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Gillen: Schenectady nightclub project will move ahead

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said the opening date for a basement nightclub at 411 State Street called The Underground, is still up in the air, though he said he was confident the project would move ahead.

The nightclub business, once scheduled to be named the Big House, has been in the works since 2005, when Stephen Waite, owner of the popular Albany hangout of the same name, said he would bring a new facility to downtown Schenectady.

Mr. Waite will finish the project, and the club will open, and it will be a good addition to downtown, said Gillen, who presented the Schenectady County Legislature with Metroplex's annual report on Monday, March 3, and fielded questions from legislators.

Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, questioned Gillen about the Big House. He said he was concerned that there would ultimately be no return on the investments made to 411 State Street, the projected site of the nightclub.

Gillen said Waite has invested more than $1 million of his own money into the project and that he is no longer seeking public financing from Metroplex. But, he said, Waite needs approximately $400,000 in additional funding for a temporary certificate of occupancy.

In order to obtain the certificate of occupancy, Waite has already made a host of renovations.

Chair of the Economic Development Committee Vince DiCerbo said the fact that the bar will be underground has been a continued concern for the city.

"The city has been tough on awarding certificates of occupancy for underground facilities," said DiCerbo.

Metroplex has provided Waite with a $1 million, 15-year loan, a $250,000 faCade grant, a $100,000 loan toward tax payments under the Empire Zone plan and additional funding of $50,000 to remove asbestos.

Gillen said Waite had to essentially gut the building, which dates to the early 1900s. Gillen said a new roof, heating and ventilation system, bathrooms, elevators and flooring all had to be installed.

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