Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 11, June 15, 2012
Mark Century

Chasan Building Renovation Brings a Piece of History Back To Life in Downtown Troy

Photo by Martin Benjamin

Chasan Building Renovation Brings a Piece of History Back To Life in Downtown Troy

Beginning in the mid 1800s, the Chasan Building at the intersection of Fourth Street and Broadway served as the site for an iron storehouse, a public school, and a series of light industrial ventures before the building was used for commercial and retail businesses in the early 20th century. After more than 150 years of residing on an architecturally diverse streetscape in the center of the city of Troy’s historic district, the Chasan Building was the site of a ribbon cutting on May 24 at which Rensselaer and Columbia Development Companies unveiled the project that has converted the building into office space for the Rensselaer Institute Advancement team.

“The Institute is a committed, long-term partner in the revitalization of downtown Troy,” said President Shirley Ann Jackson. “The adaptive re-use of the Chasan Building is an important step in continuing the renaissance of downtown Troy—a renaissance that the university is proud to help catalyze. As leaders seek new economic development opportunities across the state and the Capital Region, we rely on creative public-private partnerships, as exemplified by this collaboration among Rensselaer, the city of Troy, New York state, and Columbia Development.”

before   after  

The Chasan Building serves as an example of the Greek Revival style, and has managed to retain its integrity of location, setting, association, materials, workmanship, feeling, and design.

In addition, Chasan is a contributing building in the Central Troy Historic District that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. 

The overall project cost was approximately $6 million, including a $1.2 million Restore New York grant from Empire State Development.

The building underwent a complete renovation and modernization, including a new roof, historic replica windows, restored exterior masonry, and the reconstruction of the original circa-1850 arched carriageway opening that will serve as the new main entrance to the building.

Rensselaer acquired Chasan and the nearby Proctor’s Theatre in 2002 at the request of state and local officials to steward the properties and to help develop an effective, sustainable redevelopment plan. Since then, Rensselaer has invested nearly $1.5 million in the stabilization of Proctor’s Theatre and stewardship of both buildings. Last fall, Rensselaer announced an agreement with Columbia Development Companies to assume ownership and begin work on Proctor’s Theatre and Chasan.

In commemorating the opening of the newly renovated building, President Jackson was joined by local and state officials, area business leaders, members of the campus community, and representatives from the project development team, including Columbia Development Companies, BBL Construction, and the architectural firm Woodward Connor Gillies& Seleman.

Rensselaer will become the sole tenant of Chasan. Rensselaer will lease the building and relocate the Institute Advancement team from its current location in the Hedley Building to Chasan to handle expected growth in that organization, bringing about 72 employees into the heart of downtown Troy.
“Columbia Development is committed to helping redevelop, in a responsible manner, the historic fabric of Troy,” said Joe Nicolla ’79, a partner in Columbia Development Companies. “This project is especially gratifying to several of our project team including Tom Keaney, Columbia Development, Kevin Gleason, BBL Construction Services, and Kurt Woodward and Greg Seleman, Woodward Connor Gillies & Seleman Architects, as we are all graduates of RPI and are privileged to be working with our prestigious alma mater. This project continues our commitment to the redevelopment of Troy as we finish our fifth project in approximately five years, with expenditures in excess of $80 million.” 

Rensselaer’s tenancy in Chasan is the latest in a long series of actions by the university to help bring about the renaissance of downtown Troy. Since 2000, Rensselaer has brought nearly 200 employees into downtown Troy to work at the Hedley, Rice, and Gurley buildings—paying nearly $1 million annually in rent.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 11, June 15, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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