SCHENECTADY — Officials are confident hundreds of kids will soon pour into a gleaming new Boys & Girls Club from Mont Pleasant Middle and Pleasant Valley Elementary schools.
“When that school bell rings and those kids leave school, we know those kids will all come here,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, referring to the club being built between the two schools.
Dozens of dignitaries gathered in the chilly interior of the partially-completed 39,450-square-foot building in Quackenbush Park on Monday to survey progress.
“We’re 50-percent done,” said Shane Bargy, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady.
The new location is expected to serve many as 300 children daily from the Hamilton Hill and Mont Pleasant neighborhoods, replacing the former building on Craig Street.
That’s nearly triple the number who attended the previous clubhouse.
State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, called the site a “game changer” and traced his own success in life to the organization.
“I lived in the Rotterdam Boys & Girls Club,” he said. “There was nothing else.”
As a 12-year-old, Tedisco was ultimately named 1963's “Golden Boy,” making the front page of the Schenectady Gazette in the process.
Chad Kilbourne, trustee of the Wright Family Foundation, said the organization is critical to youth development, noting participation in programming boosts students’ prospects for graduating high school to 95 percent.
Private fundraising efforts generated $8 million for the $13 million project.
The new two-story facility will be formally dubbed “The Adeline Wright-Graham Boys & Girls Club” after the late philanthropist and chairwoman of the Wright Family Foundation.
A performance theater included in the club in partnership with Proctors will be named “Neil and Jane Golub Theater” after the local business leaders and philanthropists.
The location will also include a 4,000-square-foot teen center, a commercial learning kitchen, game and program rooms, technology centers and a gym with bleachers that can be divided into three separate gyms.
Officials praised the collaborative effort to finance the project.
“We had to create new pathways,” said Darren Schott, upstate east director of development at the state office of Homes and Community Renewal.
Homes and Community Renewal contributed $3 million, and $2.4 million in equity was generated from New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations from Empire State Development and The Community Builders, which signed on as a community housing partner in order to lock in the state grant.
M&T Bank provided a bridge loan, and the city donated a portion of Quackenbush Park for the building.
Construction began last December.
Officials expect construction to be completed by the end of the year.
“In approximately five to seven months, we’re going to be cutting the ribbon on this magical place,” Bargy said.
The new center joins a flurry of investment in Mont Pleasant and Hamilton Hill, including two new libraries and a two-phase Community Builders' effort to build affordable housing.
The first phase cost $22 million, the major portion of which went for conversion of the Horace Mann and St. Columba’s school buildings into the Hillside View Apartments and Electric City Barn.
Phase II entails demolition of 22 buildings and construction of 85 housing units at a cost of $40 million.
The total result is 180 new units, said Malik Aziz, Community Builders senior program manager of lending.
The former clubhouse on Craig Street was sold to Community Builders as part of its approximately $60 million two-phase project in Hamilton Hill.
Mayor Gary McCarthy pointed to the city’s revitalization initiatives along the Craig Street-Main Avenue corridor.
“It’s going to brighten the lives of so many individuals,” McCarthy said.