SCHENECTADY – A fortified old city building renovated several times in its first century, will mark its 99th birthday with its most ambitious repetition: in the form of apartments.
The circa 1923 building at 192 Erie Blvd. Received its certificate of occupancy as Canal Lofts on 12 November and found its first residential tenant shortly thereafter.
A week later, four of the 32 apartments were occupied and a lease was signed for the fifth, developer Christopher Madalone said on Thursday.
Hudson Partners Development, part of Madalone & Associates, purchased the building for $2 million and spent more than $6 million on converting the lower three floors into commercial space and the top four floors into one-bedroom apartments.
major work done
The exterior makeover was more cosmetic than functional, but a roof patio and dog park were added, while three upper doors were created for future commercial tenants.
The cost of the work was higher than originally estimated and took longer than expected: 14 months, in 2020 thanks to a COVID shutdown and then delays in wiring the building to the electricity grid.
With gas-powered tankless heaters in each apartment supplying hot water and heat, and new windows that capture the heat, the project is eligible for funding under the PACE model – property assessed clean energy.
However, it did not qualify for Historic Preservation Funding. A lot had changed in the first 95 years.
The building began in 1923 as a five-story department store, which explains its solid concrete construction and 10-foot ceilings. It later became the headquarters of Trustco Bank, which added two stories with similar concrete construction.
After Trustco moved its home office to Glenville, Schenectady County purchased the building in 2005 for potential courtroom space, but used it mostly for storage.
Somewhere along the way, a dry cleaner and gas station worked on or near the site. The county had to clean up the contamination left behind.
The county agreed to sell the site to Hudson Partners in 2018.
Madalone started out in third-party property management in the capital region and moved into housing development through Hudson Partners.
Hudson Partners has undertaken a number of projects in the area, many of which involve the remodeling of older buildings.
For example, the 200 State St building was Schenectady’s original YMCA and later the Spencer Business School. It now has 11 apartments.
This year, Hudson began work on an 88-unit apartment complex on vacant land at the northern tip of Schenectady.
Madalone said either type of development, ground-up or refurbishment, may be more economical than the other depending on the situation. New construction is usually easier, but renovation is usually more interesting.
“I love these renovation projects,” he said. “Ground-up is easy because once you’re off the ground there are no real unknowns. Here, you never know what you’ll find once you break down the walls.”
Not surprisingly, there was a large vault in the former Trustco building. Also, the foundation of the building that stood at 198 Erie Blvd. Remains before 1923. But after so many renovations there were few pieces of the past left.
Madalone said a former piano factory in Albany’s Warehouse District that was converted into apartments by Hudson Partners was filled with artifacts.
And 200 State St. also offers some interesting excerpts from the past.
“In that building we found two mosaic tile pools in the basement,” Madalone said. “Nobody knew they were there – we knocked down the wall and there they were. They’re still there – really cool.
“We also found an old safe in that building. I still have the door downstairs in the basement. Old Utica Club cans in the walls.
“That’s why I say I love these projects.”
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