Amsterdam IDA is still considering development options for the Chalmers site
AMSTERDAM – The Chalmers site has attracted new interest from developers as the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency continues to consider options for the future of the important site on the south side.
Amanda Bearcroft, executive director of AIDA and director of community and economic development for Amsterdam, said on Monday that there had been numerous inquiries from developers about the vacant 3.3-acre Chalmers property on Bridge Street since she pointed it out at the Mohawk Valley Brownfields Developer Summit in April.
The AIDA Board of Directors postponed its regular meeting to today at 5:30 p.m. to hear from a developer interested in the site who could not have made it next week. AIDA board chairman Joseph Emanuele and Bearcroft both declined to name the developer.
“It’s just an introduction to the board, feeling them out and seeing if anything can move forward. There are still other people interested,” Bearcroft said. to have meetings and do site visits with a multitude of developers.”
As the council listens to early ideas for the property, Emanuele said AIDA is considering issuing a request for proposals to gather more concrete concepts for possible projects. He acknowledged the move would thwart past criticism from residents of failures to market the site widely and solicit proposals.
“It just gives everyone fair change,” Emanuele said. “It just opens up a wider field of potential for the property.”
“We cover all the bases that way. If anyone else is interested, they can come and speak with the board before deciding which way to go,” Bearcroft agreed.
KCG Development previously planned to build a $34 million workforce housing complex and banquet hall on the site after reaching an option to purchase agreement with the city. The developer sought to continually renew the option until it could secure tax credits to fund construction, but bought the property for $297,000 in 2019 after officials refused to extend the OK.
AIDA purchased the Chalmers property from KCG for around $300,000 in 2020 after local support faded for the developer’s plans that dashed hopes of securing needed tax credits.
Emanuele said he would support releasing an RFP for the property as soon as possible if there is interest from other board members to accelerate progress toward an actual project. Council could receive a motion as early as today’s meeting.
“I will just remain open to ideas and suggestions and look forward to working with the board for the best possible fit on the Chalmers site,” added Emanuele.
According to Bearcroft, it is still possible that the Lanzi family will continue with their plans to build a brewery on part of the property to complete discussions that have been ongoing throughout the past year.
“We keep them in conversations,” Bearcroft said. “At this time, they have not submitted a formal proposal to IDA requesting a purchase or a subdivision.”
AIDA received a $250,000 grant from Empire State Development late last year for the brewery project to be developed by the Lanzi family and Artisanal Brew Works of Saratoga Springs. The price was significantly lower than the asking $760,000.
While funding remains available should the project move forward, Bearcroft said AIDA has yet to enter into a contract with the state committing to accepting the grant tied to the brewery plans. She was unaware of a specific expiration date for the funding and indicated that discussions with the state will be required once the direction of the property is known.
It’s possible another developer could acquire the Chalmers property and incorporate plans to build the brewery to be operated by the Lanzi family, Bearcroft said.
“We try to work with all the partners because what they come up with would be viable and just bring another gear to the city,” Bearcroft said. “We obviously want to see this property developed, but we also need to make sure that we do our due diligence to make sure the project is viable and works for [the developer] and everyone in the city of Amsterdam.
The renewed effort to find a developer for the property comes as the city and AIDA consider the possible construction of a public realm improvement project on the south side at the north end of the property aimed at improving the area and attract activities to the site which will be partially funded by the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.
The project will consist of installing a boardwalk along the existing levy wall near the Mohawk River and connecting to the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge with public amenities. The feature will be built with $312,785 from DRI funds, $150,000 from State Canal Corporation and $115,696 from National Grid. Design drafts were prepared by Saratoga Associates.
The Lanzi family did not immediately return a request for comment for this story on Monday.
Contact Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.