The Town of Guilderland changed zoning laws in 2018 which allows the Pyramid Companies (the owners of Crossgates Mall) to intensely develop on Rapp Road and the Mall Ring Road.
Pyramid has already built one large hotel and is now seeking approval to build in total 360 apartments, 278,900 sq ft of commercial space, and 50,000 sq ft of office space on Rapp Road and the Mall Ring Road.
The first phase of this new development is to build two 5-story apartment buildings and three 2-story townhouse buildings with a total of 222 units and 405 parking spaces on nearly 20 acres of land on Rapp Road which is currently designated as partially protected for the Albany Pine Bush.
There is also another proposal to build a Costco Wholesale big box store with 700 parking spaces and a 16 pump gas station on another approximately 17 acre parcel south of the apartment complex on Rapp Road between Western Avenue and the Mall Ring Road.
The 20 acres of land to be developed for apartments is directly adjacent to a fully protected wildlife corridor and development of it could further endanger habitat of the federally protected Karner Blue Butterfly and 79 Species of Greatest Conservation Need that have been observed in the Albany Pine Bush. (In the video we say 45 species, but since creating the video we have learned that 79 species have been observed. We currently do not know how many of these species can be found on the properties to be developed.)
This development and the traffic it will definitely bring with it will also directly affect the quality of life in all of the nearby neighborhoods in Guilderland and Albany.
If these proposed projects and future unannounced Pyramid projects are completed, the already severe traffic congestion will be exacerbated in the Rapp Road Historic District and local neighborhoods. Home prices will be negatively impacted, local schools will become more strained for resources, sewer and water resources will likely need to be upgraded, and police and emergency services will have to increase staff.
To fight this development, the organizations of Save The Pine Bush and Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth are working to together and we need to raise at least $100,000 as soon as possible to hire scientists and legal experts to review and respond to the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) written by the Pyramid Companies and to challenge the expected final approval by the Guilderland Planning Board in the early months of 2020.
Qualified experts are needed to assess the direct traffic implications, the effect of increased noise levels, decreased air quality, and the visual impact of the project on the immediate local neighborhoods in Guilderland and Albany.
Environmental scientists are needed to assess the impact of the development and traffic on wildlife and to assess the expected water, air and light pollution on the ecosystem. Wildlife biologists are needed to testify about the effect of the proposed development on the Federally Endangered Karner Blue Butterfly and the 79 other Species of Greatest Conservation Need that inhabit the area’s rare inland pine barrens habitat.
This project is just the next phase of development from Pyramid in this area around Crossgates Mall, which recently completed opening a large 5-story hotel between the Mall Ring Mall and Western Avenue in front of the Crossgates Mall. Future development as described by Pyramid in their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) also includes:
• A third 5-Story apartment building with 90 more units and associated parking on the 20 acre lot that is currently designated for partial protection as described above. This would be a total of 312 apartment units.
• An additional 115,000 sq ft of retail space, 50,000 sq ft of office space, and 48 multi-family apartments between the current hotel and the proposed Costco.
This is just part of the story of development in Guilderland. There are additional intense development plans in Guilderland with more than 1,400 proposed apartments, townhouses and single family homes. Many of them within just three miles from Crossgates and the Pine Bush Preserve.
For over 2 decades, the Pyramid group has been buying land surrounding Crossgates Mall and evicting renters from homes in an effort to reduce property prices to help them continue to gobble up cheaper land. They used many LLC’s with different names and forced home owners to sign non-disclosure agreements so they could “secretly” acquire more land around the mall. Pyramid was able to convince Guilderland town officials to change zoning laws (primarily where they own land) to allow them to build massive buildings at a scale and scope that has never been seen before in Guilderland.
Together we can protect the schools, home prices, and the quality of life of residents in the local neighborhoods as well as the Federally Endangered Karner Blue Butterfly and the 79 other Species of Greatest Conservation Need that live in and around the Pine Bush.
We need your help to Save the Pine Bush and the neighborhoods of Guilderland and Albany from this intense development.
Thanks in advance for helping us Save The Pine Bush, Protect Our History and Our Community!
Background on the Albany Pine Bush
The Albany Pine Bush, referred to locally as the Pine Bush, is one of the largest of the 20 inland pine barrens in the world. It is centrally located in New York's Capital District within Albany and Schenectady counties, between the cities of Albany and Schenectady. The Albany Pine Bush was formed thousands of years ago, following the drainage of Glacial Lake Albany.
The Albany Pine Bush is the sole remaining undeveloped portion of a pine barrens that once covered over 40 square miles. Today the Albany Pine Bush only spans a mere 5 square miles and is "one of the best remaining examples of an inland pine barrens ecosystem in the world" according to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.
It is home to 79 Species of Greatest Conservation Need and the Karner Blue Butterfly which was classified as an endangered species in 1992. The Albany Pine Bush was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 2014.
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