Workers turning old Schenectady factory into home
YMCA planning to move program in by April
SCHENECTADY Renovations to the future home of the Schenectady YMCA’s housing program have progressed to the point where Executive Director Lou Magliocca is scanning catalogs and the Internet for furniture and fixtures.
“I didn’t know there were so many different toilet paper holders,” he said with a laugh.
Construction at 845 Broadway is moving along without a hitch, according to site superintendent Mark McCumber of Bonacio Construction. There were about 60 workers on site Tuesday, framing rooms and working on the heating, plumbing and electrical systems at the soon-to-be 155-bed facility.
It’s going to be awhile before they’ll hang toilet paper holders in the bathrooms, though. The building’s opening is planned for April 1, 2014 — two months later than initially anticipated, due to financing delays and abatement work that needed to be finished before the project’s developer, the Galesi Group of Rotterdam, would take ownership of the vacant building.
Built in 1915, the 96,000-square-foot space originally housed the Mica Insulator Co. When the Galesi Group took possession of the building, it was a mess.
“There had to be pigeon droppings everywhere, broken pipes hanging down,” Magliocca said.
Equipment left by a previous tenant had to be removed, along with a vintage boiler McCumber said probably weighed 10 tons.
Now, the four-story building is stark and clean. The roof is sound, and the concrete floors are being leveled. On the fourth floor, light-gauge framing is being installed, and the shapes of efficiency apartments are slowly coming to light.
Accommodations will be much more spacious than those at the YMCA housing facility at 13 State St., where residents share bathrooms and live in 90-square-foot bedrooms barely big enough to hold a twin bed, dresser and desk. The efficiency apartments in the new location will vary between 380 and 420 square feet and will include a kitchenette and a private bathroom.
The renovated building also will feature a commercial kitchen, a communal gathering area, common areas on each floor and a state-of-the-art room for storing residents’ medications.
The building will be air conditioned and handicap accessible — two things the State Street location lacks. It won’t have a gym like the State Street facility, but there will be workout equipment on site.
“The most important thing for me is the dignifying process for the guys,” Magliocca said. “They can actually have a room now that they can be proud of, maintain, and you’ll see their self-esteem grow.”
There are 171 men living in the State Street facility — 16 more than the new building will hold. YMCA staff is working to place some residents in alternate housing before the move to the new building, so no one will wind up homeless, Magliocca said.
Tenants must be county residents who have a disability, which could include issues with alcohol or drugs. They must also be connected with clinical services within the county. No violent felons or sex offenders are allowed to stay.
The program is staffed by 28 full-time workers and between eight and 10 part-timers whose jobs include running the front desk, working security and serving as case managers. All of the staff from the State Street building will move to the new location, according to Magliocca.
The Broadway building is a bit off the beaten track, but the YMCA has three vans that provide residents with transportation. A CDTA bus stop is also located right outside the building, and the Schenectady County Department of Social Services building is next door.
The renovation project was made possible by more than $11 million in tax credits approved by New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the state’s housing agency. The project also has incorporated other funding sources, including federal and state historic tax credits. The Broadway building is on the federal Register of Historic Buildings, which made it eligible for the credits.