Energy is there, says chief of planned redevelopment, but next step remains unclear
By CHRIS CHURCHILL, Business writer
First published in print: Friday, October 23, 2009
ALBANY -- The new head of the Harriman Research and Technology Corp. says the planned redevelopment of the state office campus in Albany is back on track, with a renewed energy and focus.
But Peter Wohl also indicated the next step in the long-stalled redevelopment effort is unclear.
The board overseeing the Harriman redevelopment might decide to award development rights to either of the local firms vying to build on the 330-acre campus near the University at Albany, he said.
But the board might also scrap those plans and issue yet another request for development proposals.
"The next big hurdle here is deciding on the development approach," said Wohl, who in June was selected for the Harriman post.
Last year, two development teams, one led by Columbia Development of Albany and the other by The Howard Cos. of Colonie, submitted detailed plans for campus development -- but the Harriman board never responded.
The board, in fact, this week met for the first time in 15 months, a long delay that again stalled the plan, first announced in 2003, to turn the Harriman State Office Campus into a hub for private and high-technology development.
Wohl conceded the delay was not productive, adding the board will meet again in about six weeks.
A subject likely to be discussed at that meeting is a proposal, unpopular with some Albany neighbors, to build a 500-bed University at Albany dormitory on the property.
Wohl said the project might fit into plans to turn the campus into a "live, work, play" area with round-the-clock activity. It might also provide a long hoped-for link between the two campuses.
"It's an interesting proposal," Wohl said, adding that "it's something the board is now discussing."