Student Housing: United Group clears hurdle on $160M Troy project

Student Housing: United Group clears hurdle on $160M Troy project

The United Group of Cos., Inc. cleared a hurdle today toward bankrolling the first phase of a $160 million development in downtown Troy, N.Y., that would include student housing, retail stores, condominiums and a movie theater.

The Troy Industrial Development Agency formally accepted two preliminary applications from the United Group that, if ultimately approved, would provide $44 million in tax exempt financing for the project on lower Congress and Ferry streets.

United Group President and CEO Michael Uccellini stressed the figures could change as the company fine-tunes a project that was first announced four years ago but has been delayed due to site-control issues and the need to redesign the streets and install traffic lights.

The preliminary work on the street reconstruction has started and is expected to be finished in October 2010. Meanwhile, financing the mixed-use project remains a big challenge.

“On a scale of one to 10, the financing is a 10-plus,” Uccellini told the IDA during a morning meeting in City Hall.

If built, the development would radically change a 14.5 acre, hilly section of the city bordering Prospect Park that is now largely vacant land, shuttered businesses and outdated buildings.

In the first phase, the company would build 120,000 square feet of residential space that includes 360 beds for college students and an undetermined number of multi-family apartments; 80,000 square feet of retail space; an eight-screen movie theater built into the side of the hill; landscaped courtyards and a 600-space parking garage with retail stores on the ground level.

Security would be “intense,” Uccellini said. He wants to contract with the Troy police to provide extra patrols in the area.

Once the mixed-use space is built, the United Group would move ahead with 24 upscale condominiums at the corner of Congress and Eighth streets.

Uccellini estimated the total investment during the first phase, including the condominiums, would be $85 million.

Plans for the second phase call for tens of thousands of square feet of additional retail and residential space.

The goal is to create a modern but traditional looking development that would appeal to college students and professionals working in the area. The housing would be a short walk from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus, but would be marketed to all students, such as those at Russell Sage and Hudson Valley Community College.

The United Group has built off-campus housing for more than 4,000 students in New York. The apartment-style units come fully furnished with lots of amenities, a far cry from the cramped, on-campus dorms and shoddy off-campus flats that college students have lived in for years.

by Michael DeMasi for The Business Review (Albany)


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