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The Arts Center of the Capital Region Seeks Tenant



Lauren Halligan, The Record

The Arts Center of the Capital Region is seeking a new neighbor to occupy its vacant upper floors. The center, which owns a total of six buildings from 261 to 271 River St. in downtown Troy, has 22,500 square feet available on its third and fourth floors, and the nonprofit is looking for something to fill it.

The organization recently issued a request for partners, projects and proposals in hopes of finding an interested party that could develop and utilize the long-empty space.

These upper floors were last inhabited by the building’s former owner Standard Furniture, from which the Arts Center bought the property in 1995.

The Arts Center currently occupies the basement, first and second floors of the buildings - 23,600 square feet, or just about half of the 46,100-square-foot property.

Set between six adjoining buildings, the several unoccupied units are not all on the same level, which could be a challenge during development. At some places the property has five total stories, including the basement, and in others it has four.

The large rooms are old, with some structures dating back to the 1800s, and haven’t seen many repairs in quite a few decades. However they offer a lot of space located right in the heart of downtown Troy, with views overlooking River Street and Monument Square. Directly behind the property is Riverfront Park and the Hudson River.

In late 2015, before CEO Elizabeth Reiss came in as the Arts Center’s leader, it was announced that the organization was selling the property to the Troy-based Sequence Development, which would have created apartments upstairs in addition to keeping the center as a tenant, but this never came to be as Sequence Development ultimately decided to not to pursue the redevelopment.

The initiative to fill the space was reinvigorated upon discovery that repairs must be made to the property’s facade and windows. In a property conditions assessment from 2017, EYP Architecture & Engineering recommended advised that the facade, particularly the wood window systems on the upper floors, receive attention within the next few years, correcting any existing issues.

The Arts Center wants to find a tenant that would cover the cost of renovations, as is sometimes procedure with commercial properties, but Reiss said she’s open to conversations about possibly co-fundraising or striking a deal within the rental agreement. “It’s a little open-ended,” she said. “This is meant to be dialogic.”

Right now, the Arts Center is open-minded about what could go in the vacant space. Commercial, residential and nonprofit proposals will all be considered, along with any other ideas that may come along.

The only guidelines are that the Arts Center wants to maintain ownership of the building, and ideally the project would create minimal disruption to the Arts Center’s operations, both while under construction and then while operating.

“With the ACCR’s finances stabilized, and the future of downtown Troy on a positive trend, ACCR is interested in working together with community members to activate the upper floors, allowing this flagship set of properties right on Monument Square to act as a center of engagement and activity,” the request for proposals stated.

Reiss said she has a couple different visions for the site, one of them being that the property could serve as “a beacon of creativity for Troy” by partnering with a like-missioned nonprofit or business. “The whole building becomes animated with artists and creatives coming and going,” she said. “That would be incredible.”

Though she isn’t at all adverse to residential proposals, Reiss said, “I could see how it could really push Troy over the edge to have this building in kind of full public use.”

The timeline in the request for proposals, which has been sent to approximately 20 developers, asks that developers submit a concept and qualification proposal by April 20 followed by a formal proposal in mid-June. Then, the Arts Center plans to select a winning proposal by June 30.

So far, the Arts Center is seeing a good amount of interest, Reiss said. Two firms wanted to develop the space prior to the request for proposals, which is one of the reasons it was issued. Since then, roughly half a dozen firms have emailed asking for the RFP, and Reiss has been busy giving tours of the space.

Reiss realizes it’s going to take just the right candidate to pursue this project. “We know it’s going to take a special someone. We know it’s a unique space. We know somebody is going to have to be pretty clever about the different floor levels. We’re willing to work together on that. In so far as the Arts Center maintaining ownership, we recognize that we may play a greater role in resource acquisition, or whatever that might look like,” she said.

Those interested in submitted a proposal can obtain a copy of the request by inquiring through the Arts Center.

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