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Office building near City Hall to become apartments

Office building near City Hall to become apartments

Urban Initiatives Group converting Franklin Street site
Office building near City Hall to become apartments
432 Franklin St. in Schenectady.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

SCHENECTADY — A small office building across Franklin Street from City Hall will be converted into six apartments.

Urban Initiatives Group, led by John Samatulski, hopes to have the work at 432 Franklin St. completed this summer. He sought and received a zoning variance, so that the project need not have any designated off-street parking for tenants. Without the variance, nine spaces would have been required.

Samatulski said Thursday that Urban Initiatives Group bought the 6,000-square-foot, two-story building from the estate of Frank Grasso. Over the decades, it had been Grasso’s law office, had hosted the AIDS Council, and was the headquarters for the postal carriers union, among other things. For the last few years, it has been vacant.

“I have always liked the location,” Samatulski said. “It’s such a great walkable neighborhood.”

Not a huge amount of work needs to be done, he added. “This building overall is steel joists, block construction, it’s very solid.”

He expects to retain about 80 percent of the interior walls as he creates 800- to 1,000-square-foot apartments. All the drop ceilings will come out, though, and with a semi-open floor plan, the apartments will have the airy feel of lofts without actually being lofts.

Samatulski said rents will be in the range of $1,000 to $1,200 a month. He may lease designated off-site parking for some of the apartments, despite the waiver, as a marketing tool.

He plans to do one story at a time, and put the apartments on the market between May and August through the website 432franklin.com.

This is the second recent office-to-apartment conversion greenlighted across from City Hall. The old Labor Temple at 105 Clinton St. also sought and received an exemption from parking requirements.

Samatulski said any shortage of parking is during the daytime, when the Post Office and City Hall are open. If tenants drive to day jobs, they won’t be competing for space during the day. When the workday is over, there’s no shortage of parking, he added. “Even when there’s a Proctors show, there’s not a lot of cars” at night, he said.

The new apartments will bring more life to the area, Samatulski said. “It’s going to create a nice level of pedestrian activity.”

He said it’s a bit of a change from his previous Schenectady projects, in that it’s not a distressed historic building. It’s also a little bigger than the others, particularly the houses on Ingersoll Avenue in the Stockade.

“It’s just a natural progression of what I’m doing.”

Passersby will notice a change on the exterior: Samatulski is going to spruce up the facade, which features solid stone but has little else to distinguish it.

The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority is providing a $24,000 matching grant for the facade work.

“We are very pleased to work with John Samatulski to renovate another key building in the core of downtown,” Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said. “This project creates market rate apartments a block from Proctors and so many other downtown attractions.”  

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