AIDA accepts proposal from Cranesville Properties for downtown development

If all goes according to plan, the former Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame building and an adjacent building could house commercial and residential tenants in less than two years. The Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency, which owns the two buildings, approved a resolution at a special meeting on Wednesday to accept a proposal from Cranesville Properties, which also owns the Riverfront Center, to purchase and redevelop the vacant buildings on Main Street in Amsterdam.

Cranesville’s proposal is to develop three commercial spaces on the ground floors of the buildings, and residential apartments on the second and third floors. The proposal is contingent on securing a $500,000 Restore New York grant, which AIDA will work with Montgomery County and the City of Amsterdam on submitting. The total cost of the proposed project is $800,000, with Cranesville contributing the remaining $300,000. $180,000 of the budget will go toward purchasing the properties from AIDA.

At the meeting, AIDA Chairman Pat Baia asked Director Jody Zakrevsky how likely it was that the project would be awarded the grant or receive the full amount.

Zakrevsky said he believes the chances are good for a number of reasons. First, he cited Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul as saying recently that cities such as Amsterdam who applied for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, but did not receive it, would be given special consideration for future grants. The fact that the downtown area was recently designated as part of the Brownfield Opportunity Area is also a positive factor. He also said that the project fits perfectly with the intent of the grant, which is to help restore abandoned or underutilized buildings.

The former tenant of the building, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, moved to Wichita Falls at the beginning of the year. The hall of fame had been renting the building from AIDA for $1 per year.

Cranesville’s proposal was one of two considered by the board. The other was from J. Marco Johnson who proposed turning one of the buildings into a two-level restaurant and bar. However, the proposal was not as detailed as the one Cranesville submitted.

Board member Joe Emanuele said he had spoken personally to Johnson about the project and had requested at last week’s meeting for the request for proposals deadline to be extended so that Johnson could submit a stronger proposal. However, board members agreed that extending the deadline could put meeting the October 3 deadline for the grant submission at risk.

“I like the idea that here’s a young man, who would really like to invest, and he has a backer. But he just couldn’t put together as well as a proposal as Cranesville,” said Emanuele.

Emanuele described Johnson’s idea as a cross between Cafe Lena in Saratoga Springs and the Van Dyke in Schenectady.

“I think this idea would be great somewhere downtown,” said Emanuele. “I’m thinking if he’s still interested…we try to bring him in, show him other buildings, show him other sites.”

Other board members voiced agreement with Emanuele.

Zakrevsky said he expects to know if the grant is awarded by early January 2017 at the latest. After which, he said a tentative time-line would be for renovations to begin in April and be completed the following year.

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About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of LLC which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

2 Responses to AIDA accepts proposal from Cranesville Properties for downtown development

  1. Avatardennis oconnor says:

    Crain needs 1/2 a million welfare funds? before they kick in $300 K for that ultra fine property?…let me guess..they were the only ones to show ANY interest.
    That aside..
    I’m sure that there are weatlhy folks in the Mowhawk Valley just drooling at the prospect of having Million dollar apartments on Main St..

    • AvatarTim Becker says:

      Sounds like you didn’t quite read the entire article – there was one other proposal submitted but it wasn’t nearly as detailed as Cranesville’s and only proposed purchasing one building, not two.

      Your comments come across very negative in tone, but they do allude to some points that are worth talking about:

      – As I look at some of the details of these large projects – it’s seems it’s almost impossible for developers to make an attractive profit in Amsterdam without the influx of public dollars, and I’m guessing other upstate NY cities are in the same boat. Both Cranesville and AIDA did a “pro forma” or estimate on the projected profit for this project, and it only came out to be about 31k for the first year. So it’s going to take a while before Cranesville is able to generate a return on their investment. One could argue it would be safer and easier just to throw the 300k in a CD or something and get the same return. Somehow the numbers have to be attractive for developers, otherwise they won’t move. So I think it’s great that Cranesville is beginning to invest in downtown, and they should be encouraged. These initial investments are crucial as they will help bring foot traffic and build momentum that hopefully will make the area even more attractive/profitable for future developers.

      – I do wonder how well the RFP was advertised in the region such that they only received two proposals. If all they do is run the ad on page 12 or whatever in the Recorder, does that really get the word out well enough? At least two real estate agencies wanted the chance to market the property, but AIDA didn’t go for them. I think in the future, AIDA’s got to make an effort to market their properties to a wider audience, otherwise we are short-changing ourselves.

      – Not sure if you’ve heard, but the rental market has taken off. Many younger people are looking to rent, not buy, and are increasingly looking at cities as well. How large the market is, I’m not sure, but there is a need for nicer apartments in the city, which was pointed out in Fulton/Montgomery County regional economic plan:
      “…local CEO’s advise that the Region’s lack of a diverse housing stock is a negative quality of life issue. The predominant housing type in this Region is single-family homes. While its availability and low cost is an asset, the lack of alternate forms of housing is a quality of life liability. There are few options other than single family housing for young professionals. This market tends to enjoy luxury apartments, condos, etc. rather than houses.”

      So I think the developers who are building a small number of units to test the waters are on the right track.