Dominick Calsolaro

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Area near bus station recommended for convention center site

Published on 8/1/2006 by the The Business Review written by by Michael DeMasi

The Albany Convention Center Authority voted unanimously to build the convention center in an area bounded by Broadway, S. Pearl Street, Madison Avenue, and State Street. About five to seven acres of the tract are needed for the project. An environmental study will be done to determine how best to fit the convention center, hotel, and parking garage there.

Among the major factors in picking the location over the others was the need to accommodate up to 70 or 80 tractor trailers for trade show staging, said authority chairman George Leveille. The other sites that were considered were problematic because of their accessibility and opposition from some residents and historic preservationists.

The state Office of General Services also raised several objections to an expansion of Empire State Plaza, including the elimination of green space, blocking the view of the large fieldstone retaining wall and the numerous underground utilities that would have to be relocated.

But a real estate agent told a reporter that the site "makes the most sense."

Selecting a preferred site for the convention center is one step on a long list for the authority to accomplish before a shovel goes in the ground. Other steps include a new market analysis to gauge the need for a roughly 300,000-square-foot convention center, 400-room hotel and 1,000-car parking garage, conducting an environmental review and hiring full-time staff. The authority has targeted spring 2008 to begin construction.

The authority will try to purchase the parcels it needs at fair market value, but is prepared to use eminent domain if necessary, Leveille said.