CENTER LAND BUYS GROW

Convention authority pays Albany County $453,000 for parcels in downtown Albany

JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST STAFF WRITER
Section: Business,  Page: B8

Date: Saturday, August 29, 2009

ALBANY -- The Albany Convention Center Authority approved the purchase of nine more parcels Friday as it continues to assemble the land needed for the proposed 266,000-square-foot facility.


The authority will pay Albany County $453,000 for the .39 acres, an area bounded by Hamilton, Green and Division streets that is used as parking lots.


The purchase marks the second approved by the nine-member authority board in its quest to secure the roughly six acres needed by year's end to begin construction by spring.


Last month, the board made its first buy -- a half-acre from Greyhound used as a storage parking for buses at the nearby Greyhound terminal.


"These are important parcels that we need to control in order to build this convention center," said Gavin Donohue, chairman of the board.


Friday's purchase came a day after the authority unveiled images of what the facility could look like. The public has until Sept. 9 to submit comments before architects begin drafting a rendering to be presented at the board's Oct. 30 meeting.


Simultaneously, the authority's construction managers, Gilbane/BBL, will prepare cost estimates for presentation at the same meeting, said Duncan Stewart, the authority's executive director.


At the moment, the facility is projected to cost between $225 million and $240 million.


"I expect to be able to stick to the budget number as we move forward," Donohue said.


Both he and Stewart noted the prices of some commodities have been depressed by the country's sputtering economy, potentially lowering some construction costs while putting the facility on a track to open as the economy rebounds.


Exactly how the convention center will be paid for is still unresolved, but Stewart said the authority anticipates using what's left of an original $75 million set aside by Gov. George Pataki in combination with tax-free bonds that the Legislature enabled the authority to issue.


Construction is expected to take about two years.


Jordan Carleo-Evangelist can be reached at 454-5445 or by e-mail at jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com.