Colonie-based Cass Hill Development to resurrect Schenectady’s Wedgeway building

SCHENECTADY — A Colonie-based real estate company is poised to take on one of the city’s most daunting commercial turnarounds: Redevelopment of the problem-plagued Wedgeway building.

Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority is working with Cass Hill Development to restore and enlarge the two-building complex located at 271 and 277 State St. in downtown Schenectady. Architectural drawings for the site include a large addition that would expand the building from its currently location at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard to the corner of Erie and Liberty Street.

Renderings show a six-story brick building that would fill a area now used for parking.

Metroplex announced its involvement on Wednesday, capping off two years of speculation over the future of one of downtown’s most troubled properties.

Over the past few years, the owner of 271-277 State LLC, the limited liability corporation that runs the two properties, has been locked in a legal and court battle with the city over city code violations around issues on its outside, prompting the city to erect a chain-link fence on the Erie Boulevard side of the street due to falling bricks.

Through it all, residential tenants defied orders to vacate, exposing the city’s limited ability to keep people out of condemned and potentially dangerous buildings.

The stirring of potential redevelopment intensified after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the vacant office and residential building was among the five properties in the region recommended for inclusion on state and national registers of historic places.

Inclusion paves the way for developers to be eligible for public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, a technique other developers, including Redburn Development Partners, have leaned on to revitalize relics of the city’s faded boomtown past.

The renovated building will include up to 80 apartments and 14,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space, according to Metroplex, who will chip in an incentive package worth more than $500,000.

“The Wedgeway building has great historical significance to the city of Schenectady and I take very seriously the responsibility of honoring that legacy,” said Marc Paquin, CEO of Cass Hill Development, in a statement. “I look forward to furthering the downtown resurgence by breathing new life into this important landmark.”

Paquin nodded to numerous agencies that helped facilitate the effort, including Metroplex, Schenectady County and the city.

Metroplex will hold a public hearing on Wednesday and the project will appear before the city Planning Commission on April 20. The Metroplex board will then review the project the following week.

The building has seen an exodus of commercial and residential tenants over the years and is now vacant following The Photo-Lab’s departure in November. 

Cass Hill Development owns and manages more than 1.25 million square feet of residential, office and industrial space in the Capital Region, including The Argus and the Monroe Apartments in downtown Albany, as well as two developments in Glens Falls.

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen called Paquin “the type of developer with a proven track record that can take on a challenging project and succeed. We will work closely with him as we move forward to renovate this critical building at the most visible corner in downtown Schenectady.”

Wedgeway opened in 1885 at a time when it reflected Schenectady’s economic boom. The building was expanded in 1912 and 1922 and was the city’s largest office building, housing the State Theater and other attractions.

While the city lost its bid to prosecute the owner on the code violations in a trial last year, the city filed 10 new violations against the LLC operated by William Eichengrun in September.

A listing from a New Jersey-based broker on LoopNet lists the 34-unit building at $2.63 million.

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