A FLAGSHIP FOR A NEW ERA

Golub Corp.'s choice of Schenectady affirms faith in the city of its roots

ERIC ANDERSON BUSINESS EDITOR
Section: Business,  Page: C1

Date: Friday, June 4, 2010

SCHENECTADY -- This city has been on a roll lately, with new restaurants, theaters, hotels, offices and other businesses.


But perhaps the most notable addition to the city's skyline is the new six-story headquarters for the Golub Corp., which operates the expanding Price Chopper supermarket chain.


The contrast with what the building replaces couldn't be more stark: a polluted industrial site that sat vacant and fallow for decades has been cleaned up, and in place of an abandoned shopping plaza, is a state-of-the-art office tower.


"It's really a transformational project," said Susan Savage, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature. "It's a project that could have gone anywhere, and it's here."


The site was assembled from several parcels that Ray Gillen, the commissioner of planning and economic development for Schenectady County, thought could accommodate three 60,000-square-foot office buildings.


The Galesi Group acquired the site and set about redeveloping it.


State and federal funding helped cover the costs of removing 10,000 tons of dirt and more than 400,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater, much of it from spilled fuel that dated from the years that the former Alco plant assembled diesel locomotives there.


Meanwhile, Golub's rapidly expanding supermarket chain needed more space at its warehouse facility in Rotterdam, so the company decided to consolidate its headquarters elsewhere. Golub will invest up to $50 million on the Rotterdam expansion project.


Gillen and others said the company was courted by surrounding counties and states, but in the end, it settled on Schenectady for its new $33 million headquarters.


David Buicko, president of Galesi Development Corp., said the decision will be a good one for the city.


The office tower will employ more than 700 people, and as the company expands, employment there could grow.


"Their employees, their vendors, the number of people who come in and visit Golub on an annual basis will have a big impact on Schenectady," Buicko said. "A lot of them (will go out) to lunch, out to dinner. It's a really great thing" for downtown Schenectady.


The new headquarters is expected to qualify for gold status under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. That's the second-highest of the four qualifying levels.


"This is one of the most spectacular buildings ever built in the whole Capital District," said state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna. Golub "is one of the finest family corporations in the United States and one of the most successful, too," he added.


The building was dedicated in ceremonies on Wednesday morning, which also was the 47th wedding anniversary of Chairman and CEO Neil Golub and his wife, Jane.


Buicko called the new Golub headquarters "another key ingredient, and a big one," in Schenectady's resurgence, joining companies such as General Electric, which has its renewable energy headquarters here and is building a state-of-the-art battery plant, MVP Health Care, and Siemens downtown.


Buicko said Siemens does its worldwide training in Schenectady, and that employees stay downtown at the Hampton Inn or the Parker Inn and walk to the offices.


For the Golub family, the new headquarters in a sense is a return to its roots. The company's first Central Market, named for its proximity to Central Park, opened in Schenectady in 1933, a few miles from the new building at 461 Nott St. The company changed its stores' names to Price Chopper in 1973.


And a long-closed railroad underpass near the new building will be reopened, Gillen said Thursday, benefitting the entire neighborhood by providing better access to Erie Boulevard.


Buicko said an engineering firm from the suburbs, which he wasn't ready to identify, plans to move into the city, seeing its location in a vibrant downtown as a recruiting tool to attract young engineers.


What's next for downtown?


Buicko sees more retail development, followed by residential growth.


"It's happening. It's not perfect," he said. But, "everybody's working together."


Eric Anderson can be reached at 454-5323 or by e-mail at eanderson@timesunion.com.


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Designing a building with an eye to employees and the environment.