Mayor’s Message – October

  November 20, 2017

In a recent interview with a reporter from the Times Union, while sharing with her the activity that has happened along the Broadway Corridor, she commented that she didn’t realize all that had taken place. It occurred to me that even though I report on individual projects as they occur, giving an overview of the development would be beneficial to share in this message.

As with any community, businesses come and go, and it is sad and frustrating to watch doors close, especially those with years of history in Menands. But as one door closes another one opens creating additional opportunities, as has been the case along the Broadway Corridor. In the past few years over $50M (million) has been invested in development along Broadway. Unfortunately, the neglected properties overshadow much of the progress being made but things continue to move in a positive direction.

Two parcels at each end of Broadway that were nearly vacant saw extensive renovations, removing them from the list of prime development properties in Menands that could otherwise have remained neglected.

The Lofts at 1 Broadway had their Grand Opening in December 2016. The former Albany International was purchased by Uri Kaufman in 2012. Uri’s vision became a reality with the transformation of this beautiful industrial building into 145 high end apartments with a $34M price tag. With the demand for apartment living, particularly among millennials and baby boomers, in just 6 months all the apartments were occupied.

431 Broadway was purchased in 2015 for $4.9M by Columbia Development Corp. A three-phase renovation and rehab began with $2.5M spent on phases one and two and currently underway is phase three with an additional $1M upgrade. Total occupants are expected to reach 1,200 by the end of this year. A Clifton Park IT firm, Infrastructure announced it is investing $5M in their new headquarters located at 431 Broadway, which will occupy 50,000-sq. ft. of the facility.

The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society broke ground on September 20, 2016, building a brand new $7.2M Animal Care Center in Menands. The 35,000-sq. foot shelter will replace the old structures, some dating back to 1913. MHHS could have chosen to locate their new facility elsewhere, but decided Menands was still the best fit for them. I was pleased to attend the ribbon cutting that was held on September 27, 2017. A tour of the new building showcased the attention to detail to best meet the needs of our four-legged friends.

The Finishing Trades Institute held their Grand Opening on September 16, 2017 at 191 Broadway and I was honored to be invited to attend. Having purchased the 20,000-sq. ft. building in 2014, over $1M has been invested into a state of the art training facility, where finishing trades are learned such as painting, welding, etc. The exterior of the building had a complete makeover, while the interior provides spaces for both classroom and hands on training for the apprentices.

Riverview Center is a regional landmark that stands prominently in Albany’s skyline. Formerly Montgomery Ward, Riverview Assets, LLC purchased the building for $20M. With over $5M in renovations to the exterior and interior of the building, they have done an amazing job in maintaining the Art Deco-style of the building built in the 1920’s. Renovations continue to the 7th and 8th floors, replacing windows and upgrading the space. I was given a tour of the facility recently and it is all very impressive. Currently 2,300 people occupy the work space.

The owners of Riverview Center recently purchased the Mid-City Shopping Center. Plans include upgrading the facade to mimic the design character of Riverview Center, while seeking tenants to fill the vacant space and making improvements for the current tenants.

In July 2015, KeyBank closed three of their local branches, including Menands, as demand for branch services diminished with customers doing more banking by phone and on-line. While the closing left a void for banking in Menands, it opened the doors for the Village to purchase the property at 280 Broadway in December 2015 for $150,000. With a budget of $100,000 set for renovations, (with funds obtained from building permit fees that year), the renovations came in under budget at $87,000. The Village offices were moved to the new location and opened for business on May 22, 2017. The police department expanded into the old space at 250 Broadway. The Village has applied for a grant to do additional improvements to the exterior of property.

Hudson Valley AAA brought their towing service to Menands in 2015. Upgrading the facade of the building and renovations to the interior created an appealing site at the south entrance to the Broadway Corridor.

RAD Soap moved to 4 Wolfert Avenue in 2015, with their production line in Menands, and their retail store in Stuyvesant Plaza. The possibility of a larger location in Menands for both production and retail is being considered.

Il Faro Restaurant, remodeled both the interior and exterior of the former Other Co. Restaurant, located at 698 North Pearl Street, opening for business in October 2015.

Peak Performance Chiropractor began renovations of both the interior and exterior of 319 Broadway in 2014 and held their Grand Opening in the spring of 2015.

Also in 2015, Family Dollar built an 8,200- sq. foot facility at 22 Broadway.

SkyZone Trampoline Park opened at 50 Simmons Lane in November 2015.

I had an opportunity recently to tour TAG Solutions at 12 Elmwood Road, the former Colonie Liquor location. TAG Solutions has been a provider of business technology for businesses of all sizes since 1991. The property owners have done a nice job on renovations to accommodate the growing needs of the businesses at this location.

We are very grateful for all the new development and efforts of our existing businesses to improve the Broadway Corridor. Most have taken pride in their own properties with upgrades and maintenance.

The Village of Menands also continues to make improvements along the corridor. New awnings were installed at both 250 & 280 Broadway to help define each space, while enhancing the appearance of the buildings. The landscaping in front of both properties, as well as throughout the Village, looks beautiful with year-round efforts of our Village Gardener, Dianne MacFarland. The annual fall display looks great, thanks to Dianne, DPW, Bill Giering, Michelle Esposito, Lisa from Black Horse Farms and Jack McDonough. The fall decorations around the gazebo also look nice. Thank you to the DPW, Tom, Shelagh and Liam for your hard work.

Upgrades to our parks continue. With the new gazebo, upgraded electric, fans and hood in the pavilion, buildings painted, Ganser-Smith Park is even more beautiful. Additional upgrades at Ganser-Smith Park are planned for the spring, as are improvements to the Nature Trail and other areas around the Village.

While we are grateful for the progress along the Broadway Corridor, we are also mindful of the neglect and vacancy that still exists. When Price Chopper closed its doors on January 28, 2017 another void was created for the Village. Price Chopper owners stated a good deal of business in Menands had gone to their other stores in the area, such as Latham, Watervliet and Troy. Unfortunately, with upgrades made to the other locations but not in Menands due to age and size, sales in Menands dropped as people shopped elsewhere, resulting in its closing.

Price Chopper closing also influenced Save-More Wine and Liquors, who closed their doors in September after 40 years of doing business in Menands. I had an opportunity to stop in to see Shannon at her new location at 50 N. Greenbush Road and while it was hard for her to say good-bye to Menands, she is excited about this next phase in her life and grateful for her Menands customers who followed her to the new location. I thanked Shannon for the many years of doing business in Menands and wished her much success with her new store.

With economic development, public safety and infrastructure continuing to be our top priorities, we will continue to meet with developers, owners, property managers and others, to showcase all that Menands has to offer and advocate for future development. With over $5M in infrastructure improvements already completed in the Village and additional projects under consideration, updating and expanding our public safety equipment and annual paving projects continuing, not only does this improve the quality of life for our residents it also creates incentives for new development.

Another attraction for residents and business owners is the strong sense of community that is found in Menands. With year-round activities for the residents to enjoy, they also serve as a positive economic development tool, with business owners in Menands encouraging their employees to participate in community events. I am always happy to meet new people who work in the Village at concerts and other activities.

Upcoming events include:

  • Village Halloween Party on Sunday, October 29, 2017, meeting at the Menands Fire House at 12:30 for a parade to the park for fun activities from 1 – 3.
  • The MFC Auxiliary is hosting a craft fair on Saturday, November 4th from 10 – 3 at the Menands School gym.
  • Fill the Mayflower Food Drive will be held on November 18 & 19.
  • The Youth Holiday celebration will be held on December 8th with a ride on Santa’s Magical Express.

Details for these and other events can be found in the Menands Activities.

Until next time,
Mayor Meg