SCHENECTADY — The developer behind the rebirth of the Foster Building is taking on another downtown project: renovation of the former home of the Edison Tech Center and Electric City Bike Rescue.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority announced Wednesday it will sell 132 and 136 Broadway to Redburn Development for $325,000. The two buildings originally were home to the Skypes Carpet store and the old Schenectady Gazette printing press and warehouse. They are in need of extensive overhaul before any reuse.
The former carpet store (132 Broadway) is a single-story building, but the old Gazette press building (136 Broadway) is four stories tall. The ground floor of both is interconnected and will become retail space. The upper levels, with high ceilings and wide open spaces, will become 20 or more apartments.
Asked about the project budget, Redburn Development principal Jeff Buell said: “My gut says it’s probably going to be $4 million to $5 million.”
A number of variables will determine the pricetag and the number of apartments. Not least of the unknowns is the deep pit that formerly housed the two-story printing press. Buell hasn’t figured out what to do with that yet.
“Where one person sees a pit, I see an opportunity,” he said. “I think it’s a fascinating piece of history, and we will figure out how to make it play into that space.”
Over the course of several years, Buell and what is now Redburn Development overhauled the historic Foster Building at 508 State St. and several adjoining buildings. Last year, Redburn turned the old Fitzgerald Building at 148 Clinton St. into an artisans cooperative market and a dozen apartments, 10 of which were leased before the project was completed. The combined cost of that project was more than $10 million.
Like The Fitzgerald, 132-136 Broadway is just steps from a thriving section of State Street that has benefited from improvements costing tens of millions of dollars over the past two decades.
“I love the location; I love how close it is to the train,” Buell said. “I’m happy to continue my role developing the side streets.”
He’s thinking of naming it The Gazette Press.
The high ceilings and large windows of the former printing building should make for nice living space. Buell just hasn’t devised a configuration yet.
“We know it has good bones,” he said of the building. The structural solidity opens a range of options.
Metroplex has been marketing the two buildings since the city took them back from the Edison Tech Center in the summer.
The city had sold them to Edison Tech in 2005 for $1 each, on the condition that Edison Tech upgraded them. Edison Tech has said it made nearly $1 million in repairs, but the city was not satisfied and took Edison to court to get it out.
The two buildings had a combined 2018 assessment of nearly $1 million, but they are in shabby condition at best and in need of extensive renovations before reuse is possible. Metroplex already has paid for removal of mounds of trash and cast-off pieces of the collection at Edison Tech Center, a museum dedicated to showing the historic impact of electricity on people’s lives.