Metroplex Board Approves Projects to Bring Three New Businesses to Downtown Schenectady

Board also Approves Grant for Trail Signs and Starts Land Sale Process

April 9, 2024

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The Metroplex Board has approved three projects downtown, funding for new signs on the Empire State Trail and started the process for selling a small parcel of land on the Broadway corridor.

The first project involves converting the vacant JoJo’s Garage at 421 Union Street into a new restaurant.  The vacant garage is at the prominent corner at the intersection of Union Street and North Jay Street.  The new establishment will be called JoJo’s Tap Room honoring the long-standing business that operated at this location.  The developer is Terry Aldrich, owner of the Backstage Pub and grandson of JoJo, the late garage owner.  A total of almost $400,000 will be invested to renovate the building and site to include a large outdoor patio.  Philips Restoration of Schenectady will perform the work.  The Bank of Greene County is financing the project and Metroplex is providing a $40,000 façade grant. Mr. Aldrich is also renovating the adjoining building at 417 Union Street.

Terry Aldrich said, “I wanted to keep JoJo’s legacy going with a restaurant in honor of my grandfather, keeping the same name as I have the original building signage.  We are excited to get moving on this project.”

Two other new retailers will open on Jay Street.  Bashir Chedrawee, owner of Simone’s Kitchen on Jay Street, will expand operations downtown by opening Connie’s Creative Market and Connie’s Confectionary at 131 and 133 Jay Street.  The two buildings will be connected so that customers can sample the works of artisans at the new maker’s space while enjoying baked goods, desserts and ice cream at the adjoining baker’s space. The total project investment is $155,000.  Metroplex is providing a $35,000 grant toward project costs.

Bashir Chedrawee said, “Schenectady is the premier destination in the Capital Region for arts, entertainment, and culture, and there’s no better showcase for our local artistic talent than right here in the Jay Street Marketplace. Our aim with Connie’s is to create a vibrant space for local creators, makers, and bakers to gain the visibility they deserve, offering a unique experience for art lovers and food enthusiasts alike to enjoy the creativity of the region. We are grateful that this is made possible through the support and partnership of Metroplex and cannot wait to see this come to life.”

Metroplex also approved a grant of $30,000 to Schenectady County to cover the cost of producing and installing 12 new interpretative signs to be placed along the Empire State Trail which runs for 22 miles along the riverfront. Images for the new signs can be found here:

Todd Garofano, Executive Director of Discover Schenectady said, “Thanks to this funding from Metroplex, visitors will now view interpretive signage along key points of the trail throughout Schenectady County, sharing our rich history through imagery and storytelling. QR codes on the signs will direct visitors to nearby restaurants, hotels, attractions and local businesses as well.”

Finally, Metroplex has started the state-mandated process for disposition of real property for fair market value.  The .02-acre lot is vacant and is not being used by Metroplex.  It is located at the southwest side of Van Guysling Avenue. The prospective purchaser, Highbridge BW LLC., an affiliated entity of Highbridge Development, owns the adjacent 0.7-acre parcel. Highbridge intends to merge the parcels and use the combined lot for additional parking for the company’s major office building holdings on Broadway including the new NYS Lottery/Gaming Commission headquarters.

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