Quadrini prepared to pay over $2M to clean and build on Master Cleaners site

— From documents on file with Guilderland’s Development Planning Committee 

This early concept plan for “Foundry Village,” which Armand Quadrini hopes to propose for the site of the old Master Cleaners and other run-down, empty buildings on Western Avenue near Foundry Road shows an approximately 16,000-square-foot building with retail on the first floor and apartments above. The roof line would vary, with some building modules three stories, and others four. Basements would have parking and storage space. 

GUILDERLAND — Developer Armand Quadrini is prepared to pay for the cleanup of the Master Cleaners brownfield site in Guilderland and the surrounding run-down properties, as part of his proposal to build there an apartment-and-commercial complex called Foundry Village. 

The plan is conditional, he told The Enterprise, on getting permission from the town for a density high enough to make the project economically feasible. 

There are many obstacles yet for Quadrini to overcome, including how many units he would be allowed to build and whether issues related to road improvements can be worked out. 

The developer envisions Foundry Village at 2300 Western Ave. as a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, which would involve both residential and commercial property in a single development and offer more flexibility in height and density than other zoning districts. 

Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik told The Enterprise this week that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has estimated it could cost more than $2.4 million to remediate the site. 

According to Quadrini’s project narrative, “The contamination from the Master Cleaners site has spread to adjacent properties. Other properties contained apartments, retail office space and a service station. These sites also contain some amounts of contamination. The entire 13-acre site may be designated as a ‘brownfield’ site depending on findings of ongoing investigations.”

The DEC defines a “brownfield” as any real property where a contaminant is present at levels exceeding the soil cleanup objective or other health-based or environmental standards, criteria, or guidance adopted by DEC.

The most concerning contaminant at the Master Cleaners site, the DEC says, is tetrachloroethene, or PCE, found in groundwater and soils at the site as a result of dry-cleaning operations. PCE is a volatile organic compound, or VOC, used as a solvent in many industries.

Quadrini presented his proposal at last week’s Development Planning Committee meeting, a first step for developers to get input from town department heads before submitting a formal application.

His plan for “Foundry Village” involves tearing down all the buildings on a 13-acre site —  7.1 acres of which are considered buildable — and remediating the contamination throughout the site. Quadrini’s project narrative says that he would also clean up any abandoned vehicles and debris on the site. 

He wants to construct a building with a varying roof line because of staggered three- and four-story modules. Each of the 11 modules would use varied building materials and colors and each would have its own entrances and eleavors and would offer a combination of two-bedroom, one-bedroom, and studio apartments; each module would have storage space and parking space in the basement, according to Quadrini’s project narrative. 

At least one module would be established exclusively for seniors, the narrative states. Planned amenities include an outdoor pool and indoor gym, community room, and activities’ area.

 

Density 

Quadrini initially told the Development Planning Committee that he would need 248 units to make the project work, but he told The Enterprise this week that he was now “hoping” to get permission for less than half that, for 120 units. 

PUD projects do not have a set limit on density, but the town board typically uses the density allowed in the multi-residential district as a guide for determining density for PUD projects, Kovalchik explained to The Enterprise. The maximum density allowed in the MR district is 12 dwelling units per buildable acre.

Using that figure, 12 dwelling units on each of 7 acres would allow for 84 units, Kovalchik said. At the meeting, he indicated to Quadrini that the town might have some flexibility with regard to density, “considering the amount of remediation that is required to clean up the brownfield,” Kovalchik told The Enterprise this week.

He estimated that, in this case, the town might support from 14 to 16 units per acre, or from 98 to 112 units. 

Quadrini told The Enterprise he hopes to get 120 units. 

 

Road improvements

Quadrini’s narrative proposes a full access entrance with a traffic light at about the center of the site. The point where he proposes this light is across Western Avenue, or Route 20, from Schoolcraft Street, a small, dead-end street a block east of Willow Street. 

There is already a four-way traffic light at Willow Street. 

Quadrini’s narrative says Western Avenue, which is a state road, would be widened to accommodate a center turn lane at the new signal and that a second full-access point would be located further east on the site

Kovalchik told The Enterprise that town officials met recently with officials from the state’s Department of Transportation to discuss a number of projects currently being reviewed by the town, including this one. 

The DOT indicated it would probably not support a traffic signal at Schoolcraft Street, Kovalchik said, due to its close proximity to the Guilderland firehouse signal and the Foundry Road signal. 

The 13-acre property at the corner of Route 20 and Foundry Road is currently owned by Charles Bohl. Kovalchik noted that any development project on the Bohl property would require improvements to Foundry Road, which would likely mean providing land from the Bohl property for an increased right-of-way. 

 

History 

Master Cleaners was in operations from about 1956 through 1996. In 2019, the DEC found that the site “poses a significant threat to public health or the environment,” and that remedial action is required. 

Sites of former dry cleaners are notorious for chemical contamination. 

In its report, the DEC said that the most concerning contaminant was PCE. Exposure to PCE may harm the nervous system, liver, kidneys, and reproductive system, and may be harmful to unborn children, and it may be correlated with a higher risk of cancer, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry of the United States Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. 

A developer, The Genitor Organization of Melville, New York, had been interested in the site several years ago and had proposed building an assisted-living facility there, but the sale fell through over disagreements with landowner Charles Bohl over who would be responsible for the cost of the environmental cleanup. 

About a year ago, a developer expressed an interest in a “workforce building project” on the site, Kovalchik said this week. That developer had proposed 75 units and planned to house one of the town’s ambulances, as part of the project.

That developer, whom Kovalchik did not identify, could have made the project work at that density by using “brownfield credits” from the DEC, Kovalchik said. The number of those credits is limited, Kovalchik explained, and “the developer decided not to pursue the brownfield credits at that time due to a business associate who had already applied for funding and he did not want to compete in the same funding round.” 

Quadrini, who is 80, said he has already cleaned up four or five sites in Guilderland over the years and hopes he will be able to do this last one as well.

He told The Enterprise he tore down eight or 10 buildings to create Carpenter Village; he demolished a number of “shacks and fruit stands” to put up the office building that stands at 1873 Western Ave.; he cleaned up the “motels and shacks” that had stood where Capital City Diner is now, at the corner of Western Avenue and Rapp Road; and he rejuvenated 20 Mall — now known as Hamilton Square — and sold it to its present owner, William Lia.

“When I bought it, it was dilapidated and vacant,” Quadrini said of 20 Mall. 

 

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