NEWS10 Special Report: Capital Region Casino

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A casino is coming to the city of Schenectady, but the developer says plans to transform the waterfront have been in the works for years.

The developer said plans to transform the Schenectady waterfront was being planned before the city applied for a casino. The transformation was going to happen either way, including building a harbor with 50 boat slips surrounded by apartments, a hotel and retail.

Construction is already underway. The force of a ten ton weight felt deep underground is a process known as dynamic compaction.

“You want to make sure that all the soil underneath is compressed,” David Buicko, COO of the Galesi Group, said. “So when you do a harbor, you don’t end up having water dissipate into the ground.”

Buicko is the man behind the vision of the Schenectady waterfront redevelopment. It is the future site of the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor.

“It’s not a project for the faint of heart to say the least,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for the last five years. Taking buildings down; doing infrastructure.”

The Galesi Group is a real estate development company which owns the property. They were already excavating the former American locomotive site when it was chosen for a casino.

“I think the gaming board picked us; this is part of a larger development,” Buicko said. “And has the bigger impact. The overall project is over $400 million.”

He said cleanup of the Brownfield has been going on for five years and is 95 percent done.

“So from that standpoint, it’s happening already,” he said. “So to say there are any Brownfield issues; there are Brownfield issues, where we have to take soil out. We’ve taken a significant amount of the soil out, but this will be cleaned and monitored by the DEC.”

The site is comprised of nearly 60 acres. In one area will be the casino. In addition, there will be public access to the river, which will connect visitors and residents to the harbor where there will be condos, apartments, a hotel and businesses.

“Some of the concrete goes down as much as 18 feet,” Austin DiSiena with Rifenburg Contracting Corp, said. “So that’s been the biggest obstacle so far.”

The deep removal makes dynamic compaction necessary. DiSiena said they’ve taken a lot of the concrete, crushed it, and will use it in the development.

“This is the casino footprint. The casino is going to be approximately eight feet higher than where we’re standing,” he described. “It will be protected from the 500-year flood.”

“It’s a 160,000 sq. ft. casino with 150 room hotel, and to the right you have a 450,000 sq. ft. parking deck,” Buicko said. “The casino alone, aside from property tax, sales tax and occupancy tax, will throw over $8 million a year to the city and county.”

Previously released casino renderings were previously released have since been modified.

“We’ve moved the hotel off the casino,” Buicko said. “We’ve made it a little less contemporary and a lot more fitting with the neighborhood.”

On the harbor side, Buicko said he’d like to see the condos and apartments up within 12 to 14 months, and people moving in by November 2016 or sooner. He expects the casino to open about six to eight months after that.

The current renderings of the casino are expected to be released following a planning board meeting in June.

Next for construction will be sheeting for the harbor that will arrive in early June. The piles of crushed concrete were old foundations and will be used to raise the elevation of the site.

Kovar, Heather. NEW10 Special Report: Capital Region Casino. WTEN. Albany, NY, 13 May 2015. Web

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