CITY OF ALBANY, NEW
In the spring of 1994, Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings called on business, government and neighborhood leaders, and citizens in general, to help in formulating a development strategy that would lead his 300-plus-year-old City into the new millennium. The alliance of public and private stakeholders that came together in response to his call established ACapitalize Albany,@ a comprehensive urban redevelopment plan.
Unveiled in 1996, the plan was designed to take maximum advantage of Albany's status as the State Capital, and maximum advantage of the City's existing strengths as a government and financial center, to attract retail and other business expansion, tourism and housing. Central to the Capitalize Albany plan is the forging of partnerships between the City and private sector leaders committed to marshaling the resources necessary to realize the goals of the plan.
From the outset, KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP, has been an integral player in the development of the Capitalize Albany plan, its executives working closely with City officials and the other private stakeholders involved. In 1997, KPMG took its commitment to Albany a step further: In need of additional office space for its own employees, and faced with the option of moving to potentially less expensive suburban offices, its executives sat down with the Mayor and other City officials to fashion a creative way to stay in the downtown area and continue to be part of the City's renaissance.
Working in conjunction with City and State officials, a unique business partnership was developed: KPMG committed to remaining downtown and to taking an entire floor . 30,000 square feet . of a new headquarters office which the New York State Dormitory Authority contemplated building on a vacant parcel of land in the center of the City's business and retail district. The site, which had been vacant for over 20 years, was viewed by many in the City as a tangible symbol of urban downtown decline. KPMG's commitment to leasing this space through a condominium arrangement with the Albany Local Development Corporation was key to the Dormitory Authority's decision to construct their 180,000 square foot headquarters on this site.
As a result of this unique partnership, which created the first private condominium office space in a State-owned facility, over 350 Dormitory Authority employees and 155 KPMG employees now occupy a new building. Completed and opened in 1997, the building cost approximately $25 million and its construction generated 750 jobs. More importantly, however, private sector developers and investors saw this project as evidence that the Capitalize Albany plan was real.
KPMG's commitment was clearly an important catalyst for the additional development that has resulted since the construction of their new corporate offices: To date, new projects worth more than $400 million have entered the planning stage; it is expected that these projects will produce over 5,000 jobs for Albany's downtown business, retail and entertainment district.
Future projects include the completion of more than $10 million in infrastructure repairs, the construction of a new pedestrian bridge that will link downtown to the City's historic waterfront, and the creation of an entertainment corridor that will include an IMAX theater, a multi-media center, and a renovated performing arts center.
Mayor Jennings is pleased that the collective leadership and vision that was channeled into Capitalize Albany has resulted in the Capital of New York State being viewed once again as a place of economic opportunity and cultural vibrancy, as a city where retail and entertainment opportunities exist in an environment that has demonstrated its adaptability to changing social, technological and economic forces.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.