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What you need to know for 08/21/2017

Lecce Group hopes to start these 4 projects in Niskayuna

Lecce Group hopes to start these 4 projects in Niskayuna

All plans must work through system of approvals first
Lecce Group hopes to start these 4 projects in Niskayuna
The new Albany Medical Center building on Union Street as it was being constructed in February.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

The Lecce Group is looking to fire up the backhoes again, with fresh applications for four separate projects in town.

The plans are in the early stages of design and approval, with the Lecce Group likely to go before the Planning Board this month.

“We’re busy. It’s an exciting time,” said Leece Group’s chief operating officer, Shane Mahar. “We live in the community and are investing back into Niskayuna.”

Since the projects are still in preliminary stages, the Lecce Group did not have a timeline for completion. All of the plans must work through the system of approvals first.

The projects are a mix of residential and commercial development that stretch from Eastern Avenue to Rosendale Road. Some will need to be approved by the Zoning, Planning and Town boards, while others will not need zoning approval.

A vacant building at 2143 and 2147 Eastern Parkway, just across from Congregation Gates of Heaven, once housed a physician’s office. That physician moved to the new Albany Medical Center building on Union Street, which Lecce developed, so the Lecce Group wants to demolish the Eastern Parkway building and replace it with a three-story, 15,000-square-foot multi-use structure.

Mahar said some doctors have expressed interest in putting their offices in the new building. If approved, the physicians would practice out of offices on the first floor, he said.

The second and third floors would have five apartments each.

According to town regulations, that project would require a special-use permit from the Town Board and site plan approval from the Planning Board.

OTHER PROJECTS

The intersection of Balltown Road and Union Street has long featured one of Niskayuna’s most prominent eyesores: a vacant, condemned home on the southwest corner.

The Lecce Group has applied to raze the structure and replace it with a one-story residential-style building that would become the development group’s office headquarters. The front of the building would face the intersection, with parking in the rear. The entrance to the offices would be in the same general place as the current driveway off of Balltown Road.

The Conservation Advisory Council saw plans for the project and, according to Chairman William Lee, expressed concerns about putting yet another commercial property on that stretch of Upper Union Street. 

Lee noted that nearby homeowners could find it harder to sell their properties in an increasingly commercial area. 

The project would require a use variance from the town's Zoning Board and site plan approval from the Planning Board.

The Lecce Group has also submitted plans to build two homes at the intersection of Pearse Road and Whitney Drive. A home on the one-acre site would be demolished to make way for the two new homes, according to the proposal. 

Town officials noted there have been maintenance issues at the home that would be razed.

The new homes would be on Whitney Drive, and the plans would not require any use variance or zoning changes.

Finally, The Lecce Group wants to build three, eight-unit apartment buildings on Rosendale Road, just behind the Rite Aid at the intersection with Route 7. 

The project would replace two homes — 3511 and 3515 Rosendale — with 24 apartment units. It would require a use variance from the Zoning Board and site plan approval from the Planning Board.

The area around the homes has been slowly redeveloped into commercial properties.

Officials with the Planning Board and the town's Economic Development Committee, along with the Conservation Advisory Council, expect to consider each proposal separately, based on how they fit with the town’s long-term goals.

The Planning Board noted at its last meeting that, as proposals for apartment and rental units keep coming, it will be important to consider things like access to affordable housing in Niskayuna.

Mahar said the planned apartments fit well with the neighborhoods for which they're planned.

“The Upper Union Street corridor is walkable and close to so many amenities,” Mahar said. “If you didn’t, or didn’t want to, own a car, you wouldn’t have to in order to accomplish day-to-day life.”

He said the proposed Rosendale development would offer walkability and easy car access to the Galleria 7 Market and surrounding shops and restaurants, as well as easy access to highways and major employment centers.

“It’s the sweet spot of location and services,” Mahar said, pointing to both the efficiency of travel and the fact it is in the Niskayuna Central School District.

Lou Lecce has been a longtime fixture in Niskayuna development but only recently a developer himself. In the past, he has been the attorney for other developers, shepherding their projects through the municipal approval process.

In recent years he began to dabble in construction for himself. The Albany Medical Center building on Upper Union Street in Niskayuna and the highly anticipated City Squire project in Schenectady are two of Lecce’s recent developments.

It is not uncommon for the town’s approval process to take months to a year, or more, depending on the complexity of the project and the type of approvals it needs. 

It is also common for proposals to undergo a number of drafts or revisions before gaining final approval. 

The next Planning Board meeting is Aug. 14.

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