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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Final Approvals Granted for Arena at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady

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SCHENECTADY — Exciting news for the city as the Schenectady Planning Commission has given final approval to a proposed hockey arena at Mohawk Harbor that will also serve as an event center.

Maxon Alco Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of the Galesi Group, has received the green light to break ground on the 97,000-square-foot arena, which is estimated to cost upwards of $50 million. The facility’s rear wall will face the Mohawk River and a mixed-use trail that runs throughout the harbor, and the project had previously received conditional approval from city planners.

The building’s rear façade will feature vertical stripping, space for a mural, and a sign for the facility’s future sponsor. Additionally, trees and other plants will be planted to enhance the view for those walking along the trail.

“The goal is to make it look as nice as it can,” said David Ahl, chief operating officer of the Galesi Group, which has been behind the redevelopment of Mohawk Harbor — a former brownfield site that was once home to the American Locomotive Co.

A special-use permit necessary to operate the facility had previously been granted, and the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the necessary variances for parking last week.

Plans for the arena include a seating capacity of 2,200 for hockey games, expanding to 3,595 for other events. The arena is expected to be the future home of Union College’s hockey teams, though negotiations to lease the space remain ongoing between the college and Galesi Group.

The Garnet Chargers currently play at the on-campus Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center, which was built in the mid-1970s.

Plans to construct an arena at Mohawk Harbor first surfaced in 2020 as officials worked to hash out details around the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative — a $10 million state grant to rehab portions of the downtown area. Funding for the project, however, was never awarded.

But the project gained steam last year, when Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, announced $10 million in funding was secured for the project as part of the state’s budget.

A timeframe for when the project will break ground remains unclear, though Ahl has said previously that work on the site could begin as early as January. He declined to comment following Wednesday’s meeting.

The Planning Commission meeting took place just days after Galesi Group CEO David Buicko hinted that the arena project might not move forward if the finances don’t work out.

“We’re evaluating the alternatives for the highest and best use — both for the community and for us — on the balance of Mohawk Harbor,” Buicko told The Daily Gazette’s Andrew Waite. “Sometime over the next 30 days or so, we’re going to lay out numbers, see what that [event center] would cost as well as what our alternatives would cost.”

The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority has already approved a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the facility as well as a mortgage tax and sales tax exemption for all construction materials.

This new arena and event center will be a great addition to the city, providing a space for sports, entertainment, and community events for years to come.

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Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton, a skillful journalist previously based in Boston, is adept at covering a diverse array of stories. Her thorough and engaging reporting style, honed with a Master's in Journalism from Boston University, focuses on community-relevant stories.
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