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President's View Mail Class Notes Features

Reinventing Troy


Photo by Mark McCarty

As efforts to revitalize the Collar City see results, real estate developers, entrepreneurs, artists — and Rensselaer — are investing in the future of Troy as never before.

By Tim O'Brien

Sandy Horowitz says he was a “kid in a candy store” when he first went shopping for real estate in Troy. The Hollywood film producer and developer (below) had sold buildings he owned in New York City and, for tax purposes, needed to buy an equal amount of property elsewhere. He decided to look upstate, and a broker brought him to Troy.

The Long Island native was so impressed with the available real estate that he snapped up six large buildings including three of the city’s major landmarks: the Hendrick Hudson Building, the Cannon Building, and the Keenan Building, all on or near Monument Square.

He currently is renovating Cannon, installing granite countertops and converting the top three floors into long-term suites for visiting Rensselaer and Russell Sage College professors. The building also will house a spa on the second floor and a cybercafe on the ground floor. In December, he purchased the Marvin-Neitzel Building, a large River Street warehouse near the Troy marina, which he plans to convert to New York City-style loft apartments.

“I think we can open the doors and create the opportunities,’’ Horowitz says. “I think the opportunities are there, and anyone can see them.”

“He is really taking a very active role in learning about the history of Troy,” says Linda Hillman, president of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, who works out of one of Horowitz’s buildings.

She noted the developer is renovating an apartment in the city to live in part-time. “He’s not just coming, buying it, flipping it, and leaving it.’’

* Sandy Horowitz

Sandy Horowitz
Photo by Mark McCarty

Grace Liney, owner of the upscale women’s clothing store State of Grace, located in the State Street side of the Cannon building, says it took an outsider like Horowitz to help people realize the city’s potential.

“We’ve always had this gem; we’ve just been waiting for someone to find it,” she says.

Horowitz is one of many businesspeople who are discovering — and realizing — the potential of Troy. He joins a host of developers, planners, and visionaries who are aiming to recreate Troy as a 21st-century city that honors and builds on its past:
  • Developer John Hedley has purchased five connected buildings called the Market Square Block at the corner of River, Fulton, and Third streets. He is planning upscale retail stores on the first floor and a jazz club and wedding banquet facilities upstairs. Hedley has a solid track record, having taken two former factories and converted them into thriving office centers, one of which contains 75 staff from Rensselaer’s Division of Institute Advancement.
  • Along a two-block stretch of River Street, storefronts that were empty a decade ago are now filled with antiques shops that draw visitors from near and far. It has been named “Antiques Row,” and more than 40 antique dealers sell their wares there.
  • Residents from the newly named Little Italy in South Troy to Washington Park, from the Pottery District to North Central, are reviving neighborhood groups and seeking to restore pride in the community.
  • The Rensselaer campus is in the midst of a historic building boom, with the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center expected to attract both new jobs and new visitors.
  • A group of eager merchants is cooperating with each other in an effort to draw in customers, holding “Las Vegas Nights” and other promotions.

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Rensselaer Magazine: Spring 2004
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

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