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EXCLUSIVE: Dem proposes senior complex on Tobin site

A Democrat running for a seat on the Albany County Legislature has proposed a building plan he says could solve several county woes.

Richard Gross from Loudonville, who is seeking the seat of Republican incumbent William Hoblock in Albany County's 26th Legislative District, wants to replace the former Tobin First Prize meat-packing plant in West Albany with a county senior complex.

In that complex, Gross proposes a 250-275-bed county nursing home, a proposed 150-unit assisted living, medical office and adult day care facility, and a third building to house a senior independent living center.

The plan is to take over the property, demolish the structure and build the county nursing home there. The demand for senior housing at every level is huge, said Gross, a real estate and mortgage broker by trade.

The plan is multi-faceted, he said. For one, it will replace the Ann Lee Home and the county nursing home in Colonie, which is adjacent to the Albany International Airport. The Ann Lee home has already been phased out, said Gross, and it won't be long before the county home is closed and its population needs to relocate. Also, the plan will finally get the decrepit Tobin plant down, a long-standing blight on the West Albany community.

And lastly, the removal of the old homes will open the area up for development, a plus for both Colonie and the county, he said. Last estimates put the property worth at just above $10 million.

However, some Republicans are wary of Gross' proposal and doubt that it is even his.

"This isn't a Richard Gross thing. This is something I've heard," said Christine Benedict, a county legislator from Colonie and Republican minority leader.

Benedict said she grew up a block away from the Tobin plant. She said she has heard rumblings in the Legislature that there was a plan to not only replace the county-run nursing home but also do it as a part of a larger senior complex. She said his is the first she has heard of it being built on the Tobin site.

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