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UAlbany Harriman ETEC GroundLevelView

UAlbany Harriman ETEC aerial rendering

A new complex for UAlbany, and a few thoughts about the future of the Harriman State Office Campus

UAlbany ETEC GroundLevelView

A rendering of the Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC).

UAlbany will be building a new complex on a chunk of the Harriman State Office Campus for the new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, the Cuomo admin formally announced today.

That's a rendering of the complex above. Here's a larger version, along with an aerial view of the complex's position on the Harriman campus.

The development -- called the "Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex" or ETEC -- will be on 12 acres in the southwest corner of the Harriman campus. (Yep, that's the portion right next UAlbany's uptown campus.) It'll house both the new college and New York State Mesonet, the statewide weather monitoring system that's currently being rolled out.

Press release blurbage:

The $184 million project will be financed through $92 million in previously appropriated State capital funds grants as well as $92 million in previously appropriated Campus-funds. It is anticipated that 1,600 construction jobs will be created by the project. When fully occupied, the complex will become an active hub of research, instruction and business development, with some 1,000 daily occupants including faculty, researchers, industry partners, and students. Site planning is underway and construction is expected to begin in 2017, with completion targeted for 2020.

About the Harriman campus and the city of Albany

The Harriman campus is ongoing issue not just for the state, but for the city of Albany -- because it's enormous, roughly 330 acres within the city limits. And it's tax exempt, a fact that Albany leaders routinely bring up when banging the drum for more state aid.

Every few years talk bubbles up about the state turning over some of the campus to private development -- taxable private development theoretically -- and then it fades. There's again word now that state will soon be issuing some sort of request for development proposals for the campus. It would seem the eastern end of the campus -- the part along Route 85 -- where the state has knocked down a couple of buildings in recent years would be the most likely candidate for this sort of development. [Biz Review] [Politico NY]

It'll be interesting to see if anything shakes out of the new push. In some ways the Harriman campus is like the Empire State Plaza -- big and closed off from the rest of the city. Sure, it doesn't have the fortress walls or imposing verticality of the ESP, but the Harriman campus layout -- and its two ring roads, specifically -- separate it from the rest of Albany.

There's understandable skepticism whenever officials talk about doing some sort of study or plan for a major project. Consultants get hired. Reports are written. And then, very often, not much happens. But the Harriman campus might be a case where something like that -- a formal planning process, public meetings, the whole thing -- could really help.

For a while there was talk of the state emptying out of the campus. But that's pretty clearly not happening -- it built a new lab building there a few years back, and it recently completed a major renovation of another building. And now there's this UAlbany complex going up on the southwest corner. And maybe there will be a dedicated busway making its way through at some point, too.

So, what's the overall plan? Is there an overall plan? Can the campus be better integrated with the surrounding city? Should it? Does the city of Albany -- both its leaders and residents -- get any say about what's to happen?

There's a big opportunity here because of all that land. It'd be unfortunate if, by adding a piece here and piece there without an overall vision, the state somehow ends up with a new Harriman campus that's less than the sum of its parts.

Comments

And even more unfortunate if, as has already happened at the nano college, these untaxed buildings serve as a tax haven for businesses that would otherwise be contributing to the City of Albany or a neighboring jurisdiction. Redevelopment of Harriman without consideration of what that means to the city is untenable. Nano lured away a longtime downtown firm . . . who's to say there won't be more? The state can't contribute to cannibalizing the city's revenues and then lay the blame for every problem at the city's doorstep, while championing that the state is holding the line on taxes.

It looks frighteningly oppressive. Why do we need such large buildings?

I have long thought that the Harriman Campus should be developed along New Urbanism lines. A mix of walkable Residences, Office and Retail Space, etc. A central Campus or Mall with Offices, Labs, Retail, at the core, surrounded by Quad Like Apartments. A sort of City Center as a mix of Mall, Business Park, and University Campus. A self contained City Within the City. Restaurants, Entertainment, Shopping, and other Retail would help make the area a Neighborhood versus the sort of Office Monoculture that is currently there.

So far the Campus seems to be developed piece meal rather than through a comprehensive design. Anyway, I am glad at least UAlbany is involved. An enterprise center is a good idea. I just wish a more comprehensive plan were made. A dedicated bus line from CDTA would be good also.

On the brighter side -- at least parking won't be a problem.

So unbelievably pathetic. Our taxes are going up to mafia like levels to balance a 12.5 million dollar gap and the Soviet block of industries peppers in a banal soulless "office park"......why is NY state so stupid?

Exactly Carl. Albany has a huge percentage of tax-free property, and we are supposed to be happy about adding more for outfits that would normally pay taxes?

Carl - one fine point: you assume that those businesses would otherwise be in a high tax city of A., not across the Mohawk - or even Florida. What actually can Albany offer to a business that they cannot find elsewhere (other than PILOT program)?

Folks: The city of Albany has the authority right now to tax the nano college. That's because they rent so much of their publically-owned property to for-profit businesses.That makes it eligible for property taxation on a pro-rata basis.

It is indeed a tax dodge as carl wrote.

But the mayor of Albany can stop that any time she wants. Direct her tax assessor to get his butt in there and tax it.

She has chosen not to do so and then cries poverty.

Nano is a great thing for the region but they need to pay their fair share for the services they consume.

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