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Capital Region awarded $85 million for development projects

Capital Region awarded $85 million for development projects

State hands out $755 million in funds
Capital Region awarded $85 million for development projects
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at the Regional Economic Development Council announcement Wednesday in Albany.
Photographer: John Cropley

CAPITOL — New York state handed out $755 million in economic development funds Wednesday through its Regional Economic Development Council process.

The Capital Region was again one of the most highly funded of the state’s 10 regions, with $85 million awarded for 110 projects ranging from places to live (apartments in Green Island) and places of culture (Palace Theatre and Proctors) to beer (a craft brewers convention in Colonie) and sewers (in numerous municipalities).

The next two regions west of the Capital Region, the Mohawk Valley and Central New York, were the only ones awarded more money: $85.5 million for 101 projects and $86.4 million for 112 projects, respectively.

Other REDC award totals:

  • Mid-Hudson, $84.8 million
  • Long Island, $84.3 million
  • Western New York, $68.8 million
  • Southern Tier, $67.3 million
  • North Country, $64.9 million
  • New York City $64.8 million
  • Finger Lakes, $63.9 million

Schenectady officials were excited about the news Wednesday, as a major project that depended on REDC funding — overhaul of the Stockade View Apartments (originally Breslaw's department store) into the biggest component of the Mill Artisan District — was approved for funding. 

“The total renovation of Breslaw's will add to the momentum on lower State Street that also includes the $20 million Electric City Apartments, the $11 million Mill Artisan District, the new Gateway Park, the New York BizLab, the $20 million renovation of the former YMCA and more to come," said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority and the leader of local development efforts.  

Several other projects to improve quality of life and recreation around the city also were approved, including larger docks at Mohawk Harbor.

“Many larger boats use this great waterway and now these vessels will be able to dock and stay and enjoy the casino, our new hotels, our revitalized downtown and so much more,” Schenectady County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski said.

To the west, Montgomery County scored several large grants. The projects are noticeably skewed toward tourism and quality of life, and that was intentional, Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said.

“We need to balance our rural character ... with trying to attract development,” he said.

Maintaining quality of life makes people want to live in or visit a place, he explained, and that was a strategy embraced by the entire Mohawk Valley region. 

The unifying feature of that region, of course, is the Erie Canal.

“There’s a number of projects up and down the canalway that were funded this year,” Ossenfort noted.

One of the most visible projects will be the 120-unit mixed-use residential-culinary building planned on the South Amsterdam waterfront at a cost of about $22 million. It drew a $1 million grant.

“That was a high-priority project,” Ossenfort said.

The awards were announced with some fanfare at the Albany Capital Center, the new convention center just east of Empire State Plaza.

Before the announcements, a lengthy retrospective was offered on the accomplishments of the REDC program since it was created in 2011, a period in which it has awarded more than $5.4 billion to more than 6,300 projects. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul displayed her wrist in a brace and joked that it was repetitive stress injury from cutting so many ribbons.

She and Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky both touted a turnaround in upstate New York after decades of decline as a warmup for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to launch into a warning about the threat that federal tax changes sought by Republicans poses to the state and all that REDC has accomplished.

Eliminating federal income tax deductions for taxes paid to state and local government will effectively boost most New Yorkers’ tax bills 20 to 25 percent, he said.

“The tax plan is going to be highly problematic to the state of New York,” he warned.

Cuomo also took time to praise the work of the 10 regional councils, and the positive impact they have had.

State Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, followed him at the podium, crossing party lines to praise the Democratic governor’s vision in creating the REDC program.

He, too, vouched for the impact of the regional councils, and noted that his Senate district straddles three separate regions.

“I can tell you firsthand the difference it has made,” Amedore said.

NOTABLE PROJECTS

Some of the largest projects funded in the greater Capital Region are:

ALBANY COUNTY 

  • $5 million for construction of facilities to reduce the number of floatable materials the city of Albany sewer system releases into the Hudson River.
  • $2.5 million for renovation and modernization of the Palace Theatre in Albany.
  • $1.8 million toward creation of a waterfront community on Starbuck Island in Green Island.
  • $1.75 million total for five projects in the fire-ravaged city of Cohoes.
  • $1.25 million for the University at Albany to connect startups across the Capital Region with resources they need to grow through Innovate 518-Capital Region Innovation Hot Spot.

FULTON COUNTY

  • $750,000 for Gloversville sanitary sewer upgrades.
  • $500,000 for the Northville Five and Dime renovation project.
  • $250,000 and $120,000, respectively, to add sewer systems in the Vail Mills and Hales Mills development areas.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

  • $1.2 million for the Amsterdam IDA to help build a 64-room Microtel near the Florida Business Park.
  • $1 million for the Montgomery County IDA to help build a mixed-used building where the Chalmers building once stood in Amsterdam.
  • $526,750 for phase III of the Fonda Canalside Park.
  • $500,000 for the Mohawk Valley Collective to begin historic restoration of the Unity Hall in Fort Plain and West Hill School in Canajoharie.

RENSSELAER COUNTY 

  • $4 million to renovate and beautify buildings in the Troy Innovation District.
  • $2.9 million for Hudson Valley Community College to create an advanced manufacturing technology training facility.
  • $1.5 million to purchase and protect about 650 acres in the watershed of the Tomhannock Reservoir, Troy's water source.

SARATOGA COUNTY 

  • $1.7 million for The Pike Company LLC to create the Manufacturing Technology Education Center to prepare students for modern manufacturing careers.
  • $1 million for the village of Corinth for sewer improvements.
  • $1 million for a new storm sewer system on South Central Avenue in Mechanicville.
  • $300,000 to create a grain hub in Moreau to maintain a supply chain for New York's thriving craft brewing and distilling industry.

SCHENECTADY COUNTY 

  • $2.9 million to Re4orm Architecture for overhaul of the Stockade View Apartments at State and Ferry streets as part of Schenectady’s new Mill Artisan District.
  • $503,251 to the city of Schenectady for docks and a multiuse path at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady.
  • $500,000 for Proctors to complete installation of seating and a hearing loop that will benefit people with mobility and hearing problems.
  • $415,120 to the Schenectady Museum Association for a nature trail connecting miSci and Vale Park, along with other outdoor improvements.
  • $205,417 to the city of Schenectady for improvements to Jerry Burrell Park in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood.

SCHOHARIE COUNTY

  • $1.65 million for the village of Sharon Springs to upgrade its sewer lines.
  • $350,000 for Sharon Springs improve its wastewater treatment plant.
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