GLENVILLE — Progress continues at the Glenville Business and Technology Park, where a building will be constructed, an old building may be reused, and the county is seeking to buy 40 acres from the federal government for further development.
The town of Glenville Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday approved construction of a 98,000-square-foot building by the Galesi Group, which owns a significant chunk of the former Scotia Naval Depot. The Galesi Group is undertaking the $5 million project on spec — it has no tenant lined up for the space and expects no trouble finding one when construction is complete.
CEO David Buicko said Galesi has 10.8 million square feet of light industrial space at its cluster of four Capital Region industrial parks, and undertook a similar 100,000-square-foot expansion at the Rotterdam Industrial Park on spec two years ago. It is now fully occupied.
“We’re fairly full in most of our spaces,” Buicko said. “We need new product and we're very confident.”
Meanwhile, a California developer operating as AAA Tri-City Construction who purchased the former Navy Commissary from the federal government is seeking to turn the 120,000-square-foot building into a mixed-use facility containing office, light manufacturing and storage space. That proposal is still working through the town review process, and underwent site plan review Monday.
The park dates back 75 years, when it was built as part of the massive supply chain for U.S. and Allied forces during World War II, building to a peak workforce of more than 2,300.
It began its transition into an industrial park nearly 50 years ago, as the U.S. General Services Administration began selling off parcels and buildings while retaining the commissary and a logistics operation.
Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, said two industrial parks evolved over the years around the shrinking military depot: Corporations Park and Scotia-Glenville Industrial Park.
There were obstacles at first to redeveloping the site but a few major changes removed them, Gillen said: The state extended Interstate 890 across the Mohawk River almost to the gate of the park; the federal government allocated more than $15 million for environmental cleanup; and the town created a master plan and environmental impact statement for the entire site, shaving months or even years off the approval process for potential future occupants of the site.
“This has actually been a major focus point for the town over the last few years,” said Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle. “I’m very optimistic for future growth for the park.”
He singled out telecommunications service firm CTDI as an example of how the process of getting new business into the park has been fast-tracked: Because so much of the process had been done in advance, it took only 28 days for the town to approve construction of a new building where leaking chemical storage tanks had been. The Pennsylvania firm brought to Glenville more than 100 new jobs that it could have put almost anywhere else.
Another change in recent years has been the name. Corporations Park and Scotia-Glenville Industrial Park are now known as the Glenville Business and Technology Park. Koetzle said the town and Metroplex got the various stakeholders to agree on the change to emphasize that the park is more than industrial.
It certainly is varied: Current and future occupants include a steel fabricator, soda company, medical marijuana farm, pallet maker and trucking depot.
“It's an interesting mix of tenants and we have more looking,” Gillen said.
Galesi owns about 1.1 million square feet in the Glenville facility, but there are several other owners — Adirondack Beverages alone totals more than 700,000 square feet. As such, Galesi’s footprint is smaller at Glenville than at the other two ex-military depots in the area. It also owns the ex-Army facilities in Guilderland and Rotterdam, which total more than 3 million and 4 million square feet, respectively. In partnership with BBL Construction, Galesi also built an industrial park on the site of the former Ford Plant in Green Island.
In all, the company has 10.8 million square feet of industrial space in the Capital Region.
The Galesi Group got into military surplus real estate when owner Francesco Galesi bought a former helicopter factory in Buffalo from the GSA in the late 1960s, then the Army depots in Guilderland and Rotterdam. Glenville was the latecomer to the portfolio of the Galesi Group, which bought 11 buildings there in a GSA auction in 1986.
Each of the military depots had crucial elements for an industrial park: water and sewer service, cavernous but divideable buildings, rail service and access to main state highways -- routes 5, 7 and 20.
They also came in some cases with another common feature of ex-military facilities, hazardous waste. But the federal government pays to clean up its own messes, Buicko said, and the buildings themselves aren’t what is contaminated, it’s the land.
“They’ve been very good to work with,” he said of the federal agencies. “If you find anything, they’ve been very responsive.” What is now the Northeast Industrial Park in Guilderland needed cleanups of military waste, Buicko said, but each was done as soon as the federal budget cycle allowed.
Looking forward, he said, the Galesi Group might be interested in further acquisitions in the Glenville park, which may become a possibility in the near future.
Gillen said the Defense Logistics Agency will continue to operate on site for the foreseeable future but will likely do so on a smaller footprint. The county is in negotiations with the GSA to take over more of the site, and make it available for private-sector development.
“Our goal is to buy 40 acres from the federal government,” he said.