Bold vision for city waterfront; Schenectady gets details on $150M plan on Mohawk


City Planning Commission members got their first chance to hear about some of the big-ticket items that could be part of the more than $150 million Mohawk Harbor waterfront project.

“This will significantly enhance the tax base of our region and draw people to our region,” said David Buicko, chief operating officer of Rotterdam-based Galesi Group Inc., which owns the roughly 60-acre tract on Nott Street. “This will be the major project on the Erie Canal.”

Buicko briefly mentioned the existence of building pads on the renderings that could house a major movie production studio or casino, but no one on Wednesday from the small crowd at City Hall or commission members specifically asked him about the prospects of a gaming hall.

Still, if the city lands a casino, that will greatly enhance the profile of Mohawk Harbor.

Buicko, however, has been careful to say that no casino deal has been finalized.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy has said a license application for a casino site in the Electric City will be announced by April 29, but he would not provide details. Galesi has been talking with officials from Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming.

Those building pads, or space holders, could also eventually be home to a supermarket, which Buicko told the city planner had not been ruled out.

Several questions Wednesday for Buicko and his experts focused on pedestrian-friendliness of the project and the measures being taken to ameliorate the flood-prone area.

Buicko stressed to the commission that the plans were still conceptual and that his firm had already revised the renderings dozens of times.

He said Galesi is still conducting a market analysis to determine, among other things, the price of the condominiums and apartments and the size of those residences. The project also would feature a hotel and a 50-boat slip and dock would be part of the marina.

One of Galesi’s experts, Daniel Hershberg, said plans call for shaving back the bank of the Mohawk by 40 feet and that all the work would ultimately improve the water quality. They are working closely with the state and federal agencies on this aspect of the project.

Commission member Tom Carey-Glass urged Buicko to look at doing a better job of connecting Mohawk Harbor to surrounding neighborhoods.

“The more connection you have with the surrounding communities, the better you’ll be able to integrate into those communities,” said Carey-Glass.

In response, Buicko said Galesi was evaluating if rent-a-bike services would work and that they intended to tap into General Electric, Golub/Price Chopper, Union College and Ellis Hospital.

“I think it’s going to be imperative, some type of people-mover,” added Buicko, who also made it clear that whatever restaurants they construct would complement and not compete with all the eateries downtown.

Mohawk Harbor will be completed in two phases.

On Wednesday, several residents from the tiny East Front Street neighborhood and the co-owner of a steel company said that while they saw the potential of the harbor project, they worried that it could also adversely affect their business and the community.

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