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Troy city council clears way for Rosenblum project

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Troy city council clears way for Rosenblum project

The Troy city council voted Thursday to sell a sliver of vacant land near the corner of Ferry and Fourth streets to a major Capital Region real-estate developer, potentially allowing for a new project at the nearby, former KeyBank site to move forward.

The Rosenblum Cos. will pay $500 for 86 Ferry St., the same amount it bid on a nearby vacant structure at 163 Fourth St., a sale the city council approved last month. The two parcels nearly surround the downtown Troy headquarters of Capitaland Taxi.

The city council had tabled the sale of 86 Ferry St. after learning that the neighboring property owner—Yolanda DerArakelian, who planned to sell her home and, if her bid were chosen, the adjacent lot to a small catering business—had offered twice as much as Rosenblum.

Rosenblum’s pursuit of the two parcels, in a somewhat roundabout way, stems from its interest in acquiring the 28-space public parking lot next to the KeyBank lot. (The KeyBank lot is already under contract, The Alt reported last month.) The city “would only entertain” selling the parking lot if Rosenblum replaced it with a nearby lot of comparable size, planning commissioner Steve Strichman explained in a recent memo of support for the sale.

That replacement lot, according to Strichman’s memo, will be the Capitaland lot at the northwest corner of Ferry and Fourth streets.

Rosenblum bid on 163 Fourth and 86 Ferry streets apparently with the intention of then transferring the parcels to Capitaland, allowing the cab company to increase its parking capacity on the south side of Ferry St. in exchange for selling the lot across the street.

The developer’s bids for the two parcels say it will spend about $70,000 demolishing the vacant structure and paving the two lots for “private parking related to [a] prospective development project.” The bids do not mention transferring the lots to Capitaland.

The neighbor’s losing bid for 86 Ferry St. also did not outline the full extent of her plans, according to Councilman Jim Gulli, who participated in the property review committee meeting where Rosenblum’s bid was chosen. Had the committee known of DerArakelian’s plans, “our thoughts might have been different,” Gulli said. (The committee evaluates bids on a variety of metrics, including their feasibility and potential neighborhood impact, rather than solely on the price offered.)

Several local business owners spoke in support of the sale to Rosenblum at Thursday night’s meeting. Jeff Mirel, a Rosenblum executive, also spoke briefly before the council. “We believe very much in the city of Troy,” he said.

DerArakelian’s neighbor Richard Kiernan, appearing in support of the losing bidder, expressed concern about the expansion of parking for the cab company on that side of the street. The owners of the catering company, Bob and Maria Decker, shared plans for their concept with the council and asked that if Rosenblum’s plans fall through, they “at least be notified, so that we can pursue it.”

Councilmember Anasha Cummings, who met with both bidders before the vote, said that litter and code-enforcement issues associated with the taxi company’s lot will be addressed during the planning board’s review of the proposed parking expansion. Cummings also held out the possibility of a sale provision that says if the Rosenblum project does not proceed, the Deckers get the parcel.

Without sharing many details at this preliminary stage, Mirel told The Alt that the Rosenblum project at the combined KeyBank/city lot site will be somewhat akin to the new portion of The News Apartments, a $23 million, mixed-use apartment complex currently under construction at 501 Broadway, a design which incorporates the preexisting former Troy Record building. 

Council President Carmella Mantello said the decision to award Rosenblum 86 Ferry St. was “a tough one,” as it essentially pitted a small business against a major project at a currently underutilized site. Councilman Mark McGrath cast the lone vote against the sale, citing concerns about Capitaland’s expansion on the south side of Ferry St.

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