Hotel planned at Alco site
Upscale apartment complex also slated along riverfront
SCHENECTADY A multistory hotel and upscale riverfront apartment complex are the first projects to be announced in the planned redevelopment of the former Alco industrial site on Erie Boulevard along the Mohawk River.
Developers of the site said Wednesday that a market study completed with input from several area institutions and companies showed an interest in putting up a hotel and residential space on the 60-acre brownfield site.
“We want to make sure we do the right thing for Schenectady,” said Galesi Group COO David Buicko. “The nice thing about this project is that it is in a brownfield and it already has approvals by the city, so we can move pretty quickly.”
Construction will begin in early 2013 and is expected to take about nine months.
Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said at a board meeting Wednesday night that a hotel group has been chosen for the site and that it’s a very “well-known” brand name, though he would not identify it.
The city currently is home to the Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn, as well as several smaller hotels.
“This hotel is much-needed,” said Gillen. “The market study showed that there is quite a bit of demand for additional hotel beds in the Schenectady market, due to GE and other factors.”
The hotel and the apartment complex will each include 100 to 150 units. The apartment buildings will contain a mix of upscale one-, two- and three-bedroom units, and likely be three or four stories tall.
Developers are still deciding between several designs for the hotel, but said it will be multistory and could change based on which hotel brand ends up there.
“We want it to blend in and be a natural extension of the Stockade,” said Buicko.
City and county officials have lauded plans to redevelop one of the oldest brownfield sites in the country, which once served as home to Schenectady’s booming locomotive industry.
Now that the Alco project and Erie Boulevard project are finally moving along, Gillen said he expects to see further interest from businesses looking to settle along the Erie Boulevard corridor.
“We’re actively showing the site to office tenants,” he said. “And developers and friends in Glenville are excited about this because it really is the gateway to Glenville. It will be a nicer gateway to their community than it used to be.”
Because of the size and scope of the project, it is being funded and completed in several phases. Overall redevelopment of the site could eventually cost as much as $200 million.
Construction of the hotel and apartment complex are part of phase one, which was projected to cost about $12 million and so far has involved demolition and cleanup of the site. The state awarded $4 million in Restore NY grant money toward the first phase.
Buicko declined to release the price tag for the hotel or apartments, saying it’s too early in the process to know for sure.
“We’re comfortable that we can finance this thing pretty easily, though,” he said.
Engineers are studying just where the hotel and apartments should be built on the site, which is currently undergoing infrastructure and remediation work. Tall mounds of dirt are visible along the site from Erie Boulevard. Buicko said the dirt will be spread where needed once construction begins.
Both projects will be built in tandem with a riverfront trail that will serve as a walkway and bike path along the canal system.
Nearly half a million dollars was awarded in December for development of the trail as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils. The state Department of State will fund $339,735 and the state Canal Corporation is putting up $140,000.
Metroplex board member William Chapman said communities across the state are beginning to see a boost in tourism from people using local trails to traverse the state.
“They’re needing to get food and a place to stay,” he said.
Gillen touted the cooperation of the Galesi Group, Mayor Gary McCarthy and former mayor and current Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton in their push to bring the bike trail back down to the waterfront.
“The goal of the Buffalo-to-Hudson bike trail was really to have it run along the waterfront as much as possible,” he said. “So the new hike/bike trail along the site will bring it where it should have been all along.”