Officials in Troy have kicked off a week of meetings to gather input on the future of a riverfront site in the city’s downtown.
Following a film screening and a presentation on the history of One Monument Square, Troy residents pooled their ideas Monday at the first of three public meetings to decide what to do with the property that was the previously home to City Hall.
Trojans of all ages attended the meeting. Deputy Mayor Monica Kurzejeski was pleased with the turnout. Monday’s event was all about ideas, ideas, ideas.
“It’s not about saying no, this isn’t the way we should do it. It’s about saying this is how we should do it.”
As Troy’s downtown has seen a resurgence in the past decade, the 1.6-acre site has remained empty. Multiple redevelopment projects have come and gone without advancing beyond blueprints, most recently an 11-screen movie theater.
Squeezed between the river and River Street, the site is not without problems. Future developers must accommodate a major utility corridor at the site and a 50-foot setback from the Hudson River.
Armed with about $3 million in grant funding from a variety of sources, the city is looking to begin a successful redevelopment by the end of the year.
Prior to the meeting, a “blank canvas” was hung on a fence outside the site on River Street. By Monday’s meeting, it was filled with anonymous suggestions. Some recurring suggestions were additional parking, a park, and a space for the city’s famed farmers market.
Currently, the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market rents space inside the Troy Atrium building during the winter. Operations manager Liz Comitale would like to see the market have a more permanent home.
“What we really hope from the space is a more adaptable space that fits our needs, addresses amenity issues like simple things like bathrooms, ADA compliance, things of that nature,” said Comitale.
The city is also placing bets on the farmers market. It included placeholder projects for both the farmers market and One Monument Square in its recent application for a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative state grant.
During a breakout session, some had questions for officials with the farmers market, which currently operates on Saturday mornings.
Comitale said the organization is studying ways to expand the market if given a flexible space.
“We are definitely doing hardcore strategic planning and business development in order to keep the space alive and active throughout the week, throughout the day, throughout the evening,” said Comitale.
Several in attendance wanted to see a space that would offer family-friendly activities or a public, civic space, instead of bars and restaurants, many of which have popped up all over downtown in the last few years.
Russell Brooks, principal at River King Development, which owns property downtown, warned that the city must be prepared to approve a project that may not necessarily make money.
“If the city was more flush, it could just step up and develop that site as a civic site. So I think since we really don’t have the money here in Troy to do that right now, we look to the grant process and we look to a for-profit/not-for-profit/some sort of partnership to make this happen and make it a great spot on the river that the city uses,” said Brooks.
While viewing an aerial map of the location, Troy resident Jack Magai told consultants at the meeting that he wanted whatever is put at the site to remain flush with the other buildings along the riverfront, making a clear line of sight from the adjacent Riverfront Park to One Monument Square.
“So I’m proposing that we take advantage of the vacancy, the fact that there’s no building there now, and have the new building, whatever it is, not extend beyond that line,” said Magai.
Consultant Ian Law, Principal at PLACE Alliance, said Tuesday would be a “draw day” where suggestions will be taken into account and transformed into designs on paper.
“And then we’ll have kind of a whole ‘nother kind of day of that on Wednesday, to get ready for Wednesday night. We’ll invite everyone to come back and see what we came up with,” said Law.
An open house to discuss possible designs will be held Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m. A community design review meeting is set for Thursday at 6 p.m.
All meetings are being held at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on River Street.