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Busy at the Riverfront

Tenants flow into former Amsterdam Mall

April 13, 2008
By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald
AMSTERDAM — Later this month, there will be a ribbon cutting at the Riverfront Center — not for one tenant, but for 15.

Among the new tenants are a podiatrist, a dance company, an assemblyman’s office, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, PJ’s Cafe, Eastern Medical Support, Casa Bella Realty, Global Scanning Solutions and retailers.

“We decided to have a joint ribbon cutting the end of April,” Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce President Deborah Auspelmyer said.

Auspelmyer said the variety of businesses moving to the mall is a good sign of things to come.

Riverfront Center Lease Manager Peter E. Capobianco, former CEO of St. Mary’s Hospital, said the center isn’t a retail mall anymore.

“There are 14 doctors here,” he said. “It’s become professional and health-centered.”

He said when the mall fell to 30 percent occupation in the early 1990s, there was a stigma attached to the center. That stigma no longer is there, he said.

“Now it has become prestigious,” Capobianco said. “It’s a safe place with 24-hour security, a good place to do business, and we have our own in-house construction to do fit-ups for tenants on our nickel.”

Capobianco said the 255,000-square-foot building owned by Amsterdam native John Tesiero is 77 percent occupied now with 50 tenants. He said the change from retail to professional orientation of tenants wasn't planned, “it just happened.”

“We feel people are beginning to recognize the downtown to be a focal point for the community,” he said. “We are doing well. It is a safe place to be.”

Fulton-Montgomery Community College seemed to agree with Capobianco’s assessment. Its satellite office is in the lower level at the center for afternoon and evening classes.

“The Riverfront Center has exceeded our expectations in our first semester there,” FMCC President Dustin Swanger said. “We have 12 classes and 158 registrations through the office there.”

Swanger said he felt the location was “very successful.”

“The community support has been very strong,” Swanger said.

Sean Piasecki, president of Eastern Medical Support, said his business moved to the center in March from its former location at 180 Market St. He said it was a good choice.

He said the services EMS provide can be delivered on site. He said the Riverfront Center

offers Empire Zone incentives and competitive leasing.

Rent at the center is between $9 and $12 per square foot, depending on the accommodations the center has to make for the tenant, said Kathy Bonfey, secretary at the center’s leasing office.

Piasecki said he pays between $500 and $800 per month for his 1,000 square feet of space. He would not provide a specific amount. He said the rent was negotiated partly in anticipation of future growth.

“Obviously, a business like PJ’s Cafe is in that space and will probably remain so, so they would negotiate differently,” he said.

Piasecki said the Empire Zone benefits allow him to buy office furniture free of sales tax.

“That can be a significant savings,” he said.

Other examples of zone benefits include no tax on utility bills, no sales tax on capital improvements and no sales tax on uniforms, Bonfey said.

At Global Scanning Solutions, CEO Travis Byers said the No. 1 reason for his moving to the center was cost.

“The rent was cheap and the quality of service has been great,” Byers said. “They have been very helpful here.”

Byers said his document management business has gained visibility at the center.

“They’ve been great about getting the word out,” Byers said. “Word of mouth is always the best advertisement anyway.”

With all the new businesses and professional offices at the center, the owners of PJ’s Cafe decided to open at the center as well.

“With over 500 people in the building and so few options for eating, it seemed like a good idea,” co-owner Ginny March said.

She and her partner, Pam Shelly, said they wanted to offer food for breakfast and lunch during the week.

“I’ve lived in Amsterdam most of my life and I’ve seen a lot of food places in and out of here over the years,” March said. “I thought the right business with the right management can be so good here.”

Shelly and March said they’re pleased with the center’s management.

Robin Raciborski, owner of Casa Bella Realty, which is at the center, likes the location.

“It’s close to the [Thruway] and has ample parking with high visibility.

“I’ve already got new clients because of being in the mall,” she said.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

The Amsterdam Riverfront Center entrance

Fact Box

New tenants

According to Lease Manager Peter Capobianco, the following 15 new tenants have moved into the Riverfront Center in the last year:

• Dr. Paul Baumgarten, a podiatrist sharing space with Dr. Ike Boka, who specializes in pain management.

• St. Mary’s Hospital Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

• Nothing But Nice Next to New, offering plus-size clothing for women.

• Eastern Medical Support.

• Sofa Warehouse.

• The Gazette Newspapers.

• Jubilee Fellowship.

• Global Scanning Solutions.

• The Dance Company.

• St. Mary’s Hospital Patient Services.

• Assemblyman George Amedore’s Montgomery County office.

• Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

• Need and Necessities, political consultants and book sales.

• Casa Bella Realty.

• PJ’s Cafe.



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