SCHENECTADY — The city’s development department is seeking to rezone three dozen plots between Barrett Street and Seward Place in hopes of developing a number of properties in the area that have sat vacant for years.
Plans include expanding downtown by rezoning 36 lots along Park Place, Seward Place, South Avenue and Barrett Street from two-family residence to mixed-use downtown. Officials believe the change will make the area more attractive to developers who would otherwise pass on properties due to current zoning restrictions.
“Because there are a lot of vacant lots, we determined it made more sense to expand the town center to try and encourage the ongoing economic development in the area,” said Christine Primiano, senior town planner. from the city.
Primiano, at a meeting of the city’s planning commission last week, said the development department had reviewed the city’s zoning code and developed a list of recommended changes for the development of a new comprehensive plan, which is currently in the planning phase. .
She added that there were no plans to develop any of the 36 properties and that taxes for single-family and two-family residences in the area of the proposed change would not be affected if the proposal were approved by city council.
The proposed changes would also support the Jay Street Connector Trail, which would connect downtown to Mohawk Harbour. The project is set to receive funding as part of the city’s downtown revitalization, a $10 million state grant awarded in 2019 that aims to attract private investment through the use of public funds.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority supports the plans.
“The goal is to convert some of the vacant, barren land and empty buildings into something beautiful,” said Ray Gillen, president of Metroplex.
Council has already held a public hearing needed to change the zoning law, and the Planning Commission recommended that the zoning change be approved last week. A final vote on the matter may take place as early as the next meeting of City Council.
Although no one raised concerns at the public hearing, a handful of residents peppered the planning commissioners with questions about the proposal and future development plans in the neighborhood.
Neighbors said rumors were circulating that a large-scale affordable apartment complex had been proposed for the area, which they said would not be suitable for the area.
The city is unaware of such a development, according to Primiano.
Commissioners also assured residents that any plan must first be approved by the Planning Commission and meet all zoning criteria – including a provision that requires projects to fit into the neighbourhood. Members also explained that any proposal would likely be on a small scale due to the size of the roads in the neighborhood.
The area has received little interest compared to the adjacent Union Street corridor in recent years.
Live In Schenectady, a coalition of local developers, banks and businesses including The Daily Gazette Co., recently built a number of townhouses along Barrett Street, which has been turned into a two-way street in 2016 in hopes of attracting further development.
The houses were built on city-owned land, which the organization purchased at market value. A second phase of construction should begin in the coming months.
Here is a list of properties that would be affected by the proposed zoning change:
- 5, 7, 9-15, 17-22 and 24-26 Place du Parc.
- 103, 105 and 107 Seward Place.
- 709 Union St.
- 608, 610, 614, 616, 700, 702, 704, 706 and 708 South Ave.
- 1038, 1044, 1048, 1052 and 1062 Barrett Street.
Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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