First Columbia LLC, Development division of First Columbia Property Services is looking to demolish five buildings in downtown Albany, New York — including a former gas station at 697 Broadway — before it can move forward with a large, mixed-use development.
In 2013, First Columbia purchased a property consisting of five buildings with hopes to create a mixed use project to enhance the northern end of downtown Albany, New York. Site is considered a prime spot to build retail, residential and/or commercial office space. The property is near historic Quackenbush Square and the Clinton Avenue exit ramp of Interstate 787.
First Columbia has reached out to the city of Albany in hope to be granted approvals for the demolishing of five buildings. The demolitions are necessary to determine the full extent of the underground contamination on the site, and to devise a cleanup plan, said Kevin Bette, president of First Columbia. The property has been sitting vacant for years with not much activity on site. First Columbia bought the property for $1.2 million. This is the firm's first investment in downtown Albany. First Columbia has a large portfolio, including commercial office buildings in Latham and downtown Troy. It's also pursuing a new hotel on Wolf Road in Colonie.
"If you look at the national trends you see a lot of urban redevelopment," Bette said. "To me, if you have great access, parking and quality architecture, you'll attract the next generation of business. Just like we see in Troy a lot of tech companies want to be in that kind of environment. We think the same thing is going to happen in Albany."
First Columbia last year was awarded a $1.2 million state economic development grant to redevelop the Broadway site. Similar to other urban properties, it must first deal with the legacy of previous activities there. One of the buildings was a pesticides plant in the 1950s, Bette said.
First Columbia is seeking permission from the city to demolish five buildings: 697 Broadway; 38, 42 and 44 Spencer St.; and 80 Montgomery St. They are one- and two-stories high.
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