July 17, 2012

Now arriving at Union Station: businesses

By: Brian Nearing

Source: Times Union

ALBANY — A project to transform the former Union Station into a nanotechnology hub is seeking $5 million in state support from the eight-county Capital Region Economic Development Council.

An application filed Monday will help "attract additional partner companies" to move into the rehabilitated station on Broadway, said Steve Janack, vice president for marketing and communication for the UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

That same day, the nanocollege announced that the engineering firm CHA, formerly known a Clough Harbour & Associates, had agreed to lease 10,000 square feet of the 100,000-square-foot building, which has been empty since early 2010 when Bank of America pulled out during the depths of the recession.

Janack said the CHA deal, which is being financed by the company, is not tied to the effort to obtain state funds to support the project. CHA will move 30 of its top executives into the building by the end of the year.

The nanocollege holds the lease on Union Station from a New York City-based real estate investment trust.

"This funding would "significantly accelerate the rehabilitation" of the former station, which is also known as Kiernan Plaza, so named for the former chairman of Norstar Bank, whose company purchased and renovated the decaying station in the mid-1980s.

This is the second time state funding has been sought for the project under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's regional economic development councils, which are meant to support projects that can have the most impact on job creation in the state.

Earlier this year, the state Capital Region council passed on a $4 million application for the project.

On Monday, the nanocollege also announced an agreement with Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, an Albany-based, not-for-profit social services agency that promotes inner-city education, to create nano-related education and job training for students involving both the college and CHA.

The partnerships with CHA and Trinity will focus on "smart cities" technologies, including sensors and computer chips, integrated systems and operating software to collect and analyze data for such applications as highway conditions, infrastructure like bridges and utilities, and security for educational settings.