Pyramid applies to build Costco in the ghost neighborhood of vacant homes it owns 

— Diagram on file at Guilderland Town Hall
Costco would be built on Site 2 in this diagram. It would be built around two existing homes, which are shown as white rectangles within Site 2. There is nothing planned at this time for Site 3, said Chief Building and Zoning Inspector Jacqueline M. Coons. 

GUILDERLAND — Costco wants to open in Guilderland. Vacant houses would be torn down to make way for it.

The project would include taking out several roads and much of the ghost neighborhood of vacant homes that Crossgates Mall bought over the last 20 years. The roads that would be taken out are Lawton Terrace, Rielton Court, and Tiernan Court, and nearly all the houses along those roads.

The property also includes a wooded area nearer Crossgates Mall Road. It covers a total of 26 different tax parcels, which according to an engineering report attached to the application include 13 unoccupied buildings.

The project would fall within the Transit Oriented Development zone around Crossgates Mall, owned by Pyramid. Pyramid has applied to build a retail center that would be 158,000 square feet on 16.5 acres and would operate as a Costco big-box warehouse club with six fuel islands.

Costco would be built across Crossgates Mall Road from Capital City Diner. The property extends between its two planned entrances, on Crossgates Mall Road and on Gabriel Terrace.

Costco is, according to the application, a membership-based retailer that, as of March 2019, had 770 locations worldwide. This location would be the first in the Capital Region. 

The closest Costco is in West Springfield, Massachusetts, about 70 miles to the east; the closest in New York State is in Nanuet, about 100 miles to the south, the application says. 

The applicant for the special-use permit is not Costco, but Crossgates Releaseco LLC, applying to build the property, which would be operated as a Costco.

Pyramid executive James Soos wrote to Guilderland’s chief building and zoning inspector Jacqueline M. Coons, in a letter accompanying the site-plan application, that many of the documents to be included with the application are, or will be, incorporated into the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that Pyramid is currently being required by the town to complete for the entire area around the mall that it owns. 

 

Enterprise file photo — Elizabeth Floyd Mair
This vacant home with boarded-up garage is at 2 Rielton Court.

 

In July, the town’s planning board required Pyramid to begin the process of submitting an environmental impact statement for all of its potential development in the area around Crossgates Mall. 

A draft scoping document for the EIS states that, in addition to the construction of 222 apartments and townhouses that Pyramid has already proposed for the TOD zone, an additional 90 apartment units will also be analyzed. 

Both “retail, general” and “automobile service station” are permitted in the TOD zone, Pyramid writes in its special-use permit application; Coons told The Enterprise that the application includes fuel pumps but no automotive repair. 

The application proposes an extension and partial realignment of Gabriel Terrace, to connect it with Crossgates Mall Road at a new four-way intersection to be created at an existing mall driveway near Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

It is anticipated, the application says, that approximately half of sales for the new Costco would be net-new to Albany County and would not be realized without this project. The application also says that the project is expected to generate “significant real property taxes to the Town, County and School District.” Costco is “likely to have a positive impact on commercial property values,” the application says, “as it will attract additional consumers to the area.” 

The project would require the design of a new stormwater management system, according to an engineering report by Maser Consulting. 

Pyramid recently built a hotel on Route 20, east of the proposed Costco project.

The town created the Transit-Oriented Development District in 2018 as a way of concentrating retail and residential development in the area around the mall; directing traffic away from Western Avenue and onto the Ring Road and from there, to the highways; and encouraging the use of public transportation and pedestrian and bicycle traffic. 

A grassroots group, the Coalition for Responsible Growth, emerged in the last couple of years based on Guilderland residents’ concerns about traffic and the environment. 

In the November elections, an incumbent councilman was ousted by a candidate, Laurel Bohl, who had been the head of that grassroots coalition and who ran on a platform of considered development. 

The last time a grassroots group formed in Guilderland — Friends Organized to Reject Crossgates Expansion, known as FORCE — was in 1998 to protest the proposed doubling in size of Crossgates Mall, an effort that was thought, at the time, to have succeeded.

Next steps, according to Coons, are for the Costco project to go to the Albany County Planning Board, which it will do in December. Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik will then need to schedule the project to go before Guilderland’s planning board, for a recommendation to the zoning board. It would then go to the zoning board, no earlier than Jan. 15, for a public hearing. 

Senior Planner Laura Travison of the Albany County Planning Board said she has not yet received any materials and that the application will probably not be considered “until December or January.” 

Pyramid’s Soos could not be reached for comment. 

 

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