Governors Motor Inn and Nedco may be torn down

Inferno Pizzeria

The Enterprise — Michael Koff 

Inferno Pizzeria will move into the empty Stewart’s Shop a block away at the corner of Western Avenue and Gipp Road. Inferno owner Nicholas Riggione told The Enterprise he hopes to open the new store “probably within the next month

GUILDERLAND — New solutions may soon erase two abandoned, dilapidated buildings from the Guilderland landscape.

The Governors Motor Inn may have a developer. And the old Nedco Pharmacy may be torn down to make way for a roundabout at the intersection of Carman Road and Lydius Street. 

 “We’re getting close,” said Adam Zaranko, executive director of the Albany County Land Bank. He was referring to a deal that has tentatively been reached with a developer to purchase the Governors Motor Inn at 2505 Western Ave. 

“We are currently binding the terms in a contract that is not yet final or executed,” he said. 

Because the deal is not final, Zaranko said that he could only say that, subject to necessary approvals, “the proposed redevelopment program would result in the removal of the long blighted structure and replace it with a new, commercial use that is consistent with the site’s Local Business District zone. 

This zone allows for uses including an office building not exceeding 20,000 feet or a small bed-and-breakfast. It also allows, with a special-use permit, a bank including a drive-through, a convenience store, a garden store, an office building larger than 20,000 square feet, a sit-down restaurant, and a local shopping center. 

“We are excited to be close to a solution for the property as we know it’s been an eyesore for the community for quite some time. At the same time, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves with respect to where we are in the process,” Zaranko said. 

The Governors Motor Inn has been owned by the land bank for the last year through tax foreclosure. It had been a vacant eyesore since part of the once-swank motel burned in 2010 and in decline for years before that. 

It had been for sale on the real-estate market for one year prior to being taken over by the land bank, but had been plagued by more than $200,000 due in back taxes and by the need to demolish the structure and remediate the asbestos. 

The land bank sought developers to apply to bring the property back into constructive use; it looks carefully at each application and applicant, Zaranko explained earlier, to make sure that the application chosen “has a high probability of successful redevelopment.” 

Recently, the land bank took bids from companies to find out how much it might cost for the land bank to have the demolition and remediation done, to make the property more attractive to developers. 

But Zaranko said this week, “Under the draft terms of sale, the developer would be required to remove the asbestos prior to demolishing the blighted structures.” 

Nedco demolished?

Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber told The Enterprise this week that it is his understanding that, as part of a proposed roundabout at Carman Road and Lydius Street, the New York State Department of Transportation intends to acquire the long-vacant Nedco Pharmacy property on the corner and remove the building. 

The Department of Transportation will hold an informational session at Pine Bush Elementary School on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the planned improvements to the intersection. The department says project construction will begin in the spring of 2021, and will include resurfacing Carman Road from Coons Road to the New York State Thruway bridge.

Bryan Viggiani, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, told The Enterprise this week that the meeting will be an “open house,” with no formal presentation but with DOT representatives on hand to answer questions from the public.

The project would be federally funded under a federal safety program, Barber said. The program uses federal dollars to identify intersections that could benefit from improvements, he said.

The town has expected, for the last year or so, that improvements to the intersection would include only new turn lanes, Barber said. 

But the DOT, after a cost-benefit analysis, changed the plan from new turn lanes to a roundabout, Barber said, to get vehicles quickly and efficiently through the intersection. 

“A large part of that is safety for both cars and pedestrians,” Barber said. Asked if there had been “a lot of accidents” at the intersection, he said there had been “at least enough” to cause the DOT to re-evaluate and change the plan. 

In addition to the already-planned new sidewalks along Carman Road from the intersection as far as Jessamine Road, Barber said, a $250,000 grant secured by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy will continue the sidewalks further, all the way to Coons Road, the site of Pine Bush Elementary School. 

As a cost-saving measure, Barber said, the town plans to have the DOT design the sidewalks, just as it will also design the sidewalks planned for Western Avenue from Mercy Care Lane to the State Employees Credit Union just west of Market 32. 

Asking the DOT to do the work as part of a larger project is a more efficient use of dollars than it would be for the town to hire an engineer, Barber said. 

 

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Chico’s BBQ at 2490 Western Ave. has been empty for about a decade but is not for sale. The owners maintain the nearly two-acre property and pay the property taxes, said town officials.

 

Other updates

The Enterprise also looked around the town at various properties that are vacant, or where projects have been approved but not yet built, to update the public on their current status: 

— Pine Bush Senior Living, 22-24 New Karner Rd., near Western Avenue:

Chief Executive Officer Timothy B. Cassidy of Senior Consulting LLC said this week that construction is expected to start in April 2020. 

Cassidy had told The Enterprise this spring that he expected to break ground on Pine Bush Senior Living in the fall of 2019. 

Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik said this week that one condition of the local law approving the facility stated, “The lots shall revert to their former zoning classification if a building permit is not issued for a structure for an independent living facility or assisted living facility within 3 years of the effective date of this Local Law. The Town Board may by resolution extend this provision by 1 additional year.” 

Pine Bush Senior Living, a Planned Unit Development, is to include 96 independent-living units in one building, to open first, as well as assisted-living and memory-care units. Cassidy told The Enterprise earlier that this allows the company to provide “the full aging-in-place continuum”; 

— Stewart’s Shop, Corner of Gipp Road and Western Avenue: 

Inferno Pizzeria, currently located at 1810 Western Ave., is planning to move a few doors east and across Western Avenue to the Stewart’s Shop, which closed three years ago at the corner of Western Avenue and Gipp Road.  

Inferno owner Nicholas Riggione received a building permit and seems to be working on the building, said Chief Building and Zoning Inspector Jacqueline M. Coons this week. 

Riggione told The Enterprise this week that he hopes to open “probably within the next month.” 

Riggione told The Enterprise earlier that he was happy to be able to repurpose the old Stewart’s building, saying, “It’s a great corner.” 

Stewart’s closed the shop in March 2016, citing a lack of sufficient parking. A store had existed on the site since about 1950, and it had been a Stewart’s Shop since the 1960s. 

It has been empty since Stewart’s left;

— Stewart’s on New Karner Road at Corporate Circle Drive: 

Stewart’s plans to open a shop at this location that straddles the line between the city of Albany and town of Guilderland. 

Tyler Fronte of Stewart’s Shops told The Enterprise this week that the project has been approved and that Stewart’s plans to begin construction this fall. 

Stewart’s has not closed on the property yet, Fronte said, but expects the closing to take place in September. 

The address of the property is not yet decided, since it straddles the city and town, Fronte said, adding that the address should be clarified soon. 

In addition to the convenience store with gas pumps, Fronte told The Enterprise earlier, there will also be a one-bay car wash; a piece of land just behind the convenience store will likely be leased to a tenant, possibly a bank or as office or retail space, he said at the time; 

— Chico’s BBQ, 2490 Western Ave.:

The owners have been paying the taxes each year since the restaurant closed about a decade ago, said town Assessor Karen Van Wagenen. 

The 1.91-acre property was assessed last year at $259,600, and the assessment rose this year to $375,800 Van Wagenen said. The owners did not file a grievance over the new assessment, she said. 

Coons said that the owners have been maintaining the property on their own, without any prompting from the town, and that there have been no problems of any kind. 

The county tax rolls list the owner as BJG Realty Corp. of Albany, LLC. 

Records with the state’s Department of State list the chief executive officer of the limited-liability corporation as F. Robert Sheehan. Attempts to reach him to ask about plans for the property were unsuccessful. 

The Chico’s parcel is not for sale; 

— Westlawn Lanes at 1975 Western Ave.:

This 1.5-acre property is for sale with Cushman & Wakefield, listed at $1.175 million. According to the listing, the building is a “great opportunity … for retail or office conversion.” The building is 14,744 square feet and has 14-foot ceilings; the property has 170 feet of frontage on Western Avenue and 395 feet on Alvina Blvd., according to the listing

Coons said this week that the town has had inquiries about possible uses of the building, which was a bowling alley for decades, but that it has not had any applications for development. 

Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik said the property is dual-zoned. The front two-thirds of the parcel is zoned for local business and the remaining one-third in back is zoned R15, which refers to single-family residential lots with a minimum of 10,000 square feet. “Any redevelopment of the site would have to comply with the current zoning code,” Kovalchik said.

Owner Lucy Penna did not return phone messages;

— The Rite Aid building at 2025 Western Ave.: 

Spirit Halloween plans to move into this space temporarily through the Halloween season, Coons said. 

Building inspectors conducted an inspection last week; Coons did not know the result of the inspection. 

Spirit will lease the building from Schuyler Companies, Coons said. 

Previously, Rite Aid had also leased the building from Schuyler Companies. The approximately 11,000-square-foot building has been empty since this Rite Aid was one of those bought out by Walgreens about a year ago; and

— Bridge over the Thruway on East Old State Road:

According to Todd Gold, director of government relations for the New York State Thruway Authority, this bridge will close down in the spring of 2020, with completion of the project anticipated by the end of the year. 

The plan is to replace and expand the bridge over the Thruway, which dates from 1955 and is not built to current code, Gold told The Enterprise earlier

A higher vertical clearance will make the bridge safer for truckers, Gold said at the time. 

The new bridge will also have wider travel lanes, and six-foot-wide shoulders to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, Gold said earlier;

— Gas station at 1611 Western Ave.:

This property is in withdrawn status with Albany County, because of environmental concerns, according to Michael McLaughlin, the county’s director of policy and research. 

Back taxes on the property have been accruing for years and now stand at about $170,000, McLaughlin said. The liens name Mustafa Ozbay and Nuri Ozbay of 1941 Guilderland Ave., Schenectady as owners. Mustafa Ozbay was sentenced in 2007 to 87 months in federal prison and a forfeiture judgment of about $6.8 million, after pleading guilty, during a trial, to a number of federal tax violations.

In the 2019 townwide revaluation, the property’s assessment rose from $185,400 last year to $208,000 this year, according to Van Wagenen. 

Coons told The Enterprise earlier that Pyramid Management, which owns Crossgates Mall, owns all of the empty land surrounding the gas-station parcel; and

— Rustic Barn at 4852 Western Turnpike: 

The Rustic Barn on the western outskirts of town is nearly buried in vines and strewn with leaking cans of chemicals. Owner Herbert Young, who sold woodstoves and also gardening products including pesticides on the property, died in 2013 and had no children; back taxes on the property have been accruing since 2011 and now stand at just over $47,000. 

The Rustic Barn property’s assessed value almost tripled in the 2019 townwide revaluation, rising from $92,800 to $264,700. 

The county has launched a program of holding sealed-bid auctions online to try to sell environmentally problematic properties, and the Rustic Barn is one of the first ones on offer. The bidding process closes on Sept. 6. Prospective buyers would need to provide their “highest and best offer,” McLaughlin told The Enterprise earlier, as well as information about their preparedness to bring the property back into productive use. 

Ryan Caruso, who lives next door to the Rustic Barn, may want to bid, he said. Earlier this week, he said he and his wife were “trying to figure out if we can afford it.”

More Guilderland News

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