CARS HOMES JOBS

Supermarket sought for old Alco site

Neighborhood seen as a ‘food desert’

Friday, October 4, 2013
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— A supermarket might go up at the site of the old American Locomotive Company, which is square in the middle of a neighborhood that has long wanted a nearby grocery store.

“That area of the city is a food desert, so we thought that was needed,” said David Buicko, chief operating officer of Galesi Group, the Rotterdam developer that’s overseeing redevelopment of the 60-acre site situated along the Mohawk River between the East Front Street neighborhood and Freeman’s Bridge Road.

No grocery store has been lined up yet for the site, said Buicko, who said he only announces tenants once a contract has been signed.

In a progress report released last week by the Capital Region Economic Development Council, a project description of the site included mention of a 30,000-square-foot supermarket. The former Alco site has undergone extensive remediation work to prepare for a hotel, marina, apartment complex, retail space and maybe even a movie studio. Last week, California firm Pacifica Ventures told The Daily Gazette it hoped to build a $68.9 million television and film studio on the site and is applying for state funds to do so.

Buicko said the 30,000-square-foot figure is simply a placeholder, and that if a larger grocery store wanted to locate there, he would be interested.

“If somebody wanted to put an 80,000-square-foot store there, we wouldn’t say no,” he said Wednesday.

Price Chopper headquarters are right up the road on Nott Street. Golub Corporation spokeswoman Mona Golub said that while they are considering a number of new sites across the Capital Region, the company doesn’t comment on plans until they are firm.

Currently, the closest grocery options for residents in that neighborhood are a Price Chopper about three miles away on Eastern Parkway, stores over the bridge in Glenville, or the Stewart’s Shop and Cumberland Farms on Erie Boulevard.

“I’ve been crusading for years,” said Liz Volpicelli, a lifelong resident of the city’s East Front Street neighborhood. “I worked at City Hall under Al Jurczynski as a receptionist, and I felt that maybe I could influence somebody over there to put a market down here after the old Trading Port closed.”

She would ask anyone who would listen. “Put a market down there,” she’d say, before listing the neighborhoods that would benefit: the East Front Street neighborhood, the Stockade, Union College students, the downtown fringe, she continued.

“I got tired of asking because here’s what I was told: ‘There’s no place to put it,’ ” she recalled.

That changed a few years ago, though, when Galesi Group demolished the old buildings and shops on the former Alco site to make way for redevelopment.

Carmella Ruscitto doesn’t own a car and takes a bus to get to Price Chopper on Eastern Parkway and a cab to get back to her home in the East Front Street neighborhood. She serves as president of the neighborhood association, and said many of her neighbors also don’t own cars and would like to see a grocery store nearby.

“The closest thing we had to a market was Arthur’s and now that’s gone,” she said. “Years ago when I was a kid, we had a clothing store down here, we had a restaurant down here, we had the market down here, we had an Ames department store down here. Now we have nothing.”

 
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