CARS HOMES JOBS

3 Ms to the rescue on Mohawk Ave.

Sunday, March 24, 2013
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The vacant lot in Scotia that was once home to a McDonald’s has been a tough sell for economic development officials since the restaurant closed several years ago, but the plan hatched by Metroplex Development Authority and area food service entrepreneur Angelo Mazzone, with the cooperation of McDonald’s, appears to solve the problem in a very positive way.

There are some risks in Metroplex’s decision to buy and clean up the property, which was classified as a brownfield as a result of a gas spill by a car dealership located there decades ago. Mazzone will reimburse Metroplex for up to $250,000 of the cleanup costs. Metroplex officials, who say they have conducted several test borings at the site and consulted with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, estimate the cleanup will cost just $160,000 to $170,000. But if they’re wrong, they (and taxpayers) could be on the hook for a lot more money.

Time is another possible wrinkle: If the cleanup takes a lot longer than scheduled — it’s supposed to be finished sometime later this year, but with DEC’s consent needed, who knows? — Mazzone might get tired of waiting. But it’s not as if the property is currently in use, or has had any other offers in the eight years since McDonald’s closed. So the gamble is probably worth it.

Mazzone’s plan for the property certainly seems sound. He’d put up four storefronts along Mohawk Avenue, one of which would house a retail sit-down bakery operation. Behind the retail would be an industrial bakery, servicing his restaurant/food service empire. Above it would be offices, apartments or more hotel space. And behind the big bakery, facing Glen Avenue, would be parking, some of which would be used as overflow for events at his Glen Sanders Mansion. Pending the beginning of construction (which can’t start until the cleanup is finished), Mazzone says he’ll dress up the parcel with landscaping, a fountain, etc. That’s also a plus.

One concern is his plan to use the lot for overflow parking: It’s OK as long it’s done only after the improvements have been made. The 1.1-acre space mustn’t become a long-term parking lot. There’s no indication this will happen, and it would certainly be out of character for the highly successful Mazzone to renege on his commitment to Metroplex and village officials to beautify the space, which has long been an eyesore. But Metroplex has been strung along by more than one businessman’s empty promises over the years.

There seems a good chance, given Mazzone’s history, that the plan will be carried out. Good work by him and Metroplex, with an assist by McDonald’s (which waived a customary anti-competitive deed restriction to permit a retail bakery operation) for persevering.

 
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