Developer taking a swing at Schenectady golf course project

SCHENECTADY –  The Midwestern real estate development company that brought a million-square-foot Amazon warehouse and fulfillment center to Schodack wants municipal leaders in Rotterdam and Schenectady to consider rezoning a 117-acre tract that straddles the communities.  

But Zachary Zweifler, a development manager with Scannell Properties, LLC, of Indianapolis, told the Times Union that if the zoning changes are ultimately approved for the project, there are no plans to build an Amazon warehouse on what is now the Stadium Golf Club near I-890 and Route 7 with easy access to two state Thruway interchanges.

“We’ve had no conversations at all with Amazon, no vision of Amazon – nothing’s been discussed, nothing’s been thought of,”  said Zweifler.  “I think that this is a large enough site that we should have, and I anticipate we will have, a mix of uses.” 

Still, neighbors near the course are skittish and are considering their next shot.

Scannell has also sought to change the zoning requirements at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta so that it can build several large buildings that could be used for manufacturing, research and development or warehouses. Right now, the roughly 55 acres situated in Schenectady is zoned multi-family residential and one family residential for the approximately 63 acres in Rotterdam. 

Scannell is seeking a zoning change to make it a business zone in Schenectady and light industrial in Rotterdam. 

The application on file with the Schenectady Planning Office states that the “proposal would provide beneficial development and services” to city residents. 

Chad Putman, who lives in Woodlawn and is part of the neighborhood association, said Friday that he and other concerned neighbors are closely monitoring the developments. He said the neighborhood association know of  least five homeowners on Kings Road abutting the golf course that the developer has already approached with an offer to purchase their residence.   

“You’re talking about taking 160 acres of green space in our neighborhood and transforming it into a parking lot, warehouses, and massive amounts of trucks coming and going on a regular basis, and we don’t really see how that works for our neighborhood,” said Putman, who is also involved with the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association.

He said they plan on convening a neighborhood meeting in February to discuss the proposed rezoning, which would have to pass muster with both the governing bodies and planning boards in Schenectady and Rotterdam.   

Schenectady Planning Commission Chairwoman Mary Moore Wallinger said she hopes residents will have a chance to weigh in.   

 “It’s a large site, and whatever the proposal is, it’ll be important to include the community in the decision, and to give them a chance to understand what’s being proposed,” she said.   

Nearing the end

In November, Scannell Properties, which has done projects for General Electric, FedEx, General Mills and Best Buy, announced the agreement with Stadium owner Greg Hennel.

Hennel, 56, said he made the difficult decision to sell because his children are not interested in taking the course over, and he’s ready to give up working seven days a week during golf season.

He recalled  his family’s deep roots and the sports history at the golf course but expressed confidence that whatever replaces it will create many more full-time jobs than he could ever offer, generate tax revenue for the municipality and won’t be a  burden on the school systems.  

“There’s a little bit of sadness there, but I also need to think about what’s best for me, and what’s best for the community,” said Hennel.  He said  Scannell has the option to buy the property but emphasized that Stadium will be open for golfing this year.   

The  deal is structured in a way that once Hennell decides to retire, Scanell will acquire the property from him, said Zweifler.   

“We’re really just trying to do the groundwork for when the current owner of the property decides he’s ready to retire, ” said Zweifler.  

Potential uses

Zweifler said that since the announcement of the deal, Scannell has so far heard from and spoken with businesses involved in retail, research and development, medical, office, and light manufacturing among others.

“I think all of those, or probably some combination thereof, is probably what’s going to end up being on the site,” added Zweifler. “I don’t think that there’s a single user that’s going to come in and take over the whole project. I think that it’s going to go to a variety of projects.” 

The full environment assessment part of Scannell’s application on file with  Schenectady indicates peak traffic is expected mornings, evenings and weekends and that the anticipated hours of operation could be 24-hours a day most days, including holidays.

That same environment paperwork also shows that potential businesses could use 100,000 gallons of water per day.  

Zweifler said that level of detail is “purely just for the SEQRA (environmental quality) review,” noting that golf courses already use a lot of water for irrigation. 

“We have to do worst-case scenario, so for us … so that’s why we’ve asked them to review it based on that assumption,” he said.

To pay homage to the history of the parcel, the name Blue Jay Park is being looked at by Scannell as a tribute to the Schenectady Blue Jays, a minor league baseball team that played at the former McNearney Stadium, which occupied the site into the 1950s when it became Stadium Golf Course.





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