Convention center money sought, home foreclosures up, Colonie Center movie theater nears completion, horses back at Saratoga

The Albany Convention Center Authority is looking for the state to help pay another $190 million in expenses for the project. The price tag for the convetion center has almost doubled from its original projection. [TU]

The number of Capital Region home foreclosures continued a year-long upward swing. [TU]

Uri Kaufman, the guy who turned Cohoes' Harmony Mills into luxury apartments, has proposed doing the same for a former knitting factory in Amsterdam. Kaufman is also currently involved with a plan to convert the old Victory Mill in Saratoga into lofts. [Daily Gazette]

Public filings indicate that Feldman Mall Properties, which owns a piece of Colonie Center, has spent $110 million renovating the mall. The project was originally slated to cost about half that, but the cost of building a movie theater on the mall's roof has ended up being much expensive than originally projected. And what about that much delayed theater? The planned opening date is now May 16. [Business Review]

The parent company of The Saratogian and The Troy Record is being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange today. Journal Register Company is straining under the weight of debt and some analysts are projecting the company is headed for default. [AP/TU]

About a third of shoppers at Railroad Avenue Price Chopper in Saratoga Springs walk there, according to a company survey. So, what? There have been rumors the Chopper at that location might close, which has prompted concern the city would no longer have a supermarket to which people could walk. [Saratogian]

Training season has opened at Saratoga. [Daily Gazette]

Comments

Here is the opinion of a younger Saratoga Springs resident who (medically) can't drive. I know the downtown Price Chopper isn't the most beautiful, but even Saratoga's Victorian-era William Morris fans know that the Arts and Crafts guru advised us to keep those things you "know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

In this case, as opposed to a 20-minute walk to the Railroad Avenue Price Chopper, our other Price Chopper on Route 50 can mean a 2-hour trip. So useful would trump beautiful every time -- and there may be a way to achieve both (the full explanation follows.)

Among the reasons I cite to friends and family for living in Saratoga is that as a person with a neurological disorder who cannot drive, in Saratoga I can get to everything I need -- groceries, pharmacy and all other essentials and conveniences -- on foot. And that the worst thing that might happen to me (a single female with no local family) carrying a bag of groceries home at night from our sole downtown full-service grocery store, the Railroad Avenue Price Chopper, would be a neighbor pulling up and asking me if I needed a ride home!

Most people who still drive would say "well, take the bus" to our other Price Chopper, which is not within walking distance from where I live.

Have you ever been in the middle of cooking dinner and realized your dinner recipe called for more of an essential ingredient than you thought you had? You hop in the car, grab the needed item and head home to finish making dinner -- likely within 15 minutes.

For me, if there was no Railroad Avenue Price Chopper and I needed to do the same by bus, that missing ingredient might take me more than two hours to get.

Let's say I discover the shopping error while preparing dinner at 6:25 p.m. Normally I would walk into town (berating myself all the way for my error), purchase my missing ingredient at the Railroad Avenue Price Chopper, and if I really moved along, be home with the item and ready to continue cooking by 7:15 p.m. or so.

If there was no downtown Price Chopper, discovering the same essential missing ingredient at 6:25, I would have to walk almost half way to Railroad Avenue just to catch my nearest CDTA bus to Price Chopper’s Ballston Avenue store. That bus runs hourly where I am, so the next one wouldn't come until 7:20 p.m. -- five minutes AFTER I would have been home from my walk to AND from the Railroad Avenue store.

Once I had picked up that missing item at the Ballston Avenue Price Chopper, I would have to walk out of the plaza (the bus I need does not stop IN the plaza) up the street and across Route 50 -- a busy road at any time of day -- in the dark, then wait, depending on the season, in the rain or on the snow bank (there is no enclosed bus stop or even a bench across from the Ballston Avenue store) for the next bus, which should come at about 8:30 p.m.

By the time I walked back home from my nearest bus stop and was ready to resume cooking, it would be around 9 p.m. -- two and a half hours for what most people think of as a 15-minute trip. That's what "Well, take the bus!" would really mean to a Saratogian in my position if our Railroad Avenue Price Chopper closes.

That 2+-hour trip could just as easily be for cold medicine for a sick child or adult diapers for an elderly relative -- not things you can ignore until the next day or expect neighbors to have on hand. Or try carrying a couple of two-litre bottles of soda and a gallon of milk or orange juice an extra half-mile or so and the difference in mileage will become VERY quickly apparent!

I know Golub Corporation does a great deal of positive work for people with handicapping conditions through its charitable contributions. Closing the Railroad Avenue Price Chopper would have an equally negative impact -- on a daily basis -- for a larger segment of the Saratoga population (handicapped, elderly, lower income and otherwise) than is immediately apparent.

Golub Corp/Price Chopper is also a major advertiser in all of out local media, making negative coverage of the firm and this matter less likely. As much as editorial teams would say otherwise, money does talk.

If it is essential for Golub to sell the land for Saratoga's "new" urbanization, instead of penalizing the local handicapped, elderly and mostly voiceless non-driving community, why couldn’t the developers be mandated to do what they do in real urban areas and put a new, full-sized grocery store on the ground level of whatever is developed?

Saratoga Springs already has national retailers in ground-floor locations with mixed-use buildings above them in our new Broadway buildings. By mandating a full-service grocery store be included on the ground floor of whatever development is planned for the Railroad Avenue site, the entire community's interests and the new developers can be served at the same time.

Those who consider the current Railroad Avenue Price Chopper an “eyesore” would have a fresh, clean grocery if the city mandated its inclusion. And those of us who can’t drive and have to pick our supermarkets by proximity and price as opposed to appearance would benefit as well. In this instance, why can’t the “greater good” be served by both the local government and the regional merchants like Price Chopper we support?

(And conversely, if Price Chopper isn't interested, why not mandate the space and open it to a store like Shop N Save -- a smaller, independent branch of Hannaford that runs stores of similar size to our current Railroad Avenue store in the Greater Capital District, or to other similar grocery chains.)

A city the size of Saratoga CANNOT claim to be a viable full-service community without essential services available to its residents. Without a grocery store -- the most basic of services -- in the immediate downtown area, Saratoga Springs simply will no longer be the viable community it aspires to be!

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