COLONIE — A plan to demolish a vacant building along Troy-Schenectady Road and replace it with a 107,000-square-foot office building was forwarded by the Planning Board at its last meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14.
Traffic along the busy section of Route 7 remains an issue, though.
Alanna Moran, a traffic engineer with VHB, presented a traffic study on behalf of the applicant, First Columbia, a developer that also owns the facility.
She said the proposal would generate 270 trips during the morning peak hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 243 during the afternoon peak hours from 4 to 6 p.m. She compared it to the previous use, which included a medical office building, which was 243 during the morning peak and 375 during the afternoon peak.
She said only 3 percent is expected to travel to Rosendale Road, which was a concern because of the backup during rush hour at the intersection with Troy-Schenectady Road. She added that the “level of service” for travelers on Troy-Schenectady Road will be impacted but it could be mitigated by extending the time the light is green on the main thoroughfare. Any change to the lights timing, though, would be up to the state Department of Transportation.
Chris Bette, First Columbia vice president, said the Airport GEIS was developed in 1991 and at that time there were 35,700 cars per day along that section of Route 7. Now, according to Moran’s study, there are 36,500 cars per day — the estimate was intentionally inflated by 20 percent to account for fewer cars because of COVID — despite development at his property and massive changes on the south side of Route 7.
“The GEIS projected 86,000 cars per day at this point in time,” he said. “Both sides [of Route 7] have been able to work for a number of years and when there was a medical facility on both sides of the street there was much more traffic.”
He said the tenant that will be moving in, the New York State Insurance Fund — which will consolidate operations from Computer Drive in Colonie and Watervliet Avenue in Albany — works a staggered shift arriving to work between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. and leaving between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
First Columbia has owned the 16-acre site since the early 2000s. Ot consists of 1201, 1203 and 1205 Troy Schenectady Road. The 26,000-square-foot building being demolished, 1201, is the first building as you enter the site from Troy Schenectady Road.
If approved and constructed, the new building will connect to the existing building located directly behind it.
Bette said NYSIF wants a building that is rated “gold” and as such it will be built with water usage, waste reduction and energy efficiency in mind.
There was more discussion of having a multi-use trail from the sidewalk along the north side of Troy Schenectady Road, through the Riverhill site to the Mohawk River but while Bette is amenable to the idea, a steep slope and the need to traverse other private property remains deterrents.
The project will need to come before the Planning Board at least once more for final site plan approval before construction can start.