Former resident of ghost neighborhood hopes the town does ‘the right thing’

— Photo by Stephen Cadalso
The Cadalsos' former home at 4 Rielton Court as it looks today. If the Cotsco proposal goes through, this house and others in the neighborhood will be torn down.

GUILDERLAND — Stephen Cadalso was one of the residents of the ghost neighborhood in front of Crossgates Mall; he sold his home to Pyramid in December 2015. He believes Pyramid’s current plan to build a Costco in his old neighborhood is “too intense” of a use.

Cadalso lived on Rielton Court longer than many of his neighbors. “It looks like holy hell here,” he told The Enterprise in 2011. “The plywood went up and the ‘Keep Out’ signs with no explanation. There’s no rhyme or reason. It looks like the Love Canal.”

Both Cadalso and his wife, Joanne, were raised in Guilderland. Joanne Caldaso said that, in her youth, she used to “hang out” in the neighborhood that will be torn down if a Costco is built there. She knew many of her friends’ houses intimately and said, eight years ago, that she was saddened that the neighborhood had lost its closeness.

“More than half the neighborhood is rented now,” said Mrs. Cadalso in 2011.

The Cadalsos bought their house, a meticulously cared for one-story ranch, in 1985 from friends. It was built in 1950 by Otto Gabriel, said Mr. Cadalso.

In 1998, when Pyramid planned build an eight-story hotel and a recreation facility at Crossgates, more than doubling the mall to about 3.6 million square feet, it bought up the residential properties at twice or even three times their assessed values.

Massive citizen protest of the expansion project led the town not to approve the required zoning changes.

At the time, the transactions were secret; the properties were purchased in the name of Warp Enterprises and Westville Associates, and residents who sold signed non-disclosure statements that one said stipulated, “We’re not even supposed to tell we have a contract.”

The $100 million plan proposed in 1998 showed the expanded mall staying within the bounds of its perimeter road. That raised the question of why more land was being purchased. “We’ve been buying property between Crossgates and Route 20 for the last 20 years,” said John Safe in 1998; he was the director of development for Pyramid at the time. “It’s good investment; it’s good buffer; it’s good real estate.”

Of the land in the strip between Route 20 and the mall, Safe said, “We’re making an English couplet,” describing the entrance and exit to the mall from Route 20. “It takes one neighborhood in its entirety.”

In 1998, most of the residents The Enterprise talked to said they had had no intention of selling before being approached by Realtors. “They came in with a ton of money to uproot us all,” said one.

The McKownville United Methodist Church on Route 20 was also approached in 1998, but the congregation turned down the offer that June. “The congregation felt there was no benefit to us or our ministry,” said Terrence O’Neill in 1998; he was the pastor at the time. He said that 35,000 cars a day went by the church, which still stands today, and it was a beacon of faith in the midst of commercialism.

Several residents in 1998 commented on how strange it was to live in a neighborhood — to have raised kids there and had longtime friendships there — that was now just “evaporating.”

Crossgates Mall had opened in 1983 with about 875,000 square feet. In 1994, it added 650,000 square feet, and, in 1997, an 18-screen cinema opened, increasing the number of screens to 30. 

In 2018, Pyramid opened a five-story, 200-unit hotel in front of the mall, facing Route 20. It has since proposed building a complex of 222 residential units to the west of the mall. Additionally, a draft scoping document for an environmental impact statement required by the town, says an additional 90 apartment units will also be analyzed.

The Caldalsos had planned to sell to Pyramid in 1998. Their next-door neighbor, an elderly woman, was a holdout; she wanted to live her last days in her Rielton Court home, they said.

The Cadalsos had agreed to sell their home to Pyramid for $325,000, Mr. Cadalso said in 2011, and had put down a deposit on a home to buy when Crossgates’ plans fell through. They lost their deposit and also had significant repair work to do, he said, as they had torn things out of their house, since they had a short time to move and it was to be demolished.

“These were real nice homes at one time,” said Mr. Cadalso as he wistfully surveyed the neighborhood in 2011. “Everybody kept their houses up nice.”

Today, Mr. Cadalso is happy with his new situation.

“We were in our home for 35 years so it was quite hard at first,” he wrote in an email, answering Enterprise questions this week. “Crossgates was very good about agreeing to most of our demands. We were allowed to remove anything we wanted as long as the front of the home was not touched. We also could stay there for up to a year rent and tax free.”

He also wrote, “We will always have fond memories of our old neighborhood and the friends we made through the years.”

Mr. Cadalso, a longtime Guilderland school bus driver, now retired, said, “It took awhile but we finally found a nice condominium in Westmere just a couple miles from our old house. We downsized some and are really happy here now. So in that respect everything worked out well.”

He went on, “We were never told what plans they had for all the land that they purchased; just one was to expand to ring road and improve the CDTA bus stops,” he said of the Capital District Transportation Authority.

“As for their proposal to build a Costco in that area, I feel it is too intense of a use for something of that size. The increase in traffic on Western Avenue will be overwhelming with people coming from what probably will be up to at least a 75-mile radius to shop there.”

He concluded, “I know it’s only a proposal. I just hope the town will weigh everything and in the end do the right thing.”

More Guilderland News

  • The May 17 petition filed by Cuyler Court residents William and Colleen Anders claims that, in July 2023, the town’s use of heavy equipment to access “stormwater or water management facilities” caused damage to their driveway and yard, which when combined with Guilderland’s “negligence and failure to maintain certain components” of those facilities, led to “significant flooding” of the Anders’ basement six months later. 

  • ALTAMONT — The proposed changes to Altamont’s current dog law were largely met with criticism dur

  • Guilderland is on the cusp of forming a District Facilities Committee to map out the district’s next capital project. It will dovetail with work currently underway by a Future Ready Task Force.

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