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Renderings and plans

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Here's an even larger version of the site plan if you'd like to see more of the details.

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The new plan for a big mixed-use development near Quackenbush Square in Albany

705 Broadway Albany aerial rendering

A rendering of how the buildings could look within context.

There's a new proposal for a big mixed-use development in downtown Albany just north of Quackenbush Square. The "Quackenbush Center" would include residential, retail, live-work space, and a hotel, potentially.

Here's an overview of what's being proposed...

The site and who's involved

705 Broadway Albany site 2016-December-31

The 1.7-acre site -- 705 Broadway -- is bounded by Broadway, Spencer, and Montgomery. It's just north of Quackenbush Square -- which, as you know, includes the Albany Pump Station, the Olde English, Albany Distilling Co., and the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center.

The developers backing this proposal are the Pioneer Companies, from the Syracuse area, and First Columbia, which is based here in the Capital Region.

This isn't the first such attempt at the site. Back in the mid-2000s a different group of Syracuse-based developers had proposed a similar project -- "The Amos at Quackenbush Square" -- but it fizzled and by 2012 it faced foreclosure. First Columbia bought the site in 2013.

You might also remember there had been a collection of old buildings on the site. They caught fire in September 2015 and were demolished.

Early renderings and plans

There are a handful of initial renderings and plans at the top in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

What's proposed

705 Broadway Quackenbush Center site plan

+ Three large buildings, one each that would sit along Broadway, Spencer, and Montgomery.

+ The Broadway and Spencer buildings would be 10-stories tall and collectively include approximately 180 residential units along with retail space on the street level.

+ The Spencer building would include two-floor live/work spaces along it's (slightly elevated) street level -- the first floor of these units would include office or retail-type space, and the second floor would be residential.

+ The third building, along Montgomery, is slated to be a hotel of some type. The current plan is for it to include approximately 120 rooms, though that could change based on the hotel brand/operator.

+ The middle of the development would be a large plaza that would connect with Quackenbush Square.

+ There'd be a level of parking of underneath the development with roughly 180 spaces, slated to be set aside for the residences.

+ John O'Brien, chief development officer of the Pioneer Companies, said after an Albany Planning Board workshop Monday evening that they've been talking with the Albany Parking Authority about potentially creating a Montgomery Street entrance to the Quackenbush Garage to provide more access to parking. "There's a lot of parking down there, but some of it is not that accessible. This would create a really nice covered parking situation for us as well as our neighbors."

+ O'Brien said a total cost for the project is still being determined.

The project will be up before the Albany Planning Board at its January 19 meeting.

Why here and why now?

The site is just to the north of what you might consider downtown Albany proper, in that of land that sits between downtown Albany, the Warehouse District, and the foot of Arbor Hill. John O'Brien said the location was a big draw.

"The Warehouse District is really catching on, which is something that we see as a big plus to us. But [this location] is close in to the downtown area and very walkable," he said Monday. "People can live in this environment and not jump in a car -- they can walk to work."

Another plus: The architecture and amenities of Quackenbush Square right next door. O'Brien said there's a sense of place and the potential, with the planned plaza, to create a neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood there.

Meshing with Quackenbush Square

Quackenbush Square Albany 2016-October

The buildings already at Quackenbush Square are historic -- the home of the Olde English is thought to be the city's second oldest building. And matching the new with the old can be a difficult architectural challenge.

You can see from the renderings above that the initial design is relatively modern. But John O'Brien said he thinks they can make it work.

"There are ways, with some of the materials we've looked at, to give it an industrial feel, but with new building materials," he said. "This Prodema [exterior] material that we've looked at -- which is a wood panel -- has been around Europe for a lot of years, but is relatively new to the United States. They're used as an accent panel in a lot of buildings, they're not used as a primary exterior skin. We really like the material. We think it will blend well with the historic nature of Quackenbush Square and really complement it -- distinguish itself -- but complement it."

The residential boom

There's a small, but consistent, boom in the creation of new residential units in downtown Albany over the last few years. And lately, the trend has started to include new construction as well. Just down the street from this site are two planned new-construction projects, one with 100 units and the other with 18. And farther north in the Warehouse District there are a couple of large conversion projects planned.

So we were curious about O'Brien's thoughts on the downtown residential market -- and whether it was getting ahead of itself.

"We've looked at the residential market in Syracuse -- I think Syracuse is a little bit ahead of Albany in downtown residential -- there's been a tremendous amount of apartments absorbed, almost instantaneously, in downtown Syracuse. Rochester is a little behind the curve there, but is catching on," he said. "We think in all the upstate cities that the residential component is a very viable opportunity for development."

Find It

Quackenbush Center (proposed)
705 Broadway
Albany, NY 12207

Comments

Ok I've reviewed everything.......now just do it!!!!!!how awesome would this be for Albany! Please expedidate!!!!

I would love to see this project happen, but certainly count me among the skeptics of whether this will actually get built. Seems to me they should have a better idea of how much this will cost and be farther along in the approval process by now considering they were awarded $1.2 million by the state over 3 years ago.

I'm pretty impressed the digital projection makes Central Warehouse look as terrible as it does in real life.

looks fine and will get more residents, restaurants & retail space in that area. let's get it built

Kman, those were my initial thoughts as well. However, this seems to be the most promising plan for this site since the recession stalled it years ago. Additionally, the site of the hotel was occupied by a building until it burned down last year. I would imagine it complicates the process not to consistently know what work there is to be done in the first place.

In any case, fingers crossed. This would be a great improvement!

Can't developers propose something other than market-rate residential units? Downtown Albany is going to quickly become oversaturated with apartments that look exactly the same (semi-open concepts, exposed brick and ducts, granite finishes, etc.) with all of the projects popping up along Broadway.
How about a grocery store or some other neighborhood amenity that will improve the quality of life downtown?

"How about a grocery store or some other neighborhood amenity that will improve the quality of life downtown?"

I've lost count of how many times I've posted this, but:

THERE. IS. A. GROCERY. STORE. DOWNTOWN.

JayK are you talking about Steuben? Because as much as I like Steuben for lunch and snacks, they are hardly a grocery store. You'd be hard pressed to find enough ingredients to make a single cohesive meal. It seems like they are stocking less and less as time goes on...

JayK: Do you mean Steuben Market? That is far from a supermarket. I realize you both said "grocery store." However, a supermarket, where one could do real shopping, not just pick up lunch or a couple of overpriced items, would be great.

Oh so now a grocery store won't do. Now it has to be a supermarket, even though few people shop on foot for weekly grocery trips. The thing about a supermarket is, no one will open one unless there are enough residents in the immediate area to make it profitable. If we stop building residences until a supermarket opens, we're doing all we can to ensure one never does.

I'm one of the North Albany Neighborhood Association leaders. Tho the area in question is just south of our neighborood, we'd like to understand this project in greater detail. I find no way to download this plan as a pdf file or a ppt. Our next neighborhood meeting on Jan 17th is a chance for us to exchange thoughts. And perhaps later we can invite one of the planners involved to be our meeting guest. For now, might you be willing to make available a file describing the project better than the website does. Thx. B.

So funny in 1920's the meeting was something akin to "hey we have a beautiful 10 story building.....should we knock it down? No let's lift it up and move it"....fast for to now "we really need to do an environmental impact neighborhood out reach historical commission joint based study to see if we should redevelop some long empty industrial wasteland in Albany in a manner appropriate and respectable for empty industrial wasteland..."

"The thing about a supermarket is, no one will open one unless there are enough residents in the immediate area to make it profitable. If we stop building residences until a supermarket opens, we're doing all we can to ensure one never does."


That is exactly right.

Has there been any news on this proposal? This is a project that seems perfect! As it is the nexus between downtown/Broadway and the Warehouse District. This would significantly change some of the walk-about scores for those areas of the city. I think a follow-up piece on this is due very soon!

Something is happening there. The paid parking lot has been closed and some work has begun on the street/sidewalk. Not sure if any of that is related to this project, though.

It had been up before the planning board a few months back, but I don't recall it advancing to a site plan approval vote yet. I'll check and see if I can find out where things are at.

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Seems like they've put together realistic plans, though I wonder whether the proximity to the ESP ramps would be a deterrent to finding a residential developer. I'd really like to see that Trailways Building kept. We have so few century buildings in Albany that I'd really we rather keep them when we can. And this building is not at all shy about advertising its era. E-Comm 6, however...well, I won't cry if it comes down.

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