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New Vision For Troy's One Monument Square Revealed

A new vision has emerged for the center of downtown Troy. The latest concept to redevelop One Monument Square has been unveiled.

The former Troy City Hall on River Street was demolished in 2011.

After years of failed projects – most recently a planned movie theater – a new concept was unveiled Monday evening.

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden envisions a great public space, but he cautioned the standing-room-only audience about the realities of the project.

“Public spaces will largely be on our dime. That’s the biggest challenge ahead of us. How do we make that happen? We don’t have an answer for that tonight. But it is something that we’ll be committing considerable time and effort on over the foreseeable future,” said Madden.

In June, consultants were brought in to hold four nights of public meetings on the project. Ideas were gathered in person and on a large canvas hung on the fence that separates Monument Square from the empty space beside the Hudson River.

With input from the public, the city, and developers, a concept has been rendered.

Consultant Ian Law spoke as a 3D model was displayed on screen, showing a public plaza, an eight-story structure, two smaller buildings, a clock tower, and a parking garage all connecting River Street to Riverfront Park.

“Currently you don’t have a great civic plaza. A place that you can program for all sorts of things and for the community to come together. And frankly, you don’t have another spot besides this one that works as well as this one could. And that also goes true for in the park. You don’t have a great green space, a flexible, open green space within the downtown. All great cities have them. You need one. And we’ve got to figure out a way to make that work within the park,” said Law.

Echoing the concerns brought by the mayor, consultant Margaret Irwin cautioned residents need to be “realistic” about the site after gathering input from developers. The takeaway – civic spaces don’t pay for themselves. She said the numbers have to work.

“But they did agree strongly that it would be a game-changer looking at this particular site, no matter how prominent it is already, if the city provided the parking structure, repaired the infrastructure, built the base for the plaza. That would be a significant incentive,” said Irwin.

There are other challenges facing the site. In addition to squeezing in a two-story parking structure, any building must be set back 50 feet from the Hudson River. There’s also an underground utility corridor that complicates things.

Steve Strichman, Troy’s Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development, said the city is putting together its plan.

“We’re evaluating a lot of things about this site to move forward: the availability of funds, relocating the utilities, the cost of the esplanade, the cost of the parking, the elevator for accessibility, but this creates a signature year-round public plaza. And we need to also figure out how to leverage investment from the private sector as well, and look for other sources of public funding to make this work,” said Strichman.

Strichman said it’s too early to put a pricetag on the project, though past proposals have hovered in the $20 to $30 million range.

The city has been awarded grant funding for the project – two grants expire at the end of the year. An RFQ is expected to be issued next year.

The Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market has long been interested in One Monument Square as a potential year-round home.

Zack Metzger, president of the farmers’ market, was impressed with the new concept.

“They did a great job, there’s a ton of work in there, they really did listen to the community. I’m happy that the farmers’ market is part of the conversation and that, you know, there’s going to be some flexibility here. And we’re going to have to continue in the future with some planning and thinking about this, but it looks great,” said Metzger.

The Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market will hold a community workshop to discuss the future of One Monument Square on Wednesday, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Franklin Plaza Ballroom on Fourth Street.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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