The corner of Wolf and Albany Shaker roads took its first steps toward restoration on the morning of Monday, Aug. 13, as two bulldozers clawed at the former J.J. Naughter's Gas Station. In a matter of a half hour, the cinder-block building came down to the applause of Colonie town and planning board members, and department heads that have wanted the building gone for more than a decade.
At one time part of a quaint orchard, the corner lot was bought by the Hofer family in 1928. In 1929 until the early 1990s, the lot was a bustling automotive business and the home of Mary Lou Hofer.
The former owner was on hand to watch the building go. It was sad, she said, but definitely needed.
The corner lot had been a state Brownfield site for years as crews worked to remove petroleum-laden soil from the site. Hofer started the cleanup; it carried on through a second owner and was eventually completed, she said.
The cause of the mess was traced to an underground fuel tank.
We went bankrupt trying to pay for the cleanup. It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it wasn't done, said Hofer.
The lot was sold several years ago to current owner Tom Burke, president of Burke Companies, for $1.3 million.
A town revitalization committee formed by Supervisor Mary Brizzell last year, placed the site at the top of a list of residential and commercial properties the town wished to be rid of.
"When is something else going to be up there," Brizzell said she had been asking herself for years. "This site is back into something that is worthwhile."
It is also a prime property, often referred to as the million-dollar corner, that will be back on the tax roles as early as the fall.