Cuomo admin has OK'ed Albany convention center

proposed Albany convention center Eagle and Howard 2013-11-25

A rendering for the Eagle Street side.


So, this is news: "A government official involved in the project's negotiations" tells the Biz Review's Adam Sichko that the Cuomo administration has approved the scaled-down version of the Albany convention center. That's a big deal because buy-in from the Cuomo admin would open the way for the release of about $70 million in money that's already allocated/promised/set aside for a convention center project.

The new scaled-down plan was introduced in November. It would site a 82,000-square-foot facility at Howard and Eagle in downtown Albany. The Albany Convention Center Authority has touted the new plan -- about a third the size of the of the originally proposed project -- as a "hub" between the Empire State Plaza and the Times Union Center, with all three connected by a covered walkway.

The ACCA said the $66.5 million project could be paid for with the already-allocated money. It estimated that it could be completed by July 2016.

The Cuomo administration confirmed the approval in a press release later on Tuesday. The release included a name for the facility -- "Albany Capital Center" -- and a start date for construction -- June 2014.

Oh, and there's important bit tucked into the administration's announcement:

Furthermore, the land accumulated by the Authority for the first proposed location would be conveyed to the Office of General Services (OGS) and would be made available for appropriate development through a Request for Proposal managed by OGS and Empire State Development (ESD), with the goals of expanding the local commercial tax base and the creation of jobs and opportunities

That land is the chunk on the south side of downtown Albany near the bus station. Earlier this year an idea was floated for the land to be used for an aquarium/science center/something or other. The fact that the state will directly controlling the land prompts a lot of questions -- including what state officials consider "appropriate development" for the site.

Earlier on AOA: Renderings, a footprint map, and more details about the new convention center proposal

image: ACCA/CHA


You've got to hand it to Columbia Development, this is a much better idea than the last.

This is great now the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo can have there yearly meeting here now...that should fill up about 8 hotel rooms that week! Please save the money and have the Albany politico and the developers purchase a plane trip to just about any small-medium sized city in Europe or even South America and discover what it takes to make a small city work and then do it here. Number 2,192,001 on the list is "convention center". Look NO FURTHER than the Empire State Plaza now and see the future.....another useless, empty hulking and depressing place to gather dust!

This is good news. The new convention center plan is much better than the previous plan and does the kind of thing that all new development in the city should do - complement what is already here. It is more appropriately sited and sized for the kinds of meetings that would take place in Albany- statewide conventions that go to Saratoga, Syracuse, and Lake Placid, because they have the space for it. Think of how many statewide organizations that are based in Albany that have annual meetings that are forced to go elsewhere. The planners also had the forethought (or the time to consider) to upgrade the existing resources (the walkway, the TImes Union Center) to attract more events, like NCAA tournaments.

That said, I'm a little horrified by the last line of the article: "That land will be transferred to the state, according to the same government official. The state will then issue an RFP, seeking commercial developers." I do not trust that the state will choose the best option for the city nor be as thoughtful about size and siting of the project. I'd also be concerned that we lost the potential for showcasing the one this that this city has that no one else does - its history. Mayor Elect Sheehan, take note.

I think this is great. Albany need to clean up and move forward.

I do like the new scaled down concept, which I feel more approprately leverages the existing convention and parking infrastructure already in place (e.g. Times Union Center and the Egg/EPS Convention Space) and fits in more comfortably with the landscape. I’m first to admit that I’ve always been real lukewarm on the convention center concept, but the scaled down version and my own independent research and personnel experience having to arrange large meetings, has warmed me up to the need in downtown Albany. As previously mentioned, the convention center in Saratoga and Lake Placid have been fairly busy and I’ve personnally had to arrange events in the suburbs that could not be arranged downtown due to space size and capability. This is business the city of Albany looses out on. With that said, even if the convention center is able to be fully booked for much of the calendar year, that doesn’t necessary mean it will generate the revenue needed to recoup the initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs. I can only hope it will and hope the market studies have thoroughly confirm that revenue will outpace expenses.

I am also a bit concerned about the fact that the state will be in control of the original parcel of land earmarked for the larger convention center concept. I have been very disappointed with Cuomo’s urban policies and distrust an outcome that is favorable to the city. I can see the state easily trying to improve their own fiscal or policy standing at the expense of the city, only to turn around to tell the city to “better manage you finances!!” despite robbing us of a significant piece of land to throw back onto the tax books to do just that.

Really and we need this for what?

Albany needs to clean up ?

What a waste of time, money, imagine all the dirty little lies that have been spoken in regards to trying to make this a reality.

All the vacant buildings and now your going to add this monstrosity ?

I wonder if the developers planned on Hurricane glass ?

How is this a good idea? Has everyone lost their mind? Can we look at this in the simplist of terms - What is the draw to use a convention center in Downtown Albany? Albeit a few places to eat, it virtually lacks everything else. Shops not much, entertainment non existent. This is just another prime example of Albany talking big and delivering little. Albany is just a "could-a". Could-a been something worthwhile, instead, opted for the easy way out.

And organizations will book a convention in Albany why?

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