ROTTERDAM -- Longtime Rotterdam residents may remember shopping at the Grant's or K-Mart on Curry Road.
But the Curry Road Shopping Plaza stopped making new memories for shoppers more than 25 years ago and became one of the most prominent eyesores in Rotterdam, even though it sat in the heart of town. It was a blighted spot that state, county and town officials worked for more than a decade to redevelop.
"It's been a very high priority of the county's for a very long time," said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.
The long-vacant 85,000-square-foot plaza was demolished in September 2016, and on Thursday the developer and community leaders came together to mark the halfway point in the 10-acre site's renaissance as a $28 million luxury apartment complex.
"For a town like Rotterdam, I don't want to say it's a big deal -- it's awesome," said Town Supervisor Steven A. Tommasone.
The first four buildings of the Residences at Vista Square -- three-story "great house" buildings with 26 apartments each -- have opened, and work on the next four buildings is starting. In all, 208 apartments are approved for the site. A clubhouse and outdoor pool are also part of the complex.
"This isn't development, it's redevelopment. This place was terrible," said William Hoblock, executive vice president of Richbell Capital of Saratoga Springs, the developer.
Hoblock said the new apartments are already 70 percent leased, leading to the immediate launching of Phase II.
"Later phases are always market-driven," he said. "We couldn't be happier with the response we've had."
There are one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments available, starting at $1,250 per month. Hoblock said many of the people moving in are seniors downsizing from homes, but the complex is not age-restricted.
Metroplex, which has the mission of encouraging development across the county, invested $350,000 in the demolition of the plaza and another $140,000 to extend sewer service to the site, Gillen said.
In addition, the state awarded the developer brownfield cleanup credits, based on the cleanup of ground contamination left by a laundromat/dry cleaner that was in the plaza.
"This has to be a flagship project, and it is," said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, who recalled as a teenager buying his first vinyl record at the K-Mart.
Part of the development agreement resulted in a quarter-acre of land being donated to the Rotterdam Fire District No. 2, which has its station just west of the site. The land gives the fire district room for a future expansion.
Richbell Capital has developed similar housing facilities across the Capital Region, including The Paddocks of Saratoga and The Residences at Lexington Hills in Colonie.