Three projects now in progress are helping bring renewed vitality to city's downtown

Section: Business,  Page: C1

Date: Thursday, March 4, 2010

SCHENECTADY -- Wednesday was a good day for central Schenectady.

On one side of State Street, officials gathered to celebrate an expansion of the Proctors theater company into a former bank. On the opposite side, workers continued the rebuilding of City Center, a $27 million project.

Meanwhile, a short distance away, the new headquarters for Golub Corp. continued its transition from a construction site to a place where people actually work.

"We started moving people in this week," said Mona Golub, a spokeswoman for the company, which operates the Price Chopper supermarket chain.

Proctors is moving into space formerly owned by KeyBank, which sold the downtown property at 436 State St. for a bargain-basement price of $150,000. Proctors will use the building's grand lobby primarily for events such as banquets and weddings.

"We envision that as a growth opportunity," said Proctors CEO Philip Morris.

Key had occupied the space for 33 years, and it has been used as a bank branch for about 100 years. But Cleveland-based Key recently relocated its downtown branch to State Street, making the building available.

Morris said the theater had not yet determined how much it would spend on a renovation.

Morris said the back of the branch connects to the Proctors arcade. For that reason, he said, the theater has long eyed the space for expansion.

Key sold the building for far below market value -- but the space will continue to carry the Key name, as it will be called Key Hall at Proctors.

The building certainly looks like a bank, with its Grecian-style columns and portico. But other area banks have been successfully converted to other uses.

Franklin Plaza in Troy, for example, uses a grand former bank space for banquets and weddings. And WAMC, the radio network, converted a Central Avenue bank branch into a performance hall.

Said Morris of the new Proctors property: "This is a unique space and will be one more reason for people to spend time in downtown Schenectady."

The Golub and City Center projects will expand the city's office space.

Center City, a project by Galesi Group in Rotterdam, is remaking a complex that had long been a downtown white elephant. The complex, which now is just a steel frame from the State Street side, will be home to new office space, a YMCA, a bank branch and other tenants.

The Golub project, meanwhile, involves relocating that company's headquarters from Rotterdam.

The brick-and-glass building on Nott Street, not far from downtown, will eventually house 800 to 1,000 Golub employees.

Mona Golub said the movement of workers to the new building will occur gradually and should be complete by May.

Chris Churchill can be reached at 454-5442 or