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TVCOG's parking garage space last Friday.

The Quackenbush Building this week.

The Quackenbush Building a year ago.

The new maker space on street level.

That stair well in the foreground leads down to the basement, which includes more maker space and some light manufacturing space for startups.

How the street level space looked a year ago.


The big windows had to be custom made.

This space is set to become a community meeting room.

The area under the mezzanine is slated for the THINQubator, a kids maker space.

The new wood working space in the basement. It might not come through in the photo, but the light in the basement spaces is really good -- bright, not harsh. TVCOG got help from the Lighting Research Center at RPI on the lighting design in the building.

The light manufacturing space in the basement.

One of the benefits of gut-remodeling the building was the ability to add in all sorts of behind-the-scenes infrastructure. One example: This set of conduit that runs from floor to floor, allowing new cable to be easily run through different parts of the building.

Some of the office space on the fourth floor.

View from the fourth floor.

TVCOG Quackenbush renovation 15

A look inside the Tech Valley Center of Gravity new space in the Quackenbush Building

TVCOG Quackenbush renovation street level

The Tech Valley Center of Gravity is set to cut the ribbon on its new space in the historic Quackenbush Building in downtown Troy today.

The move provides not just some much-needed elbow room for the maker space, but also an opportunity to fill out a larger plan that combines the community workshop with services and space for startups. And, along the way, a beautiful historic building is getting a new life.

Here are a handful of photos from the renovated space and a few other bits...


They're above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

Quick background

TVCOG original space
TVCOG's original space, two years ago.

The Tech Valley Center of Gravity opened a little more than two years ago in a space tucked into the ground floor of parking garage in Troy.

The non-profit effort had two short term goals. The first was to provide a maker space for the area, a shared workshop where members could access a variety of tools such as woodworking equipment and 3-D printers. The second was for this space to serve as a sort of cultural hub to connect all sorts of nerds, geeks, and people who make stuff.

TVCOG now has about 330 members, according to Bob Bownes, one of the TVCOG's co-founders. Members pay a range of fees based on whether they're individuals, students, or organizations.

A longer term goal of the space was to grow into a platform for startups to germinate and take root. And that's already happened. The most notable example is probably Vital Vio, a company founded by two RPI grads that makes LED light fixtures the company says can provide disinfection to rooms using a very specific wavelength of visible light. It's been working out of the TVCOG parking garage space, and it's planning to make use of space at the Quackenbush Building.

The new building

TVCOG Quackenbush Building

The Quackenbush Building is at Broadway and Third Street in downtown Troy. It first opened in 1856 as a department store, and had a long run under multiple operators. Its upper floors haven't been occupied since the 1970s. A drug store pulled out of the ground floor in 2001. It's controlled by developer David Bryce, who had donated space for TVCOG's original parking garage home. The renovation effort on the 52,000-square-feet building officially started a little more than a year ago.

The new version of the Quackenbush includes maker space on both the street level and in the basement. Also underground: light manufacturing space for startups (Vital Vio is slated to use some of the space for assembling its fixtures). The upper floors are slated for office space. Part of that space is set aside for SPECTRVM, a collection of shared business services -- such as accounting, HR, PR, and legal -- to be made available incrementally to startups and small businesses as needed. Other space will house co-working and offices for companies and the Rensselaer County IDA.

The renovation project has cost approximately $3.7 million, the funding of which has come via range of sources, including the state's Regional Economic Development Council grant program.

What's next

TVCOG Quackenbush wood working shop

There's still significant renovation work left to go on the Quackenbush Building. Bownes says the new maker space area should be all together within the next two weeks, and the upstairs office space ready in October.

The next big challenge is keeping the whole project moving forward. Laban Coblentz, a TVCOG co-founder who has played a key role in coordinating with various organizations and lining up funding, is moving to France for a job at an international science project. While he's been a visible leader of TVCOG, a whole team of people -- including Bownes and Tom Tongue, who both have significant business and tech experience -- are working on the project.

Bownes says the Center of Gravity is close to the break-even point for memberships, and much of the office space in the building is already rented. The org is also moving toward to hiring a full-time executive director who can help continue to land grants and other support.

To this point everyone working on TVCOG been a volunteer.

"We're doing it because we believe in it," Bownes said to us, adding that he sees this as a way to give back after experiencing success with a few different startups. "It's not going to turn Troy into San Jose overnight, but it's helping."


A gutsy project - Good luck to them!

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The City should take a more proactive approach based on neighborhood consensus. A prescriptive design guideline with great clarity could save lots of graves for aspiring developers and other stakeholders. The City has to be clear upfront on conditions to be met such as overall allowed building volume, easy river connection, parking, pedestrian oriented ground floor usage and etc. It not seems reasonable to expect commercial developers to build something on their own initiative to both maximize ROI and please all city residents.

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