ALBANY — The Albany Port District Commission is proposing to develop around 81.5 acres of land east of Route 144 in Glenmont.
This development, according to submitted town documents, would be “an industrial park with five conceptual layouts that range from 1.13 million square feet to 160,000 square feet of industrial use facilities.”
Megan Daly, the Commission’s Director of Economic Development and Procurement, said it is an expansion project for the port and “add 25 percent to the overall land size of the Port of Albany. With the land included, the Port District would be close to 400 acres altogether.”
The aforementioned concept layouts appear to be preliminary in nature for now as the project’s application is currently going through the Bethlehem Planning Board and has been under review by entities including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Transportation and the state Historic Preservation Office.
Each concept “would include associated access roads, employee parking, trailer parking, utility extensions, rail access from the north over Normans Kill and a bulkhead along Hudson River for on and offloading of equipment and materials,” according to the project’s submitted application.
The application was first presented to the Bethlehem Planning Board on Nov. 20, 2018.
Regarding recent updates, a public hearing on its Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement will be held at the Tuesday, Sept. 3 meeting and the public comment period has been extended to Sept. 14.
The land for the proposed development was bought by the Port of Albany in fall 2018, said Daly.
Bethlehem Planning Board Chairman John Smolinsky said that the project’s consultants will be there for the Sept. 3 meeting to go through the application to any interested residents and discuss topics like potential effects on water, sewer and geology.
“I think it’s a big opportunity for Bethlehem as we haven’t had much industrial development,” he said. “It’s in an area that’s targeted in our zoning as Industrial and it’s identified in our 2005 Comprehensive Plan to encourage industrial development.”
He added that there is “very little residential development” near the proposed site and its convenient location by the Hudson River and “right next to the Port makes it one of the obvious places in town to develop industrially.”
“We want to add more operations with businesses that have a use for a logistics hub. In the last 18 months or so, Governor Cuomo had the offshore wind initiative off the coast of New York at Long Island and he identified the need for supply chain activity in the state where companies would assemble and make parts for the offshore area,” Daly said. “We saw the [Glenmont] site as an excellent area for activity for offshore wind. We’re excited about what it could mean for the Port of Albany, the Capital Region and the New York offshore wind initiative.”
Speaking of that initiative, Daly said that it relates to Cuomo’s vision for a massive wind farm on Long Island to increase renewable energy usage.
The Port of Albany is proposed to be one site where production and manufacturing for that wind farm would start and then be transported down via the Hudson River.
Besides a hope to contribute to the offshore wind farm cause, Daly said it would ideally “help connect the Capital District to the international marine highway where we can move goods either from the Capital Region to the world or have products imported from the world to the Capital Region.”
According to Daly, since the application is still seeking a generic approval, the exact purpose or layout for each of the five aforementioned concepts is not finalized yet.
“The intention is for the offshore wind initiative and it remains a major target for us,” she said. “Right now, such products are manufactured in Europe but if the Capital Region has a substantial part in that, that’d be amazing.”
She confirmed that whatever the final concepts will be, they will be within the Town of Bethlehem’s zoning codes.
She also said that the Port of Albany is still working on the project’s cost estimates “but it could range as much as $100 million or more. It really depends on what exactly is located there.”
She added that the funding will come from the Port of Albany itself, from private investments from businesses that would lease space in the future development, and hopefully from grant applications the Port of Albany is either making or will make.
“The Port typically applies to economic development and/or transportation-related funding either through the New York State or federal application,” she said.
While Daly said she is not sure yet when exactly construction is expected to begin, she expressed hope that it would immediately start as soon as the project receives approval, “A really good construction timeframe for this is around two to five years.”
She brought up that there has not been any overt criticism about the project but instead, residents have been asking questions and expressing interest in learning more about it.
She added that there has been “some very positive feedback” since it is related to the offshore wind farm and renewable energy causes, as well as providing more local jobs which can complement the Capital District’s economy.