NISKAYUNA -- Construction of Rivers Ledge, a proposed upscale apartment complex on the Mohawk River, was supposed to begin this spring.
Ground has not been broken for the $26 million project to be built on land that is currently home to Williams Auto Scrap Yard off Aqueduct Road. The reason? Sewers.
Developers need the state Department of Environmental Conservation to approve the Rivers Ledge sewer system; the agency's decision is pending.
"DEC is reviewing the plans submitted for this sewer extension and has requested additional information from the project sponsor," said DEC officials in a prepared statement Thursday.
The agency did not say how long the review could take.
"Reviews vary depending on the scope of the project and the completeness of the information received," the DEC said.
"We've been on this very intensely," said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority and commissioner of economic development and planning for Schenectady County.
"The developer has to get approval from DEC on the sewer connection, which goes up Aqueduct Road to the city sewer plant," Gillen said. "So they're going to bring sewer to this part of Niskayuna, which is a side benefit of the project, as well as redeveloping the Williams auto parts site."
Gillen said some changes to the sewer plan have been made, and town and DEC officials will look over the final adjustments.
"A big project like this goes through many reviews; we're at the 1 yard line," Gillen said. "The last approval happens, and they can start construction. The developers are extremely anxious to start construction. They want to get going."
The "Ledge" will include 16 buildings that each will comprise 10 apartments. On the original timetable, the project was to be complete by 2019.
The complex will be situated close to the Mohawk River and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, and residents will be seconds away from the new rotary at the new Rexford Bridge.
"They'll have their own garages," said town Planner Laura Robertson. "They're kind of like town houses, but they're rentals. There will be a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts."
Robertson also said pedestrian trails will be a large part of Rivers Ledge, which she believes will be full of "green" beauty.
"It's surrounded by park lands; it's surrounded by the Mohawk-Hudson bike trail, and you won't even see it from the road," she said. "You have to drive a couple hundred feet before you even get into the complex."
The Ledge will be built by developers Peter Luizzi and Saverio Minucci, who first proposed the apartments in 2016.
As part of the project, the developers will build a parking lot for the bike trail and a connector trail that leads to the waterfront.
Rivers Ledge could expand; a second phase would include a development for senior housing. "Eighty to 100 [units], but it could be less," Robertson said.
That second phase would also include space for small retail shops.
Andrew Bigness, confidential secretary to town Supervisor Yasmine Syed, believes the replacement of a scrap yard with an upscale apartment complex is a win for Niskayuna.
"It's beautifying an area that we've paid a lot of attention to in terms of the roundabout that we've done," Bigness said. "We've done a lot of improvements along that neighborhood, and so this is a natural outgrowth of those improvements."
Earlier this month, experts on the local rental market said they expect the Capital Region's long-running apartment construction boom to slow.
Bigness said Niskayuna's last comprehensive town plan -- released in 2013 -- called for more diverse housing.
"We have a lot of single-family houses in the town," he said. "We have some apartments, but not many."
"It's smart growth," Gillen said. "It's using a site. It's adding tax base. It's a very good project."
Gillen noted that Schenectady's Mohawk Harbor has been popular with people looking for housing near water. He thinks the same thing will happen at Rivers Ledge.
"We think the demand is going to be extremely strong," he said.
Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]