As one of the premier small cities in the country, Albany has taken the lead in waterfront development along the Hudson. Not only does the City enjoy a growing and thriving Port, it also has miles of Hudson Riverfront available for recreational purposes.
In order to manage the project, Albany's mayor, Jerry Jennings, turned to the Albany Port District Commission. Intimately familiar with the waterfront and the engineering issues needed to develop it, the APDC was the ideal choice for this task. The Commission also managed all the financing with the Albany Industrial Development Agency and the Albany Local Development Corporation to raise the $4.4 millions in bonds that were needed to complete the project.
The riverfront development project is part of the Master Plan for the Corning Preserve, a beautifully natural stretch of land between the downtown business district which is bordered by I-787, a major roadway, and the river. The project site encompasses approximately 4.3 acres of parkland in the southern part of the Preserve. Corning Preserve was named for Albany's long-tenured mayor, Erastus Corning III who served as head of this municipality for 41 years.
The development of this land includes a new amphitheater, pedestrian walkway and bike trail, floating boat docks and a new visitors center. But before anything could happen, the shoreline needed to be stabilized. The Port Commission oversaw the construction of two separate and distinct bulkhead walls that provide visitors a closer vantage point directly adjacent to the river's edge.
Once complete, construction began on the amphitheater that will accommodate in excess of 1,000 people 400 on its concrete seat walls and an estimated 600 on the lawn above. The amphitheater focuses on river views and provides a flexible stage area for diverse, non-ticketed events. It is also the first area people see when they walk over the City's new Riverway Pedestrian bridge which spans I-787.
A new Visitors Center will also be built and will include space for displays, information and public restrooms. The Visitors Center plaza will accommodate bus pick up and drop off in a shaded and attractive area that will also boast an information kiosk.
The Pedestrian Walkway and Bike Trail will realign the Preserve's existing multi-use path which is part of the 5 mile Corning Fitness Trail. The new trail, like the old path, will be part the 35-mile paved Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, which runs from the Corning Preserve north and west to the Town of Rotterdam on the Mohawk River, in adjacent Schenectady County.
In order to enhance the recreational enjoyment of the Hudson, the riverfront development project will also include seasonal boat docks which will be attached to the bulkhead. Whether its handling cargo or beautifying the riverfront, the Albany Port District Commission is proud of its role in making the Capital Region a better place to live.