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Chancellor Zimpher Kicks Off Centennial Celebration With Reopening Of SUNY Plaza

It’s a new era for one of the Albany skyline’s most famous buildings. State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher was joined by downtown business officials and community members this morning to cut the ribbon on the recently renovated SUNY Plaza front lawn and main entrance.

Half a century ago, locals knew the gothic structure at the foot of State Street as "The D&H building."  What was once the stately home of Delaware and Hudson Railway offices and headquarters for the Albany Evening Journal newspaper on Broadway has been occupied by SUNY since the late 1970s.  Nancy Zimpher is SUNY Chancellor.  "SUNY Plaza was designed by a local architect, Marcus T. Reynolds. Many of you who know your history know that. It was designed to be the headquarters for the Delaware & Hudson Railroad. We have people who work in this building today whose parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents worked here. Many people still know the building as the D&H Building, which is fine and dandy, as long as you slip in, 'SUNY Plaza.' So, we like both."

Part of the reason for the million-dollar upgrade: making the building more accessible, more "people friendly." The freshly landscaped plaza in front of the building — already home to a weekly farmers market — now features a new sidewalk and circular pedestrian drop-off area for cars.  "We had grounds to take care of. We had water and electrical and drainage issues and thought that this renovation would be the best opportunity to fix some of those problems as well."

Zimpher says the front doors will be open during business hours so people can stroll through the hall of flags and take in a display of student artwork.  "Over the next weeks, months and a couple of years, 'cause we think we can celebrate the centennial 'til 2018, we will have book signings, we'll have speakers, we'll have art exhibits..."

Commercial businesses are also expected to move in.    Michael Castellana, President & CEO of SEFCU and Chairman of the Board of Capitalize Albany Corporation, expects more great changes are in store for Albany, referring to the economic competition worth $500 million colloquially known as the upstate Hunger Games.    "When we win the upstate revitalization initiative, hopefully you've got that on film, when we win that, you will see a transformation of this city and this region like you have never seen before. So please, between now and when the winners are actually announced, please mention that to whoever you can in influence, so that we get those economic development monies and we can change the lives that we will truly change."

The ribbon-cutting kicked off a year-long celebration of the System Administration building’s centennial anniversary.

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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