By HEATHER NELLIS
The Empire State Development Board of Directors voted on Monday to pay the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency a $225,000 grant awarded a year ago for renovations to the former United Way building on East Main Street.
AIDA Executive Director Jody Zakrevsky said today the funds will reimburse the agency for money already spent on the near $600,000 project, which he says is 95 percent complete.
Zakrevsky said it is a reimbursable grant program, and it requires the work to be completed first before the board will vote to release the funds. AIDA submitted a significant amount of documentation to the program to show how much work had already been completed.
"I am extremely pleased ESD voted to release the grant funds. They have been an absolute joy to work with, and have been very helpful and understanding, and worked on expediting our contracts," Zakrevsky said.
Two residential tenants have already leased the second floor of the structure, and Zakrevsky said "there is a good amount of interest on the ground floor for commercial space."
At its meeting next week, the agency board will decide between moving forward with the state-approved wall covering of a historic mural, or hold off to instead do facade work to the exterior of the building, Zakrevsky said.
"The only thing outstanding on the mural is the false wall in order not to damage remnants of the mural. Everything else, such as plumbing and heating, has been installed," Zakrevsky said.
A news release issued Monday from Empire State Development announcing the grant notes the project is part of downtown rehabilitation efforts.
In December 2012, AIDA and other state agencies, including the state Canal Corp. and the state Department of Transportation targeted the city's Downtown Central Business District, "which had been deteriorating for over 20 years, for extensive rehabilitation to make the area more accessible and attractive for visitors and residents."
The district is the only federally designated Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zone within Montgomery County.
AIDA sought to purchase and renovate a number of vacant buildings in the district that could not be restored by the private sector due to the low return on investment, identifying two adjacent buildings at 44 and 46 E. Main St. that could serve as cornerstones in the downtown area.