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.

Tim Becker

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