COLONIE — The Planning Board, citing concerns about the size of the three-story building how close it is to Columbia Street Extension, opted to not advance what could be called Ayco, Phase II.
The plan, introduced by the Galesi Group, is to build a three-story, 60,000-square-foot building to house a bank, office space, retail and a restaurant at the intersection of Columbia Street Extension, or Route 9R, and Coliseum Drive, the new road that connects to Route 9.
The size of the building right along the road, though, did not sit well with some on the board.
“In general, I think they are trying to do too much on this parcel of land. I know it’s a large piece of land but a lot of it is unbuildable,” said Planning Board member Craig Shamilan, adding he did think it was an attractive structure. “It’s too close to the road. It’s massive in size. It will towner over this intersection and it will be totally inconsistent with everything else that is around it.”
The board did not vote on moving the project from the sketch plan review phase of the planning process to the next step, which is site plan approval. Instead, said chairman Peter Stuto, alternatives should be presented including a smaller building and moving the building further away from Columbia Street.
Paul Fallati, a vice president at Galesi, said he was “a bit confused.”
“In one breath you guys are telling us to push the building to the front of the property, we want it pushed up and we want it nicely landscaped and we want the parking in the back,” he said. “We are spending money doing these drawings and it waffles back and forth. I guess, as developers, we want to know with some the consistency what the town is looking for.”
Stuto said the previous plan proposed three buildings with smaller total square footage so it is comparing “oranges to apples.”
Planning Board member Steven Heider said it’s a “matter of scale” in that there are not any other three story buildings in the area and as such should in the very least get pushed back.
If the building is moved off the road it will likely take up some parking spots at the rear of the building. Dan Hershberg, of Hershberg and Hershberg, said the proposed number of parking spots is less than required by code as related to the size of the building but many spots will be shared which cuts down on the required spots.
“To maintain the density proposed, it will require a fair amount of parking. If we push it back we would take a parking aisle and put it between the building and the roads,” said the Town Designated Engineer on the project, Joe Grasso. “If the board is not in favor of that, we are looking at less density, maybe taking a floor off and rather than 60,000-square-foot it might be 45,000 or 50,000 square feet.”
The site area where the proposed building will be located is vacant, and once served as the parking lot for the Starlite Theater, which closed in in 1997 and was demolished in 2012. The Galesi Group purchased the entire 120-acre site and built a new $23.6 million, 150,000-square-foot headquarters for Ayco, a financial management company under the Goldman Sach’s umbrella. That building, though, is set well off the major thoroughfares of Routes 9 and 9R.
The site is within the Boght Road GEIS and as such it is subject to mitigation fees. When Ayco was built, Galesi paid for the majority of the$5 million Coliseum Drive out of pocket with the intent of collecting on later mitigation fees, which are fees paid by developers within the GEIS area to benefit the town as a whole and not just the individual project.
Joe Grasso said the mitigation fees are calculated at $300,000 with $250,000 going to help pay off the road.
There will be access to the building from Coliseum Drive and a right in and right out only access on Columbia Street with possibly sharing a driveway with Latham Ford.