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DCG continues to develop Saratoga County

Sunday, February 16, 2014
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DCG Development is erecting an Embassy Suites on Congress Street in Saratoga.
DCG Development is erecting an Embassy Suites on Congress Street in Saratoga.

— DCG Development Co., the company that redeveloped the Clifton Park Center mall and has major, ongoing projects in Clifton Park, Malta, and Saratoga Springs, has been able to continue to grow despite the 2008 recession and slow economic recovery since then.

Donald C. Greene started his company in the early 1970s when the town of Clifton Park was entering a residential and commercial growth phase that has continued for decades.

The company’s first project was the London Square Apartments on Route 146. Since then the privately held company has grown and diversified with multimillion-dollar retail, office, light-industrial and hotel projects and properties in Clifton Park, Malta, and Saratoga Springs.

“It was a real family affair,” Donald MacElroy, vice president of DCG Development, said about the early days of the company, when Greene’s son, daughters, and wife were involved. DCG Development Co. currently has about 25 employees. Founder Greene remains company president. MacElroy has been with the company for more than 30 years.

Greene, who grew up in Glenville, said he got his start in the real estate business when he purchased a burned-out car dealership in Ticonderoga after selling a trucking business he owned in the late 1960s.

This dealership became successful and the company then built London Square in Clifton Park.

“We have a great organization,” Greene said. He said a key to his company’s success during the Great Recession of 2008 and its aftermath was that “we don’t have a lot of heavily financed property.”

The company, with offices in Clifton Corporate Park, purchased what was then called the Clifton Country Mall on Route 146 near Northway Exit 9 in 2006. The older mall, which was then struggling to fill vacant spaces, has been renovated, redesigned, and expanded and renamed Clifton Park Center, and now has a better than 90 percent occupancy rate.

Clifton Park Center has a new facade and added a Hilton Gardens Inn and a state-of-the art Regal Cinemas over the past two years along with an Olive Garden restaurant, a Buffalo Wild Wings eatery, and other new tenants.

MacElroy said the renovations and expansion of the mall continues. The company is currently planning a 100-room, extended-stay hotel along the western side of the mall property.

Plans for the new hotel, whose brand has not yet been announced, are currently being reviewed by the Clifton Park Planning Board.

“We would like construction to start in the second quarter of 2014,” MacElroy said.

John Scavo Jr., director of planning for Clifton Park, said the town Planning Board has given the extended stay hotel project conceptual approval. The developer is currently working on the detailed engineering and infrastructure plans that have yet to be reviewed.

The location of the GlobalFoundries computer chip fabrication complex in Luther Forest Technology Campus in nearby Malta as well as the expanding University at Albany Nanotech campus in Albany provide a market for the new extended-stay hotel.

“We are smack in the middle of two economic development engines,” MacElroy said. “There is a greater demand for hospitality [hotel projects].”

People associated with GlobalFoundries or the Nanotech college sometimes are in the region for periods of three to six months. MacElroy said these visitors want the greater flexibility and space of an extended-stay suites hotel with a small kitchen, sitting room and workspace.

“There seems to have been a change in shopping habits,” MacElroy said about malls in general. He said the public wants “direct access” to stores and this has changed the way retail properties are being built or, in the case of the Clifton Park Center, being redesigned.

The redesign of older shopping malls is something that has been happening across the country in recent years.

The Chicago-based Englewood construction management company calls this trend a “renovation renaissance.”

“All of this commercial construction is taking place because smart owners and retail investors realize they need to refresh, rebrand and reimage the shopping experience to be competitive in the future,” Englewood said about the renovation trend.

“Lifestyle centers and power centers may have been the big play in the last major round of retail construction, but as ground-up shopping center construction projects are still seen as a risky endeavor, the surviving traditional centers are capitalizing on the improving retail market to initiate these commercial construction renovations to make them vital once again,” it said.

Another major DCG project is under way in Saratoga Springs. A 150-room Embassy Suites by Hilton is being built in the Congress Plaza off Congress Street. What had been a Grand Union supermarket and later a dinner theater has been demolished and the new hotel is going up in its place.

DCG Development owns the Congress Plaza. MacElroy said the hotel is expected to open sometime in the third quarter of 2014.

The Embassy Suites by Hilton is not an extended-stay hotel. MacElroy described it as an upscale, family-friendly facility with large rooms.

The company is also planning a major redevelopment of Malta Commons on Route 67 near Northway Exit 12.

The facility started out many years ago as Saratoga Village, a retail outlet complex that fell on hard times. DCG Development converted the property into a business park with a mix of offices and institutional uses.

MacElroy said DCG is working with the town of Malta and its new “form-based code” that allows for multistory buildings that include apartments upstairs and commercial and retail businesses on the ground floor.

“It encourages a denser sort of development,” McElroy said. He said DCG Development will make a “substantial investment” in the property but provided no timetable.

DCG Development has also developed properties in the Exit 10 area of Clifton Park.

Warehouse space constructed recently in the Tech Valley Flex Park off Wood Road is fully leased and work on a 100,000-square-foot building will soon be started. The company also owns 50 acres of “shovel ready” property directly off Northway Exit 10 that it expects to be attractive to GlobalFoundries spinoff ventures because it’s only 15 minutes from the giant computer chip plant.

Greene said property the company bought in Columbia, S.C., 10 years ago is just starting to “take off,” with national chains starting to close on lots. This 425-acre site was purchased from IBM and DCG Development built several miles of roads on the site.

“So we are busy,” Greene said.

Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett said DCG Development has been a “significant presence in Clifton Park and Saratoga County for decades.”

He said the company’s holdings are diverse.

He said the town had worked with the mall’s previous owner with some success but when DCG Development bought the property in 2006, they took what was earlier a “dying retail center” to an entirely new level of success.

“They have done a great job with the mall,” Barrett said.

 
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