Friday afternoon, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden issued a statement saying the controversial plans to build a Bow Tie Cinema movie theater at One Monument Square were dead. Now, across the Hudson River, Cohoes is hoping to land the theater.
Madden’s office said the plans were scrapped “as a result of multiple and ongoing legal actions brought by a neighboring property owner against the city.”
Since the former city hall was razed in 2011, Troy has been looking to fill the prime piece of open space. Months of public discussion over a proposed 11-screen Bow Tie Cinema theater complex ensued, until a suit filed by developer Sam Judge effectively halted plans to build the complex.
Judge has had an up-and-down relationship with Troy for many years. Monday Judge went on record claiming a city official threatened his ability to do business with Troy if he didn't drop his September lawsuit calling for an environmental review of the site while arguing that traffic and parking would present problems at One Monument Square.
An official with Bow Tie tells the Times Union it backed away from Troy because it "didn't see an end to the lawsuits."
Judge did not return a call for comment.
Upon announcing the theater project had crashed and burned, first-term Democrat Mayor Madden said his administration still hoped to bring Bow Tie to the Collar City in the future. Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello tells WAMC she had some concerns about the project from the onset... "...that I voiced regarding the potential park/land issue at the site, and the architecture, the look of the building, the cinema fit in with the landscape of the downtown, but I gotta tell you I was very very hopeful that these issues would be overcome and that we would put the property back on the tax roll and it would be a successful development. I was extremely disappointed when Bow Tie pulled out, and I quite frankly, I really was under the thinking that these issues would have been worked out."
Mantello, a Republican, dashed a letter off to Madden and the City Council proposing a "Special Committee for the Future of One Monument Square.” She suggests the group "would be comprised of residents, business people and others with expertise in the development of vacant property" in Troy.
Mantello further proposes "a cleanup of the existing site so that it is not an eyesore to those who work and travel in the downtown. This could include new fencing, clean fill, and other appropriate amenities."
Madden spokesman John Salka says Troy must move forward. "A key component of successfully redeveloping the One Monument Square is the utilization of the available state grant funding. By effectively utilizing this funding the administration and the city can support the growth of Troy and enhance the valuable community assets like our waterfront and our walkable downtown. Currently, the administration is examining a number of options, including Riverfront Park access and expansion and possibly in conjunction with stage development, to prepare the site for future public or private development."
Meanwhile, Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse is seizing the moment to further plans to rebuild that city's cultural district: "You know we're a city that's workin' really hard to reinvent ourselves and return our city to the days of glory. We wanna offer the opportunity to Bow Tie to come to our city and see all the great things that we have to offer, see all of the things that they're hearing about Cohoes, and I think it's a great opportunity for Bow Tie and certainly a great opportunity for the citizens of Cohoes, New York."
Dave Lucas : "Have you or someone in your administration contacted Bow Tie yet about this?"
"Well you know, our press release and talking to you, this is our invitation, so if Bow Tie is listening to the radio, we are asking you to come to our city and walk with us and look at all of the great opportunities and see why Cohoes is the fastest growing city in the state of New York."
No one from Bow Tie has responded to requests for comment as to whether it might seek an alternate location elsewhere in the Capital Region.