By Susan Elise Campbell
A new project in the Luther Forest Technology Campus in inching closer as Scannell Properties awaits approval on a zoning amendment that would allow it to build five structures on the campus’ most desirable acreage.
“Scannell connected with the owners of the tech campus property and started learning about its history and vision to see how we might get involved as a speculative developer,” said Zachary Zweifler, development manager at the Indianapolis-based company.
Job creation from potential is estimated at 2,500, but they may have little to do with microchip production nearby, officials said.
Of the 1,400-plus acres that have been available for new projects since GlobalFoundries opened its doors, Scannell is focusing on 245 cleared acres off Stonebreak Road. There is infrastructure in place and it represents the last remaining brownfield space, according to Zweifler.
The Luther Forest Technology Campus was designed to help establish New York as a leader in the semiconductor industry and is thus zoned for technology use. Scannell’s vision is to “open up the park to additional areas, such as research and development, light manufacturing and warehousing,” Zweifler said. “The long vision is to broaden the scope of the park and this seemed to be the next logical phase of development.”
“We intend to purchase the land for speculative investment,” he said. “But the sale is conditional on approval of an amendment to the zoning requirements spelled out in the PDD.”
Zweifler said the formal application for amendment was submitted last fall and the process typically takes six months.
“Scannell drew up some conceptual plans to help the towns of Malta and Stillwater visualize our proposal,” he said. “These site plans also help assess individual users, the prospective tenants, going forward.”
Scannell has asked for several amendments to the Planned Development District, said Darren O’Connor, supervisor for the town of Malta, the agency taking the lead on the review.
O’Connor said the next steps include EPA reviews, traffic studies and whatever else the Town Board requires to make a final decision.
“The application will be examined against SEQRA (the State Environmental Quality Review Act) before adopting any changes,” he said.
SEQRA requires the all state and local government agencies consider environmental impacts against economic and social factors.
“This review will show what changes are possible and are not possible,” O’Connor said.
Some other developers previously had a variety of ideas for the available space, but O’Connor said he is “very happy to see this application.”
“This one application is very active and I believe we are working quickly” while performing all due diligence, he said.
“One concern is the footprint, because warehouse structures are large and changes to the footprint need to be permitted,” O’Connor said.
Speaking to the community impact of the proposed structure in Luther Forest Technology Campus, Zweifler said Scannell projects will invest $255 million to be equally matched by the tenants.
The firm expects 2,500 “family sustaining” employment opportunities with a median income of $55,000, which is close to the median in Saratoga County, according to Zweifler. Additionally, more than 3,000 indirect support jobs could ultimately be created.
If the amendment is granted, Scannell will begin bidding out construction locally and beyond.
“We will have proposals from local, regional and national contractors representing an estimated 940 jobs over five years,” Zweifler said. “We place an emphasis on local trades, regardless of who the general contractor is, and who businesses are maybe 10 to 15 minutes from the site.
“Scanned believes in the area and is going to purchase the land,” said Zweifler. “This is a good place to invest.”
“Scannell Properties has been developing industrial areas for 31 years and has decades of experience in the Capital Region,” Zweifler said.
The company built the ADT warehouse in West Albany Industrial Park in 2013 and the 1 million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Schodack that opened September. The developer also has a building for sale on speculation next to Amazon on Route 9.
Their projects are scattered among 43 other states, in Canada and, since 2018, in Europe.