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Mohawk Harbor tenants like life on the river

Mohawk Harbor tenants like life on the river

'When you rent there, you’re buying into a lifestyle'
Mohawk Harbor tenants like life on the river
Justin Paquette poses for a photo in his River House apartment.
Photographer: Eric Jenks/For The Daily Gazette

The view isn’t the only good thing, but it makes a strong first impression.

The first tenants are settled in at the River House apartment building overlooking Mohawk Harbor, pioneers of sorts in a partially full building in a partially completed neighborhood sitting on a site that had been home to the rusty remains of a locomotive factory until several years ago. 

Several tenants spoke to The Daily Gazette and said they are happy with their new homes and love the waterfront view.

Joe Altieri left his native Amsterdam for a unit on the harbor side of the building. He likes what he sees but also likes the lifestyle and low-maintenance living.

“The place is perfect for the person who just wants to lock the door,” he said. “When you rent there, you’re buying into a lifestyle.”

That lifestyle includes sitting on his balcony and watching the sun go down, at least for the rest of summer.

“The apartment complex itself, the view is great,” Altieri said. “I never knew how many boats go up and down the river. I couldn’t frame it any better; the sun sets right in the middle of my window.”

Altieri, who works downtown at Transfinder, said he also likes the city he’s moved into and the new neighborhood that’s being created along its riverfront.

“There’s a whole social aspect to it: what’s going on and what their future plans are,” he said of the developers of Mohawk Harbor, the commercial-residential community north of Rivers Casino and Resort.

The River House totals 206 apartments on five floors above a ground-level space that will be used, in part, for commercial tenants.

The resident who relocated farthest to live here might well be Camille Mayo, an engineer who left Houston, Texas, to take a job with General Electric.

“This is my first official home outside of my home,” she said.

“I like it. Plus I work at GE; it’s right down the street.”

She’s starting to like the street itself, too — Erie Boulevard was a mess during her first days as a Schenectady resident, but the work zone got a fresh coat of asphalt and is a much smoother ride now. 

One of her favorite parts of the new residence is the deck overlooking the harbor, where she goes to read. She lives on the opposite side of the building, so she doesn’t have the river outside her window. But the deck gets her almost to the water’s edge.

“It’s like a lake view,” she said.

Justin Paquette said he picked Schenectady as much as he picked the River House. Some of his friends thought Schenectady an odd choice, but they aren’t familiar with all that’s going on downtown, he said.

“This is where everything is happening right now in the Capital Region,” said Paquette, who is a technology worker originally from Saranac. He had been renting a Loudonville apartment. 

“I was looking for something of a younger crowd,” Paquette said. At his new home, neighbors range from their 20s to their 90s.

He also likes not having to drive to food, entertainment or nightlife.

“It’s unique, being that it’s the first community of its kind in the area,” he said “It feels like you’re connected.”

One tenant has a unique perspective on her new home: Haley Viccaro wrote about the Mohawk Harbor project extensively during her 2 1/2  years as a reporter for The Daily Gazette, starting when the project was just an architectural drawing for what was a muddy open space.

“It was interesting to see it from start to finish, which is rare,” she said, recalling site visits in boots and hard hat. “Living there isn’t something that I thought would happen as construction was going forward.”

Viccaro left The Daily Gazette for another job in August 2016, but she found herself driving back to Schenectady frequently for shows, dinners and meetups with friends. She lived in a Colonie apartment complex that was convenient to shopping but had little else to offer.

“I wanted to move to Schenectady for some time; I really love the sense of community,” she said. “That was really a bigger part of it, in addition to not loving where I was before in Colonie.”

Work was completed on the first 120 units of the River House at the end of July, which was perfect timing for Viccaro to bail out of her other rental.

“I was literally the first person to move in.”

Shoreline living

Details on apartments at the new River House apartment building in Mohawk Harbor:

  • FLOOR PLANS range from studio to two-bedroom-with-den.
  • SIZE varies from 650 to 1,750 square feet.
  • RENT goes from $1,000 to $3,300 a month.
  • INCLUDED in rent are parking, a gym, cable/internet service and a washer/dryer.
  • OCCUPANCY stands at 42 of 206 units, with about 30 more leased but not occupied.

The timetable

Mohawk Harbor is a work in progress, even as the first tenants move into their new apartments at the River House. Here are some scheduled milestones coming up:

  • Sept. 1: Work to be completed on upper floors of River House. First tenant to be announced for first commercial building across street.
  • Sept. 15: Boat slips to be completed in harbor.
  • Oct. 1: Two or three more commercial tenants to be announced. Amphitheater to be completed.
  • Mid-autumn: Druthers Brewing to open on the ground floor of River House.
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