Editor's note: This story was corrected at 10:42 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2017. An earlier version implied that Williams Auto Parts was closed. The business was still open as of Dec. 14.
NISKAYUNA — Plans for a riverfront apartment community at the site of an auto scrap yard near the Rexford Bridge will go forward.
The town Planning Board on Monday unanimously approved the $26 million Rivers Ledge project along the Mohawk River, just west of the bridge, on the Williams Auto Parts site. The plans call for 160 apartments with river views, plus a pool and clubhouse. The size of the project has been reduced through the planning process; originally, it called for more than 200 apartment units.
Schenectady County joined town officials in praising the project, which was first proposed by developers Peter Luizzi and Saverio Minucci nearly two years ago.
"This continues Schenectady County's proactive efforts to replace blighted sites on the river and reclaim our waterfront with smart-growth projects like Mohawk Harbor and now Rivers Ledge," said County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam.
The 21-acre site is just off Aqueduct Road, near the new Rexford Bridge. The project borders the Mohawk-Hudson Hike/Bike Trail and the town's Aqueduct Park. As part of the project, the developers will build a new parking lot for the bike trail and a new connector trail that leads to the waterfront.
Though the site was a junkyard for 50 years, county officials said extensive environmental testing has found no major contamination.
"This project has gotten a lot of support because it's an old junkyard and it's right on the river," Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said.
Work that includes an extension of town sewer service to the site — at the developers' expense — is expected to start next spring, with completion anticipated in late 2019. About half the property will remain green space, but an area is set aside for possible future development as senior housing.
"The town is excited to move this project into the construction phase, as we work together to transform this site into a great residential project that will create tax base and open up our waterfront for more public use," Niskayuna Town Supervisor Joe Landry said.
Gillen said the project on the south side of the bridge will create a "gateway to Schenectady County."
"This also continues our efforts to open up the waterfront in Schenectady County for public use," Gillen said. "The Rivers Ledge Development is a major boost to this effort."
Gillen said Metroplex officials helped bring the developers together and will discuss the possibility of granting a five-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that would lower the developer's tax bill, though no agreement has been approved yet.
"Right now, the junkyard is paying $15,000 in taxes, and this will pay significantly more," Gillen said. "The developer is bringing public sewer and water and trails, so they are doing a lot for the community."
The apartments will be directly across the river from Saratoga County, and within 3 miles of major employers like GE Global Research and destinations like the Rivers Casino & Resort, and 4 miles from downtown Schenectady.