Metroplex chair says Big House hubbub is a lot of hype

The media hype over the discontinuation of the Big House restaurant project at 411 State St. isn't big news according to Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen.

Earlier this week, reports in several news outlets characterized the discontinuation of a Big House Restaurant project by owner Stephen J. Waite in favor of a Big House Underground nightclub as a breaking development.

These same reports indicated Gillen hadn't properly informed county officials of the project's status.

The allegations that led to the news items were made by County Legislator Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, who found a real-estate listing on Monday, April 28, that offered the site's 9,000-square-foot first floor for lease.

Suhrada said that Gillen had been dishonest with the Legislature about the status of the Big House Restaurant on several occasions. He also said he didn't think Waite should have asked for money from Metroplex, an urban renewal agency funded by a portion of the sales tax, if he didn't intend to open the initially proposed restaurant.

In a recent interview, Gillen said Suhrada's comments don't hold water.

He called the media, and he thinks he has some big 'gotcha,' but he doesn't, said Gillen. "I've been very forthcoming about this project."

Transcripts from Metroplex's annual report to the Schenectady County Legislature in early March show that the plans for the space at 411 State St. had already been discussed.

When questioned by Suhrada about the status of the Big House project, Gillen specifically indicated the uses for the building's basement and for three of the building's four stories.

He said a nightclub operated by Waite called Big House Underground would occupy the basement and that Waite's law firm would inhabit the building's third floor.

In March, Gillen said, Metroplex was actively seeking tenants for the building's first and third floors. He said showings continue today and that he's been shopping the property since January to interested retailers.

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