Members of the Galesi Group present the sketch plan for Ayco's headquarters last year (Photo by Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE – The Planning Board gave concept acceptance to two significant projects on Tuesday, Jan. 9: Phase I of the Starlite Theater site and a three-story, 17,949-square-foot office building at 1209 Troy Schenectady Road.
It also, for the second time, sent a high-end car dealership at the intersection of Troy Schenectady and Mill roads back to the drawing board and addressed a modified sketch plan for a housing development on Troy Schenectady Road.
By a unanimous vote, the Planning Board gave a thumbs up to the Galesi Group’s proposal to build a five-story, 138,000-square-foot office building where Ayco, a Goldman Sachs company, wants to consolidate three Capital District office locations.
The plan also includes a road that will bifurcate the site and run from Route 9 to Route 9R. The Galesi Group applied for a $5 million state grant to help build the road but that money was not included in the latest round of funding through the Regional Economic Development Councils.
The road is meant to alleviate traffic at the intersection that in its current configuration is already at a maximum with no place to build out. Some, though, are not convinced it will work.
“There is already enough traffic congestion at the Route 9/Northway/Columbia Street Extension site without the addition of 800 AYCO employees from their three other sites coming here,” said Barbara Conboy Numrich, a member of Save Colonie, a Partnership for Planning, on the group’s Facebook page. “That said we, tax payers, also don’t need to contribute to benefit a Goldman Sachs Co, that is seeking millions in tax breaks.”
Galesi is also looking for some $12 million in tax breaks from the town Industrial Development Agency, which has not formally addressed the application as of yet.
The 58 acres, roughly tucked between Routes 9 and 9R, has been abandoned since 1998. Galesi purchased the property about six years ago.
Ayco began in 1971 with offices on Wolf Road. It now has nine regional offices around the country and currently leases in Saratoga Springs and two locations in Colonie. About 70 percent of its currently Capital District employees work out of the Latham offices. The application in front of the IDA estimated that Ayco will bring 160 new fulltime, financial sector jobs to the company’s new headquarters.
A concept acceptance allows the developer to invest money, with confidence, on architects and engineers but the project will need to come back before the board to solidify final construction plans.
Leece Office Building
The Planning Board also gave concept acceptance to the proposal to build a three-story, 17,939-square-foot office building at 1209 Troy Schenectady Road, a portion of which will be in Niskayuna.
The current 1.49 acres is now vacant with the existing buildings already demolished.
Leece Real Estate, the applicant, is proposing two points of access to help mitigate traffic at the busy intersection of Troy Schenectady Road and Vly and Rosendale roads. The access at Troy Schenectady Road will be restructured to entering the site only. The access at the rear of the property will be full access to allow vehicles to exit onto Rosendale Road.
On the Farm
The 48.84 acres located on a swath of land at 261 Troy Schenectady Road runs north behind an ice cream stand by the same name and calls for building 61 homes on nearly 49 acres.
In October, 2017, the board sent the project back to the drawing board and said the applicant should apply for a Conservation Overlay District, which would allow for smaller lots than the required, 18,000-square-foot lots, but also allow same density with the goal of conserving more open space.
The applicant, Dean Marotta, initially rejected that idea. But, on Tuesday, his representative, Nick Costa, of Advance Engineering and Surveying, did present that option to the Planning Board, which was receptive according to Joe LaCivita, chair of the Planning and Economic Development and Department.
Rather than the 18,000-square-foot lots required by the current residential zoning, a Conservation Overlay District will allow construction on 15,000-square-foot lots. The developer was reluctant because, logically, smaller lots will lead to a smaller price tag.
The result is keeping more than 18 acres, or 37.7 percent of the total site, undeveloped.
The project will have to come back before the board for concept acceptance.
DePaula Auto was to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals in May, 2017, with its plan to build a Maserati/Alfa Romeo auto dealership/repair shop at the intersection of Troy Schenectady and Mill roads but withdrew the application.
The plan was initially rejected by the town Building Department because it failed to meet the required 200-foot setback between land zoned for a single family residences on Mill Road and a
commercial building on Troy Schenectady Road.
The plan most recently was in front of the board on Jan. 9 looking for concept acceptance but LaCivita said the board opted to table the measure pending a further examination into traffic at the busy intersection across from the Peter Harris Plaza.
DePaula wants to build on 6.2 acres on land currently occupied by two warehouses and zoned Commercial Office Residential. The plan calls for the demolition of the larger warehouse and renovating the smaller for a parts warehouse.