SCHENECTADY — A striking new building stands at the site of the old Castelo’s Restaurant, waiting for a new occupant.
Two brothers who have renovated a series of rundown houses in the Schenectady area demolished the old building to the foundation and built a radically different structure without having a tenant secured. But they feel confident about its prospects, based on all the development going on nearby.
“I envision someone who maybe has a couple of other restaurants and wants to come into Schenectady with all the new stuff that's being built. Hopefully this will be the spot for them to make something,” said Chris Malizia, who, with brother David Malizia Jr., founded Malizia Development.
With a soaring wall of glass that catches the sunset and a patio in front of that, the most likely use for the space seems to be another restaurant.
Chris Malizia said he briefly entertained dreams of running a restaurant himself there, and discarded them almost as quickly.
“He’s better at cooking than me,” he said of David Jr. “I can screw up a bowl of macaroni and cheese.”
The building is a shell at this point. After a lease is signed, it will take three to four months of work to install walls, floors and fixtures to the tenant’s specifications
A walk-in cooler from a defunct Niskayuna restaurant already is on-site, further indication that a restaurant is the preferred tenant.
Neither of the brothers has a strong background in construction, nor does their father, who helps out on site: Chris studied finance at Siena College and David Sr. is a retired UPS truck driver. But the volume of construction projects being done in the city led the brothers several years ago to see a business opportunity.
They’ve bought eight distressed residential properties here, all of which are now renovated and occupied. Two were so decrepit that they were on the city’s demolition list.
“I said listen, I can fix these, get them back on the tax roll,” Chris said.
The city took a chance on them and sold them the properties for as little as $1,000, he added, and they followed through.
The structure at 183 Nott Terrace was another tax foreclosure sale by the city to the Malizias. It sat vacant for years, with prospective buyers scared away by potential environmental contamination on site. Before it was Castelo’s it was a Pizza Hut, and before that a service station sat on site.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority removed old fuel tanks from the ground and did test drilling that showed no ground contamination.
Metroplex also is providing a $32,500 facade grant to the Malizias, using funds from a Restore New York grant the city previously received, Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said.
It was nice to help two young entrepreneurs who have built a track record of success in the city, Gillen said, and it was an investment to continue the momentum on Nott Terrace. The recent construction of a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel and the ongoing residential conversion of the former Annie Shaffer Senior Center have a combined price tag of more than $20 million. The parking lot at Bechtel’s expanded office off Nott Terrace is full and miSci is undertaking improvements in Vale Park.
The replacement of the unremarkable old Castelo’s building is another step forward, Gillen said.
“We keep working our way down. We’ve made a lot of progress on that corridor; Nott Terrace is very important.”
Chris Malizia noted the property is one of the few downtown with its own parking lot.
“I feel that a restaurant would be most successful in this spot,” he said.