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Good News For Downtown Albany

Albany City Hall
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Downtown Albany is undergoing a major facelift, from new apartments to a major convention center project. Now, more projects are in store for the city's core.

The Albany 2030 project was launched in 2010 and featured planning and housing initiatives and studies as well as economic, neighborhood revitalization and economic development plans. There have been meetings and suggestions, and lots of anticipation. There was some talk of building an aquarium, and some action when it was announced the famed Hoffman's Playland would be sold and relocated to North Albany. For nearly a year, citizens, activists, businesspeople and elected officials were caught up in the "casino fever" that swept the state when it was announced there would be competition to build Las Vegas-style gaming halls in sectored regions upstate.

Downtown revitalization got a double-shot in the arm this week as the state announced the issuance of Request for Proposals for Purchase and Redevelopment of a site that includes 4.5 acres formerly slated for the Albany Convention Center and related development.

The property consists of seven parcels of land off Broadway and Hudson Avenue. It includes several buildings and parking lots.  Albany County Executive Dan McCoy lauded the issuance of the request for proposals.     "It's really gonna help the City of Albany with a mixed use of, hopefully, I think what they're looking for is housing, as well as commercial, that will really incorporate the feeling and revitalize downtown Albany in a way that it should have happened 10 years ago if the convention center originally sited was there, but now that they've moved it, it really does give the unique opportunity to enhance downtown Albany."

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan was not available for comment Friday. In a statement, she said it will "unleash downtown Albany's full potential.  By working together the City and State will create a development that is vibrant and integrated into our walkable, livable, urban fabric.”

  • The RFP, which also features a map of the site and surrounding area, can be found on ESD’s website at http://esd.ny.gov/CorporateInformation/RFPs.html. A tour of the site will be held on February 11, 2015.  The deadline to submit questions is March 2, 2015 and proposals are due March 26, 2015.

The second shot of good news involves the "final" convention center site: the Albany Convention Center Authority is awarding $17.5 million in bids, equaling 35 percent of the total Albany Capital Center project. Georgette Steffens, executive director of the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, says the Convention Center Authority met Friday morning.  "They voted to award the first three contracts. It's for purchasing and installation of a lot of the steel, pile-driving, to really set the foundation for the construction of the building."
Work on the $66.5 million convention center is set to begin this spring, with the facility scheduled to open in autumn 2016. 

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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