Vacant Building Draining Taxpayer Wallets

There’s a vacant building sitting on Erie Boulevard in Schenectady. It’s a big building: the former TrustCo Bank headquarters.

So, what? Empty buildings in urban environments aren’t exactly unusual.

Turns out, though, this building is owned by Schenectady County. I came across a story by Greg Floyd on WRGB with further detail. I got a kick out of this snippet from the story:

It was purchased by Schenectady County in 2005 and five years later — the building just sits there — a six-story monument to government waste.

“Monument to government waste.” Can we get that put on a sign in front of the building? Maybe in neon? Then we could add the neon “vacancy” sign below that.

Apparently it was purchased for a mere $2.4 million with the intent to use it for some county offices. But that’s become too expensive, at least according to statements in the story by Susan Savage, chair of the legislature. She did “reassure” taxpayers that the building will be put to good use in the future. Really? Five years later we can be reassured of that?

I also came across this statement under a description of the Department of Engineering’s programs on Schenectady County’s website:

Design development and drawings: Major County facility projects including Trustco Building, the Courthouse, County Airport, Social Services site analysis and the Central Library expansion.

I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds expensive.

While I applaud Mr. Floyd for reporting on this story, I think the story is missing a few questions:

  • Is the building being maintained?
  • If so, what does that cost?
  • If not, what will it cost to repair/renovate it in the future?
  • What is the fiscal impact of its removal from the tax rolls?

Anybody need a big empty office building? It’s not like the county is using it.

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