Schenectady's Center City gets facelift

One of downtown Schenectady's largest and most centrally located buildings, Center City, will benefit from a $2.5 million state grant as part of the Restore NY Community Initiatives Program announced by Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Rotterdam's Galesi Group, a major area developer, took over management of the 415-419 State Street facility approximately two weeks ago. The company will be the new owner of the building. Chief operating officer of the Galesi Group, David Buicko, said his company will contribute $2 million toward the renovation of Center City and will willingly spend more if necessary.

Chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority Ray Gillen said the building will be placed back on the tax rolls. The Galesi group will pay full property taxes on the facility.

The Robert Lupe family has paid a flat $10,000 annual fee under a payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) for more than 20 years.

In my many years in economic development, I'd never heard of a 20-year PILOT, said Gillen. Under the PILOT agreement, Lupe did not have to pay any school taxes as well.

Center City was built in 1979 and needs major renovations.

Buicko said the Galesi Group planned to use the $4.5 million to renovate the somewhat tired faCade. The money will also pay for a new roof, new HVAC, and other infrastructure issues. The project will also tap into the district energy plant operated by Proctors to provide low cost heating.

County officials said the renovated facility will be an environmentally friendly green building.

"The building is in the center of the fairway of Schenectady," said Buicko, noting that the Galesi Group was excited about the many possible uses of Center City. "It's across the street from Proctors and sits on the corner of the Jay Street walkway."

The four-story multi-use building had been owned by three entities, the city Industrial Development Agency, which owns the indoor soccer field in the facility, the city of Schenectady, and the Wade Lupe Companies, which own the office and retail portions of the building.

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