Troy Deserves Better
Overview of the 1 Monument Square Redevelopment
We the undersigned request that The City of Troy, Troy City Council, Mayor Madden, the New York State Department of State, New York State Empire Development and the Planning Commission of The City of Troy not permit this project to move forward as:
- It is an inappropriate use of public funds and the project, as currently envisioned by the developer, will use approximately $3.8 million of taxpayer money for largely private use.
- It does not provide sufficient parking
- It does not provide sufficient access to the river
- It is an inappropriate design, material and massing for this historic district
Troy Deserves BetterRead the petition
On July 17, 2008 State Senator Joseph L. Bruno unveiled a funding package for Troy saying “City Hall is going to come down. In its place will be a 200-space underground parking garage. On top, it will be all grass”
The Troy City Hall Contract Grant and the Public Access Improvements at Riverfront Park and Troy City Center Grant awarded money to be used for planning and design consulting services. These services would be used to develop:
- A concealed parking garage, the sub-surface parking area would contain approximately 200 spaces and serve the needs of the privately developed mixed-use building(s), other downtown businesses and Riverfront Park.
- Any building(s) constructed as part of the project would have 90,000 square feet of space
- Some of the funds from these grants were used to pay for the Sasaki study which set forth the design guidelines for the redevelopment of the City Hall site.
A synopsis of the grant requirements follows:
Redevelopment Of City Hall Site – Dept. Of State – COO6667
These funds may go towards construction of a public park on the roof of a concealed parking garage as part of a mixed-use development that will include a building(s) that will provide space that may include retail, commercial, governmental and/or residential uses. The sub-surface parking area would contain approximately 200 spaces and serve the needs of the privately developed mixed-use building(s), other downtown businesses and Riverfront Park.
Grant Balance: $1,533,020
Troy Match: $1,394,110
Public Access Improvements At Riverfront Park And Troy City Center – Dept. Of State C007154
These funds may be used for enhancing pedestrian linkages (the Plaza) to the waterfront. The match (also $694,444) for this funding will be made by the developer’s investment in the plaza and the connection.
Grant Available: $694,444
Demolition Of City Hall – Empire State Development W082
These funds may be used for follow up work related to the completed demolition of the former City Hall building. This may include structural enhancement to the retaining wall, work on the water main and infrastructure. The grant will be matched by $218,000 of investment in the same, by developer. While this grant expires on 6/30/17, extensions are anticipated.
Grant Available: $182,759
TOTAL OF ALL GRANTS: $3,804,341
On December 19th, 2016, after multiple failed attempts at redevelopment, the City of Troy requested proposals for the Redevelopment of Monument Square which you can find here.
On March 1st, 2017, Sonny Bonacio and Bow Tie Cinemas are selected to redevelop vacant land at One Monument into a nine-screen movie theater with about 3,000 square feet of retail space. As part of the deal, a 10th movie screen will open down the block inside the closed American Theater at 285-289 River St.
BOW TIE CINEMA’S LEGACY/RFP BACKGROUND & DESIGN PROPOSAL:
Bow Tie has a long history of operating theaters in downtown urban locations that blend with the fabric of the community. The company is dedicated to “Bringing Style and Elegance Back to the Movie Going Experience(R)” At their February presentation to the Advisory Group, assembled by the City, they reiterated these values and their commitment to fitting in and becoming part of Troy’s community. The Advisory Group expressed concerns about the size of the 8-10 screens that they were proposing and asked that they consider scaling it back to be more appropriate for downtown Troy. The group also asked for projections on traffic count and parking spaces required. Also at this meeting the Bow Tie design team presented renderings of public space under the theaters facing the river. The original response to the city’s RFP from Bonacio Construction/Bow Tie can be found here.
When Bow Tie’s plan was unveiled in July, it had grown to 11 theaters and become a large box that occupies nearly every available square foot of the site and is clad with an array of rain screen materials that have no place in downtown Troy. This issue was addressed at the Advisory Group meeting where Sonny Bonacio was asked directly if he was carrying adequate funds in the budget to build with quality materials appropriate for our downtown. He was reminded of the last proposal and the public outcry and resistance to their attempt to build an inappropriate building. Mr. Bonacio assured the group that he understood and had adequate funds in his budget to do it right.
Bow Tie is not addressing the traffic and parking demands the multiplex will create on the City. The Bow Tie parking garage will have 105 parking places. Joe Masher, COO of Bow Tie, stated that the theaters are open from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm, this means that the parking garage is effectively unavailable to the public. Bow Tie is welcome to do this with their own money, but they cannot do this with the Grant funds attached to this site.
Bow Tie is aware of the parking problems in Downtown Troy. When they looked at Proctors Theater 10 years ago, they chose not to pursue that project due to the cost of rehabilitating the old theater and the lack of parking. Since then the parking situation has only gotten worse.
Many businesses have inadequate or no parking for their employees. Many building owners have vacant office space because of the lack of parking. In the last year, businesses with 100 – 150 employees have tried to find space in downtown and have had to move elsewhere because there is no parking.
Unfortunately, the proposed project is only going to make this problem worse. Most municipal ordinances require one dedicated parking space for every three to four theater seats. These guidelines came about for a reason. With Bow Tie’s proposed 1,400 plus seats in the combined multiplex and American Theater, they should have between 350 and 465 dedicated parking spaces. The City of Troy promotes a parking study financed in part by the last developer who tried to build at the site. The methodology and data in this study is seriously flawed and concludes that there is no parking shortage in Downtown Troy. The City has chosen to “play ostrich” about parking and traffic problems. A proper traffic and parking study needs to be done as part of this project.
Many issues concerning Bow Tie’s project trigger an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The City has chosen to ignore these issues. SEQR (New York State Environmental Quality Review Act) defines “Environmental Factors” broadly and they include:
- Land, Water, Air, Plants & Animals
- Agricultural Land, Aesthetics
- Historic & Archaeological
- Open Space & Recreation
- Critical Environmental Areas
- Transportation, Energy
- Noise & Odor, Public Health
- Growth & Community Character
The City believes it can declare Bow Tie’s project a Type II action and issue a Negative Declaration. This is a serious mistake and, along with many of the zoning and planning board blunders, opens the project to an Article 78 action.