Combined, the projects comprise an area called the “Bargain Block” that includes its Flanigan Square office building, other housing and parking lots.
First Columbia President Kevin Bette said the goal is to have a variety of uses and tenants in the North Central neighborhood, which has a high poverty rate.
“When I look at other communities and successful developments, they’ve been mixed-use,” Bette said. “It’s a change-maker. Hopefully we’re the catalyst to make a difference in the neighborhood.”
The nearly 30,000-square-foot fitness center would be built on a parking lot at 545 River St. on the south side of Flanigan Square, a former textile factory that was converted into offices. The facility would feature a large rock climbing wall along with cardiovascular machines and a weight room.
The building is designed to wrap around the rear of Flanigan Square and connect to a walkway the city will be extending along the Hudson River. The facility would be run by a company that Bette said “likes what’s happening in downtown.”
“It seems to be a great amenity for young professionals, which is what’s coming into the jobs in the city,” Bette said. “If you look at a lot of the tech markets, that is one of the amenities that is a draw. We’ve been trying to redevelop smart by adding amenities that make us more competitive to New York, Boston and other places.”
On the north side of Flanigan Square, First Columbia plans a 123-unit apartment complex for seniors on an empty lot at 549 River Street “One of the draws of senior housing is walking and access to food,” Bette said. “[Bargain Grocery] is going to be able to prepare food that can be delivered to the residents. We’re working out a nice synergy.”
First Columbia also owns 462 spaces in existing surface lots that it says would be sufficient for the new construction and office tenants at Flanigan Square, along with on-street parking.