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5 things to watch for in the Electric City


5 things to watch for in the Electric City

Here’s what's planned for downtown Schenectady
5 things to watch for in the Electric City
An artist’s rendering shows the proposed new train station.
Photographer: Image provided

Schenectady has seen a boom in economic development projects in recent years as the city continues revitalization efforts. Several projects, particularly downtown, are expected to progress or be finished in 2017.

Here’s a look at five things being planned for downtown Schenectady.


Mill Artisan District

Several buildings along lower State Street near Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood will get a face-lift as part of a $14.1 million effort to create the Mill Artisan District.

Related: Outlook 2017, The Gazette's annual guide to business and technology in the Capital Region

The beneficiary of a $2.3 million Regional Economic Development Council award, the district will be made up of housing, office space and artist studios. Seven buildings along lower State Street, Mill Lane and South Church Street will be refurbished as part of the project.

The effort is a collaboration between Schenectady-based Re4orm Architecture and the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority. Some companies that specialize in locally produced goods are already interested in retail space in the district, Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said previously.

The project still needs to clear a few hurdles before getting underway. It has to go to through the city’s Planning Commission for approval, and some environmental cleanup needs to be done. However, the goal is to begin work in 2017, Gillen said.


Train Station

The mayor has described it as an embarrassment and the governor has called it past its prime, but by late 2018, Schenectady is expected to finally have a new Amtrak station.

Efforts to replace the decrepit and out-of-date station at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Liberty Street have been in the works for several years, but ran into financing issues in 2016. On Feb. 8, the state Department of Transportation Commissioner put an end date on the project.

“It will be finished by November 2018, perhaps sooner,” Commissioner Matt Driscoll said.

The existing station was built in the 1970s to replace the old Union Station. In March 2016, officials put the project out for bid, but received only one response. That number came in about $10 million over the roughly $15 million budget.

Since then, the project has been redesigned, and the governor proposed additional state funding for the project.


Nott apartments

A long-vacant senior center is set to be converted into apartments downtown after the city of Schenectady received a state grant in January.

The 22,000-square-foot Annie Schaffer Senior Center, located at 101 Nott Terrace, will be renovated and converted into 30 apartments. Construction is on target to start this year, and the new complex will be known as “The Nott.”

Most of the planned improvements involve the inside of the building, which has been empty for several years. On the outside, developers are planning some additional landscape and construction of a third floor.

The layout and price range of the apartments has not yet been determined, but the architect said they will likely be between 800 and 950 square feet, and be marketed toward young professionals. The building is walking distance from Union College and the Clarkson University graduate campus.

The project is slated to cost about $6 million, but some of that will be covered by a slice of a $1 million grant through the Restore New York Communities initiative.


Foster Building

The old Foster Building is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar overhaul that includes the creation of housing and retail space.

The complex, built in the early 1900s, previously served as a passenger terminal for the Schenectady Railway Co., but sat vacant until 2014. Since then, Troy-based Sequence Development purchased the building and began renovating it.

The property encompasses 508, 510 and 512 State St. and 204 Lafayette St.

Several apartments are already completed, and in January, officials announced Slidin’ Dirty, a Troy-based eatery that started as a food truck and catering service, will operate a restaurant out of the Foster Building.

Slidin’ Dirty is scheduled to open at 512 State St. this spring.


Smart city infrastructure

Mayor Gary McCarthy proposed his “Smart City” initiative during his 2016 State of the City address, but 2017 may be the year it takes root.

McCarthy has touted the benefits of investing in technology that would increase government efficiency and lower operating costs. In 2017, the focus could be on smart street lighting.
The city’s lighting bill typically comes out to about $1 million per year, McCarthy said after a November forum on using technology to improve quality of life. By installing LED lights with motion sensors and other capabilities, Schenectady could save about $370,000 annually, he said.

Some of the smart streetlights have already been rolled out on a trial basis, but the implementation in 2017 could be more widespread.

The lights would also be Wi-Fi enabled, and allow police and other city workers to access data in the streetlight’s vicinity.

“We’re only scratching the surface of what is possible with Smart City technology,” McCarthy said during his 2017 State of the City address.

Read more about business in the Capital Region

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