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Upscale renovation proposed for downtown side street

Upscale renovation proposed for downtown side street

Clinton Street project would continue work done on State Street
Upscale renovation proposed for downtown side street
The exterior of 148 Clinton St. in Schenectady.
Photographer: John Cropley

SCHENECTADY — A sturdy old fixture of downtown Schenectady will be overhauled and find new life under a plan announced this week.

The 15,000-square-foot building at 148 Clinton St. is owned by Dan Ertel and is home to his accounting firm.

Sequence Development, which is wrapping up renovation of four old buildings nearby on State Street, is proposing to buy 148 Clinton and convert it into a mix of retail and residential space. Sequence CEO Jeff Buell said the purchase is contingent on the building gaining a place on the National Register of Historic Places, which would open new avenues for funding the work he wants to do.

Since its construction in 1913, the building has been home to a business school, a bowling alley, a church and a music studio. It was the temporary home of city government in 1931, when City Hall was being built. And for many years, it housed the headquarters of Ter Bush and Powell Insurance. A ghost sign for the insurance company — a faded, painted logo on an exterior wall — will be preserved as part of the project.

Ertel will need to find a new office if the sale goes through. He said Tuesday that he is looking for a space and hopes to stay in downtown Schenectady, where he’s practiced for 55 years.

Buell said the building is solid and sturdy and should still be standing for another century. 

“It’s actually a super-interesting building,” he said. “It’s played a very vital role in downtown Schenectady. It’s kind of been one of those catch-all buildings. … It’s had a bunch of interesting uses.”

Sequence has made a specialty of renovating historic downtown structures and has spent the past two years overhauling the prominent Foster Building and three adjacent buildings between Clinton and Lafayette streets on State Street. It also has developed one building in Hoosick Falls and four in Troy.

With the Foster Block work now wrapping up, Buell was looking for Sequence’s next project; he liked Schenectady and the response he’s gotten here, and he thinks nearby side streets are the logical next step, as renovations are completed on most of the buildings along that stretch of State Street.

“The downtown grows in a special way when you can connect streets,” he said.

Buell said he has had discussions with a potential first-floor tenant. Upstairs, he plans seven to 10 upscale apartments, all on the larger side. 

“The upper floors are wide open; we think we can do some neat layouts,” he said. “We’ll figure it out once we jump in there.”

The metal cladding on the ground floor of the Clinton Street side of the building will be removed as part of the renovation.

The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority is working with Sequence on the project and will provide a grant for facade improvements.

Metroplex chairman Ray Gillen said Sequence has done a great job on the Foster Building, which was in rough shape, and the rundown buildings nearby, which include the historic headquarters of the local trolley system.

When completed later this year, the block of buildings will include 22 upscale apartments, 6,000 square feet of office space and multiple retail storefronts; the Capoccia Wine Lounge, Slidin’ Dirty and the Makeup Curio are open for business now, and a fourth retail tenant will be announced soon.

“Jeff Buell and his team at Sequence Development did a fabulous job with the Foster Building,” Gillen said in a prepared statement. “We are very pleased to be working with Jeff to bring his team’s expertise to bear on restoring 148 Clinton St.”

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