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Project To Transform Troy's One Monument Square Faces Snag

Lucas Willard

A project to transform a vacant lot in Troy’s bustling downtown has hit roadblocks once again.

Ever since the former Troy City Hall on River Street was torn down in 2011, city leaders have been looking for a way to fill the space in the heart of downtown.

Several projects to redevelop One Monument Square have come and gone. The latest proposal, an 11-screen movie theater, has hit its own snags.

A neighboring property owner, Judge Development, has threatened a lawsuit against Bonacio Construction, the developer of the movie theater in partnership with Bow Tie Cinemas, and the city.

The project was to be discussed during Tuesday night’s city Planning Commission meeting, but the discussion was put off. 

Judge Development, which had previously sought a proposal at the location, reportedly claims that the new project situated between River Street and the Hudson River does not follow proper environmental procedures.

Judge Development Corp referred a request for comment from WAMC to a local p.r. firm, which told the station to speak with the company’s attorney. A message left for David Murphy, of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, was not immediately returned Thursday.

Larry Novik, Director of Business Development at Bonacio Construction, was not available Thursday morning. But he recently told the Albany Times Union that the company will “work diligently to deal with any legitimate concerns raised by Mr. Judge.”

John Salka, a spokesman for Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, said the city is reviewing the lawsuit but would not comment further.

The proposal has angered some neighbors — both design and process.

In an August interview with WAMC, Mayor Madden defended an incentive package offered to the developers.

“There are certain additional expenses that arise as a result of working in an older environment. So incentives are often used to level the economic playing field so we can compete well with suburban communities where it is cheaper to develop,” said Madden.

Others say a movie theater is inappropriate for the riverfront property.

Resident Kyle Plante recently wrote to WAMC detailing his idea for a more “culturally and economically benefitting development.”

Speaking at a brainstorming meeting hosted by the administration last summer, Plante shared his ideas for a mixed-use project that would incorporate the riverfront.

“Entering Troy, I know that from the Green Island Bridge you can see the site, I don’t know about the Watervliet Bridge. But this is an opportunity to have a jewel of Troy here. Something that really is an admirable if not impressive site,” said Plante.

Plante argues that such a movie theater project would be more beneficial outside of the city’s historic district.

An updated draft of the proposal for the theater added outdoor space and some redesigns.

The last project to fail at One Monument Square happened in early 2016. That project would have included apartments, commercial space, and a year-round home for the city’s popular farmers market.

The project was abandoned after negotiations with the city stalled. Developers have also faced challenges related to a nearby utility corridor and limited space, due to the proximity of the river.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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