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Albany Med Expansion Plans
Correction: the first posting of this story identified Michael McGovern as the president of the Park South Neighborhood Association. He is the vice president.
Albany's planning board got the official word at its meeting Thursday night: The developers of the Park South urban renewal plan want to construct taller buildings, a larger parking garage and more apartments than was previously known.
During the meeting, several members of the public and some common council members told the board their wishes for how the plan should proceed.
Some called for attention to the preservation of gardens and other "green space", public safety and an open mind toward the construction of more dwellings after this project is complete.
The project includes 3-story residential buildings, 5-story and 6-story mixed-use buildings a medical office building, apartments, retail space, parking lots and a parking garage to hold 875 cars. It encompasses nine blocks that are between Madison Avenue and Myrtle Avenue.
The principals behind the project are Albany Medical Center, Columbia Development and Tri-City Rentals. The project engineer who spoke for the developers at the meeting, Daniel Hershberg said some changes had been proposed based on input from the public, including the plan to set back the garage forty feet from Myrtle Avenue.
The concern for public safety was expressed by council member Dominick Calsolaro, who suggested 6-story buildlings along New Scotland venue would create a "cavern" effect for pedestrians, reducing visibility and increasing the likelihood of crime. Michael McGovern, the vice president of the Park South Neighborhood Association, suggested building setbacks might help mitigate that potential problem. Calsolaro suggested upper-story apartments come with balconies looking over New Scotland Avenue.
Council member Leah Golby, while expressing support and excitement for the project, read a letter from people who live in that area saying increased traffic is a concern and comparing part of Robin Street to a thruway exit ramp once the garage opens.
Charles Touhey, a home builder, suggested the planning board "look at the big picture" and consider the project a first phase, suggesting a good second phase would be the construction of owner-occupied properties.
The planning board took no action on the proposal. The matter will come up again at city hall in October.