One of the biggest downtown construction projects in years, the new $78.5 million Albany Capital Center has opened. A ribbon-cutting was held Wednesday.
"I am absolutely amazed at how beautiful this facility is. I've been a board member for the last several years and we never thought this day would ever come," said Assembly Member John McDonald. New York State Senator Neil Breslin chimed in: "It's a partnership. It took local, state government to come together, and build this project. And I think the result speaks for itself, and it's a great day for Albany, a great day for our future."
The idea for a downtown convention center was conceived back in the 1990s under then- Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed the project in 2013. Concept, promotion and design followed in 2014, and by 2016 construction was well under way. "I'm very excited. I'm very happy that we were able to bring it to fruition and it took a lot of years of planning. A lot of conversations and people deserve a lot of credit for making it happen. It's a transformational project for down here, it really is."
The Albany Capital Center is being hailed by County Executive Dan McCoy "as a showcase." "Mayor Jennings and Mike Breslin at the time had a vision, and myself, as County Executive and Kathy Sheehan continued on working with our state delegation, but most importantly, Governor Cuomo, believing in this project and the governor giving the money for this project is really what made it all happen. But now if you look at this Capital Center, and the Renaissance Hotel, what has happened to Wellington Row, the transformation we're doing at the Times Union Center, the convention center all tied in, and with the Palace Theatre doing their $60 million project, not only is this gonna be the place to live, it's gonna highlight the Capital District, not just Albany County. And that means one good thing to us: people are gonna come here, spend their money, our sales tax revenue's gonna go up, which is gonna be good for the taxpayers of Albany County."
The center is expected to have an estimated economic impact of $36 million a year, nearly $1 million annually for the state, county and city. Albany Convention Center Authority Chairman Gavin Donohue: "The Capital Center in total is 197,000 square feet. There's three levels of parking beneath us and there is also an enclosure that will allow you to drive from this garage into the Times Union Center garage. We can actually commute in between the two garages. That is a great feat in itself. There's 82,000 square feet of meeting space and conference space in this building. "
There's also a 3,000-square foot, full-service catering kitchen and the entire building is outfitted with state-of- the-art amenities for meetings, banquets and events. Mayor Kathy Sheehan hopes the Center boosts local businesses. "More restaurants, more small businesses, catering to the needs of people coming here for conventions. We're already seeing that downtown. You know, unique retail shops opening up. The coffee shops. The places where, when you come to a convention, and when you're here for meetings, you wanna stop in and really experience that local flavor."
The facility has booked 62 events to date. The Capital Center opens to the public this weekend coinciding with and as part of the MAAC Basketball Tournament at the Times Union Center.