Former DiSiena Furniture eyed for start-up space

DiSiena Furniture, at 500 Round Lake Road in Mechanicville, is seen on Aug. 30.

PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBERDiSiena Furniture, at 500 Round Lake Road in Mechanicville, is seen on Aug. 30. PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER

By Stephen Williams

Gazette Reporter

MECHANICVILLE — The former DiSiena Furniture headquarters and warehouse on Round Lake Avenue would be converted to house start-up manufacturing companies, under a proposal before the Mechanicville-Stillwater Industrial Development Agency.

Precision Valve & Automation, of Cohoes, wants to take over the DiSiena facility, where the family-owned furniture store operated for 70 years before closing in early November.

Precision Valve and its founder, Tony Hynes, want to repurpose the 75,000 square feet of office space, retail space and warehouse as an “entrepreneur space” for companies developing machinery and software and providing technical support services. Child care and health care services would be provided on-site.

From the IDA, Precision Valve & Automation is seeking economic development tax incentives estimated to be worth $600,000 over 10 years. The IDA has the power to grant such breaks as an incentive for businesses to come to the city.

Mayor Dennis Baker said he supports the project and believes granting an incentive package is preferable to having the former furniture center — prominent at the city’s Route 67 western entrance — sit vacant for an extended period.

“We’re kind of excited about it. We’re hoping they may help with attracting some of these small businesses,” Baker said. “We felt horrible after the loss of DiSiena. They were good people, but it was time for them to retire, and we were nervous about what would happen there.”

Former city accounts commissioner Mark Seber, who joined Baker in a recent tour of Precision’s Cohoes facility, said the city — once a major papermaking and railroad center, though its fortunes have declined — has long wanted to attract startups, especially in manufacturing.

“I think this community will lend itself to this kind of entrepreneurial business,” Seber said. “We have plenty of space. The rents are low.”

Small companies that, between them, would provide 12 jobs are already signed up, assuming they can move in this summer, according to the Saratoga Economic Development Corp., whose officials are helping Precision through the application process.

The SEDC, one of Saratoga County’s two economic development organizations, said Precision Valve is expected to invest $3.9 million in the facility, including a $1.6 million purchase price and an estimated $2.2 million in renovations.

Precision Valve was located at an industrial park in Halfmoon from 1998 to 2010, and continues to own that building, which it is leasing to small manufacturing operations. SEDC President Dennis A. Brobston said the proposal for the DiSiena site would expand Precision’s support for startups.

“Since my time as a startup at the RPI incubator, I have always wanted to create a business incubator of my own,” Hynes said in a prepared statement. “I know first-hand how difficult startup is, and my hope is that we create an environment which allows entrepreneurs to succeed faster and with less risk.”

“He knows a lot of people who have manufacturing ideas, and he has the machinery and the machine time and provides subsidized rent,” Brobston said.

The only potential issue Brobston said he was aware of was that the soil under the building could be contaminated from the neighboring historic railroad yard. He said that’s being explored.

The Mechanicville-Stillwater IDA has received an initial presentation on the plan and will hold a public hearing on the proposed tax breaks at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Mechanicville Senior Center on North Main Street.

The tax incentives proposed include a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement estimated to be worth $564,250, and an exemption from sales tax on building materials estimated to be worth $78,386. Under the proposed PILOT, the property assessment would be frozen at the current $2 million, with no new investment being added to the assessment for 10 years.

Brobston said SEDC has had a relationship with Precision Valve since it helped finance the company’s relocation from an RPI incubator to its own building in Halfmoon in the 1990s.

“It is always a challenge as an economic developer to see a longtime company close its doors,” Brobston said. “What better way to reopen than with a proven team supporting a next-generation businesses putting down roots to grow here.”