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Fifth One Monument Square Project Moves Forward Another Inch

One Monument Square
Lucas Willard
One Monument Square

A project to redevelop the site of the former City Hall in downtown Troy took another step forward Thursday night.

It’s been nearly nine years since a wrecking ball knocked down the former Troy city hall. Now, the latest incarnation of what’s to fill the hole beside the Hudson River is under discussion.

This time, after several public meetings and design “charrettes,” the city has chosen a developer to partner with, a firm called Hoboken Brownstone. And there’s a push by the administration to get the ball rolling…for the fifth time. Steve Strichman is Troy’s Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development.

“We’ve sold it four times for $600,000. The important thing is to get the property developed,” said Strichman.

Past strategies by the city have been to issue an RFP, chose a developer, and sell the property. This time, they’re doing things differently. At Thursday night’s city Finance Committee meeting, councilors approved an option to transfer the 1.1 acre property to and through the city’s Local Development Corporation on a 4-to-1 vote.

Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden wants to see it move forward.

“The ordinance, it allows us to use a mechanism that is available to us under state law to use our Local Development Corporation, to facilitate the transaction,” said Madden.

The mayor points to similar LDCs in other Capital Region communities, Albany and Schenectady.

As councilors debated the ordinance, Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello proposed an amendment – to ensure that any proceeds from the transfer of the property to the developer were directed to the city within 30 days, and to include at least one public hearing.

The amendment was voted down. Here’s Mantello.

“I do hope that this project does move forward, I do so feel, though, that what we are doing tonight does not continue the transparency and accountability that this city council would have done,” said Mantello.

City leaders insist that involving the LDC will not result in a lack of oversight by the city council and that price has not been a point of discussion with Hoboken, as a design hasn’t been rendered.

“I think the price for the property is not a great consideration because contrary to previous iterations, this is going to include a significant portion of public space,” said Madden.

Under the terms of the city’s Request for Qualifications, the developer must adhere to the public desire for civic space. That was one concern with a previous plan for a movie theater that would have limited river access.

Sumeet Gupta, Principal at Hoboken Brownstone, says he hasn’t spoken about financials with the city.

“We’re not focused right now on trying to figure out exactly how many dollars should be going in one direction or the other. Our focus is being able to deliver on the project, period,” said Gupta.

The ordinance approved Thursday night will go before the entire city council at its regular December 5th meeting.

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