Downtown Schenectady gets a face-lift

Downtown buildings to get face –lifts
By Michael Lamendola, Gazette Reporter
The Daily Gazette, Schenectady

Galesi Group will make $2M improvements to properties

The Galesi Group will spend more than $2 million this year on interior and exterior improvements of two downtown buildings it owns opposite the proposed Movieland Theater on State Street.

Galesi will spend about $2 million to convert the interior of the former D&K Dollar Store, at 409 State St., to office spaces, and will improve the façade with a $60,000 matching grant from the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp.

The state Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities will occupy the first floor of this building with overflow staff from its adjacent headquarters at 401 State St.

Galesi Chief Operating Officer David Buicko said the interior work at 409 State St. should take about seven months to complete; the exterior work is under way. Galesi will work with Metroplex Development Authority to fill the second floor of 409 State St. with private –sector tenants.

Galesi will spend $175,000 to fix the façade of adjacent 401 State St., a gray stucco design. The façade will help the building “blend in more with what the rest of the streetscape will look like,” Buicko said.

The façade is under design and will be presented to the city for approval, he said. The DSIC is expected to provide a matching grant.

Galesi and BBL Construction bought the former Woolworth’s department store at 401 State St. more than five years ago. At the time, the state had already negotiated a lease with the prior owner, and “we had to back in with what we could do with space,” Buicko said.

With several downtown attractions scheduled to open this year, Buicko said, “I think the façade could use a little upgrade. The mission is to make it blend architecturally and aesthetically with what is going on with the street.”

The attractions include the Movieland Theater at Broadway and State Street; a nightclub, restaurant office complex by Steve Waite next to 409 State St.; a restaurant, office and loft project by Angelo Mazzone next to the movie theater; and The Arcade at Proctors Theater, consisting of a coffee shop, music store and an IWERKS movie theater.

Metroplex provided a $25,000 grant to Galesi to offset its $200,000 purchase price of the 409 State St. building in October 2005. The city Industrial Development Agency has approved sales tax exemption on construction materials and is negotiating a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with Galesi that will tie into the state Empire Zone. Under that, a business can pay full property taxes and receive reimbursement from the state.

The state Commission on Quality of Care employs 101 people at 401 State St. and plans to place another 23 at 409 State St.

The commission decided to remain in Schenectady when the adjacent building became available. Local officials were concerned the commission might leave downtown after it was created last year through the merger of two smaller state agencies and had sought additional space. The state will pay Galesi $7 million over the course of a 13-year lease for both buildings.

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