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Spate of demolitions paves way for future Erie Blvd. projects

Spate of demolitions paves way for future Erie Blvd. projects

Three owners have leveled five structures, and a sixth is being prepared for demo
Spate of demolitions paves way for future Erie Blvd. projects
The former Sears Roebuck building on Erie Boulevard in Schenectady, shown this week, is slated for demolition.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY — Construction preparation is underway or wrapping up at three unrelated sites along Erie Boulevard:

  • The long-vacant Paragon restaurant was demolished at 154 Erie and the old Sears Roebuck building at 168 Erie, vacant even longer, is being prepared for demolition.
  • The small buildings used by two former used car dealerships at 1100 Erie were demolished earlier this month and the lot graded for redevelopment.
  • Start of construction of a new convenience store reportedly is imminent at 1410 Erie, where an old railroad freight depot formerly home to Grossmans partially collapsed and was completely demolished earlier this year.

This last site is the only one of the three with publicly disclosed plans. Massachusetts-based Global Partners last year proposed and received approval to construct one of their Alltown markets, the first in New York state.

The site is owned by Legere Properties, which will lease it to Global. Legere in June knocked down a small frame structure at 1424 Erie to open up the grounds and made an unwelcome discovery: There were buried fuel tanks beside the building, which had been a service station in a previous incarnation.

Co-owner Ray Legere said he had suspected there might be tanks in the ground, but didn’t regret buying 1424 Erie, because it gave his company control of an entire city block.

“We looked at the long view instead of the short view,” he said.

The plan now is for environmental contractors to mechanically suction out the residue in the five tanks, swab out the interiors by hand, and then excavate the tanks themselves.

“We’re working with DEC to get them gone,” Legere said.

Once the tanks are out, soil testing will determine how much and where they leaked.

Legere said the excavation work isn’t near the planned footprint of the Alltown, and shouldn’t impede that project.

Global did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

Neither did an entity called UrbanCasche, which is identified on a sign on site as the contact point for leases at the site at the two former auto lots at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Green Street.

City officials in September 2018 said a developer was buying the property out of tax foreclosure for potential use as a fast food eatery.

The Paragon and Sears Roebuck sites are part of a strip of property owned by Highbridge Development, which earlier this year completed a major residential building across Erie Boulevard at State Street: Electric City Apartments.

Principal Jon Roth said in April he’d be seeking engineering and architectural proposals for the strip of land, which occupies a prominent location at one of the main entryways to the city. Demolition of the two buildings is preparatory for eventual construction there.

No immediate developments appear in the works at one other prominent edifice — the old Coyne Textile building at 1435 Erie. 

The 1-acre site and its 27,500-square-foot building may have attracted interest as development of Mohawk Harbor and redevelopment of downtown continued. But there is documented contamination from its earlier industrial use, and no proposals have been put forth for reuse of the site. 

After letting it sit vacant for years, the limited liability corporation that previously owned it listed it for sale through Latham-based Cronin Real Estate, first at $650,000 in 2017, then at $300,000. 

In mid-2018, the property went up for auction — twice. It sold the second time, for $103,000 on Aug. 16, 2018, to an Orange County resident who didn’t return a call seeking comment for this story.

Nothing has changed in the building’s outward appearance since then, though its tax assessment was reduced from $709,600 in 2018 to $242,000 in 2019.

Cronin is again listing the building for sale, this time with an asking price of $300,000.

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