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Redburn eyes purchase of Bank of America building in Schenectady

Redburn eyes purchase of Bank of America building in Schenectady

Sale would clinch entire block for developers
Redburn eyes purchase of Bank of America building in Schenectady
The Bank of America building at State and Clinton streets in Schenectady Friday, August 28, 2020.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber/Staff Photographer

SCHENECTADY — Redburn Development Partners own a rapidly-expanding chunk of downtown real estate. 

Now the developers have their eye on the Bank of America building located at the corner of State and Clinton streets. 

Redburn put in for $2.75 million in Schenectady Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) funds for an ambitious series of projects that would transform the Clinton Street corridor. 

“If that goes though, we will purchase the building,” said Redburn principal Jeff Buell. 

The sale currently is pending.

Purchase of the sprawling three-story structure with multiple marble storefronts would sew up the 500 block of State Street for the developers, whose headquarters are located in the recently renovated Foster Building located on the block. 

Located across State Street is the site of the developer’s proposed 49-unit apartment building, which will occupy the site of the former Citizens Bank building that was torn down earlier this summer. 

The developers are currently negotiating with prospective tenants to fill the 60,000-square-foot Bank of America building, whose lone remaining tenant is Bank of America after Eddy SeniorCare moved its day program for senior citizens to Rotterdam.

Buell stopped short of disclosing a sales price, but estimated total project costs could reach $15 million.

“We’ll be gutting the entire building and starting from scratch,” Buell said. “It’s a significant project.”

The bank branch occupies just 6,000 square feet of space in the building.

“It’s severely underutilized, to say the least,” said Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen. 

Redburn often uses historic tax credits to renovate historic structures, and the Bank of America project will use that same approach, Gillen said on Thursday. 

The building dates back to 1834, when it was established as the Schenectady Savings Bank.

The purchase is just one component of Redburn’s broader $38.7 million effort to redevelop three blocks of Clinton Street, a pathway both Redburn and local officials acknowledge is underdeveloped. 

Buell hopes to create an economic corridor from the I-890 ramps, up Clinton Street and into downtown. 

Other DRI projects — including a city-sponsored project to reopen a closed strip of North Jay Street to Erie Boulevard — would then carry that momentum through Little Italy and ultimately, Mohawk Harbor.

“We look at the Clinton Street corridor as a vitally important connector,” Buell said.

Purchase of the Bank of America building would create a virtually uninterrupted pathway of ownership down the southwest block of Clinton Street, with only the Backstage Pub standing between Redburn’s other holding, the former OTB building, which the developers purchased last December and aim to convert into affordable housing. 

“The project is intended to fill up the block,” Buell said. 

Redburn also owns the Fitzgerald Building on the northeast block of Clinton Street.

While Metroplex provided $295,000 for project costs at 501 State St., where Citizen Bank was town down, it will not commit funding to the Bank of America effort. 

The state awarded Schenectady $10 million in DRI funds last fall.

Local panelists guiding how the grants will be allocated have until Sept. 2 to submit ballots in support or against a bundle of 18 projects, including Redburn's proposal. 

The state ultimately must approve all projects recommended for funding, but the timeline for doing so remains unclear. 

Redburn has said all of their rental properties are fully occupied.

But the 500 block of State Street has seen significant churn this year, with all ground-floor commercial tenants except for Bluebird Home Decor seeing turnover.

The Nest is poised to open in the former Slidin’ Dirty’s space in October; Buell said. Palette, a female-focused co-working space, will take the slot of Liza’s of Schenectady, while Red Door Beauty Shop will occupy the storefront once hosting the Makeup Curio, which relocated to 600 Franklin St.

Across the street, site work is nearly complete on the site of the former Citizens Bank.

“We’re hoping to start construction this fall with probably an early summer completion date,” Buell said. 

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