Authority disburses $83 million

Section: Main,  Page: A8

Date: Sunday, February 26, 2006

Since its creation in 1998, the Metroplex Development Authority has awarded more than $83 million in grants and loans for projects throughout Schenectady County, the majority of which has gone to revitalization efforts in downtown Schenectady.

Schenectady County legislators and representatives from Schenectady and the county's five towns choose the authority's 11-member board. The authority's funds comes from a half-percentage-point increase in the county sales tax. The authority receives 70 percent of the increase, which translated into $7 million last year. The other 30 percent - $3 million - is split among the towns. In the years since Metroplex was established, Schenectady County raised the tax by another half percentage point, but the revenue goes to the county and local governments.

Authority Chairman Ray Gillen was appointed to the post in February 2004. John Manning was the authority's first chairman, serving from 1998 until 2004.

Projects receiving Metroplex aid include:

The $33 million construction of MVP Health Plan headquarters at 625 State St. Metroplex paid for the construction of an $11 million garage that adjoins the office building. It was completed in 2001.

Metroplex contributed $10 million to the $22.4 million expansion of Proctor's Theatre into a performing arts center. Expansion of main playhouse completed in 2005. Entire project expected to be completed in December.

Metroplex contributed a $3.6 million construction loan and a $750,000 grant for facade work on the Bow Tie Movie Theater planned at the corner of State Street and Broadway. Construction has not started.

Metroplex financed the $8 million expansion of an existing parking garage next to the state's new regional Department of Transportation office at the corner of State Street and Broadway. Project completed in 2003.

Metroplex contributed a $2 million loan and a $750,000 facade grant for the construction of a Hampton Inn at the corner of State and Clinton streets. Building under construction.

Metroplex contributed a $1 million loan and a $1.5 million grant to Mildred Elley Business School for the conversion of the $7 million Center City sports and office complex in a new location for the vocational school. Construction has not begun.

- Mike Goodwin