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Mill Artisan District celebrates milestone with 'topping off' ceremony

Mill Artisan District celebrates milestone with 'topping off' ceremony

Construction is expected to be completed by late spring
Mill Artisan District celebrates milestone with 'topping off' ceremony
Steel workers put the last beam of the Mill Artison Building into place at a "topping off" ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY -- The last, highest steel beam of the Mill Artisan District building was hoisted into place Thursday, during a “topping off” ceremony.

Completion of the building's superstructure was feted by local dignitaries and the team behind the project.

“It symbolizes that we have reached a major milestone,” said JT Pollard, founder of Re4orm Architecture and developer of the project. “Because getting out of the ground is the hardest part.”

The final, white-colored beam was adorned with two flags -- an American flag and a POW MIA flag -- and had a small tree on top, as it was put into place.

Pollard said topping off ceremonies -- tree and all -- are a tradition in the construction industry.

“That [tree] signifies prosperity and growth,” Pollard said.

Pollard spent most of his opening remarks at the ceremony thanking those behind the project, including construction teams, the different entities that helped finance it and anyone else who gave their support.

When he began to thank his team at Re4orm Architecture, Pollard became emotional and had to take a quick break to gather himself.

"It’s a lot of time and effort [for his team]," Pollard said. "This is a nice moment that something is actually complete.”

The plan is to open the doors of the first phase of the $30 million project in the spring. But Pollard said they are working with the city to open the makeshift taproom for the building’s flagship tenant, Frog Alley Brewing Co., in January. He also said they hope to start selling some beer to nearby restaurants and bars before officially opening the doors to the brewery.

“We thought that the brewery is really the engine for this development,” Pollard said. “We needed something to generate some energy down in this area.”

Joining the brewery will be software developer Jahnel Group and Bountiful Bread, a bakery. The owner of 151 Bar and Restaurant and Clinton’s Ditch, Tim Trier, is also planning a new restaurant in the new building, and SUNY Schenectady’s culinary and craft beverage program will also have a presence. There will also be 74 residential apartments on the upper floors.

Pollard said another 3,000-square-foot space is still available for a commercial tenant, and talks were underway with two businesses -- one that would be a smaller marketplace and the other a restaurant.

Pollard thanked Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, during his speech. He said Gillen came to them with the concept of the mixed-use development project.

“They asked if we could do something down here, and could we re-imagine this area,” Pollard said. “I think we’ve done that.”

Gillen praised the project in a prepared statement, congratulating Pollard and his team for reaching a milestone in the building's construction.

“This project will help us continue the strong momentum that is driving the redevelopment of lower State Street,” Gillen said.

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