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By the Numbers: First Columbia Reshaping Troy’s Workforce

Hedley Building Annual Tenant Occupancy Report 2013

Call it a comeback.

First Columbia is showing a strong first quarter in 2014 occupancy levels at its Troy properties, following a banner year for attracting new tenants in 2013. The good news comes just one year after the state’s workforce consolidation plan removed more than 600 Department of Health jobs from First Columbia’s Hedley Park Place and Flanigan Square buildings.

Today, not only is the Hedley building once again approaching full occupancy, but the tenants there now represent a healthy mixture of education, healthcare, Fortune 500, high tech and professional companies, in addition to government offices.

Nine new leases, consisting of 144,000 square feet, and 45,540 square feet of renewals, bring the building to more than 86 percent occupied — a 13.6 percent increase from 2012. The building now serves as office space for more than 500 workers.

According to market research by global real estate firm CBRE, these positive results for Hedley buck the overall trend in the Capital Region as a whole, which saw area office vacancy rates remain steady or increase since 2012. In Troy, however, First Columbia’s rapid turnaround at its Hedley and Flanigan buildings helped bring the city’s vacancy rate down from 19 percent in 2012 to 10 percent in 2013, the lowest in the region according to CBRE.

“There was a sharp rise in occupancy rates in this city,” said Erin Pihlaja, executive director of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District. “Those numbers really support the fact that Troy is a desirable place to invest.”

As the following chart shows, the tenant mix at Hedley Park Place has shifted from heavily government-occupied in 2010 to a well-rounded mixture of industry types in 2014.

Hedley-Occupancy-Profile-2010-2014

Hedley building tenants now represent a healthy mixture of industries and professions. (After the State’s departure in the 3rd Quarter of 2012, First Columbia’s team hit the pavement working on attracting a strong tenant mix to help encourage growth in the city.)

“A diverse tenant mix, such as what we now have at Hedley, provides a more enjoyable experience for our tenants and promotes economic growth for our city,” said Victoria Harris, marketing director of First Columbia. “Our goal was to attract tenants from around the region, not simply lure them from other parts of Troy. Our focus was on professional and high tech companies.”

The following tenants relocated to Hedley Park Place in 2013: MacSource Communications, a business communications subsidiary of Meridian Group International; KW Mission Critical Engineering, International Data Center Engineers, Guth DeConzo Consulting Engineers; LinguaLinx Solutions, a multilingual marketing and technology services company; Capital District Educational Opportunity Center (EOC); Stockton Barker & Mead LLP, and Workforce Development Institute.

To attract these types of high quality tenants, First Columbia committed to investing $10 million to renovate the historic 1917 building, which once housed the Cluett Peabody shirt manufacturing company. This investment is paying off at Hedley Park Place and setting the tone for the rest of the city, as well. Not only are First Columbia’s tenants supporting the surrounding restaurants and business by patronizing them, but their presence is inspiring confidence in other entrepreneurs to set up shop in Troy. According to City Economic Development Coordinator Monica Kurzejeski, 35 new businesses opened in Troy in 2013 with a strong 2014 underway.

The city of Troy released its own report indicating the total dollar value of construction within its borders in 2013 rose by 10.5 percent over 2012, totaling nearly $51 million. This figure increased for the second consecutive year.

“The totals for the past two years are remarkable,” said Mayor Lou Rosamilia. “Almost $100 million in construction is an incredible amount and indicative of the interest investors have in Troy. Even more remarkable is the fact that the number has been contributed to by so many people and such a broad spectrum of projects.”

How First Columbia Got Here

In Dec. 2011, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s workforce consolidation plans, which included vacating 136,000 square feet of office rental space at Hedley Park Place and the adjacent Flanigan Square building along with properties located throughout New York State.

“Our property was heavily dependent on government leases at the time,” said Harris. “We were blindsided by the news that our state tenants would be leaving for Albany.”

Left with a vacancy rate of over 60 percent during a global economic crisis, First Columbia’s Troy properties were facing severe financial difficulties if something was done soon. But rather than throw in the towel, First Columbia partners Kevin Bette and Deborah Mikhitarian-Russell put together a plan in place to re-position the property.

Mikhitarian-Russell and her team initiated the first big step toward stabilization by persuading Troy’s city government to move into the fifth floor of Hedley. Since 2010, Troy’s “City Hall” has been without a permanent home. The city now has a 10-year lease, renewed every 2 years, for nearly 36,500 square feet in Hedley.

Next, First Columbia’s marketing and leasing team focused its efforts on bringing a diverse tenant mix to the Hedley Building through targeted campaigns. Their goal was to attract high tech and professional companies, whose employees are capable supporting the city and its economy. As the charts below confirm, the marketing worked.

Hedley-Tenants---10'-Occupancy-Pie-Chart

Government leases comprised 50% of Hedley building rents in 2010.

Hedley-Tenants-14'

Government leases comprise only 14% of Hedley building rents in 2014.

Meanwhile the property management team at Hedley achieved significant reductions in operating expenses to get the building through the cash crunch, while property maintenance and security kept up their high quality services that distinguish First Columbia from its competitors. The accounting department managed the complex process smoothly and drilled down on cost while also putting together a new financial model that helped to restructure First Columbia’s bank loan for its Troy properties.

In addition, First Columbia enlisted Troy author and public relations consultant Duncan Crary to generate positive news stories about the company’s Troy properties and vision to the national media. In October, 2013, Crary successfully “placed” a glowing three-page spread in the New York Daily News about Troy’s ongoing renaissance. The article, in the Fall Real Estate Preview section, featured a color photograph of Hedley Park Place and three paragraphs about First Columbia, including quotes by President & CEO Kevin Bette.

New York Daily News article featuring First Columbia's Troy, N.Y. properties.

New York Daily News article featuring First Columbia’s Troy, N.Y. properties.

And finally, First Columbia’s Construction Services team continued its top-notch level of performance, delivering beautiful new spaces to Hedley Park Place tenants. Their proactive approach to design allows tenants to update the look and feel of their office space while improving energy and cost, giving tenants the biggest bang for the buck.

What’s Next?

In 2006, First Columbia commissioned a master plan to redevelop roughly 25 city blocks surrounding its Hedley Park Place and Flanigan Square properties. Plans for “The Hedley District” include dozens of new office and condominium buildings, a seven-story hotel and a riverside promenade. After suffering a setback, those plans are now back in motion in 2014.

“Our goal is to help make Troy a place where you can truly live, work and play,” Harris said. “And that’s just what we’re doing.”

The Hedley District is a planned waterfront redevelopment project stretching over 800 feet of the Hudson River. When completed the development project will offer prime office space, retail, mixed use, residential units, parking, hotel, and more!

The Hedley District is a planned waterfront redevelopment project stretching over 800 feet of the Hudson River. When completed the development project will offer prime office space, retail, mixed use, residential units, parking, hotel, and more!

Troy’s Historic Smokestack Lights Up for Lymphoma

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Victoria Harris, (518) 213-1009 vharris@firstcolumbia.com

Troy’s Historic Smokestack Lights Up for Lymphoma

First Columbia uses Hedley Park Place to Raise Awareness for Blood Cancer

TROY. N.Y. (9/5/13) — The Hedley Park Place smokestack is one of the most recognizable features in the Capital Region skyline.

Hedley Park Place Smokestack, Troy, NY

Hedley Park Place Smokestack, Troy, NY

Throughout the month of September, the landmark structure in Troy will be illuminated by red lights as part of the national “Light it Red for Lymphoma” campaign of the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

The campaign asks the owners of iconic landmarks and buildings around the country to light them red during September, which is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, to raise awareness of the disease and to help provide hope to all those touched by lymphoma. (Sept. 15 is World Lymphoma Awareness Day.)

According to the Foundation, Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer in adults and the third most common cancer overall among children.

Some other facts provided by the foundation are that:

  • Every day, approximately 200 Americans are diagnosed with a type of lymphoma.

    That means that every 7 minutes someone is diagnosed with lymphoma.
  • More than half a million Americans are living with some form of lymphoma.
  • A cure for lymphoma can only be realized through advanced cancer research.

“Our smokestack, which is no longer operational, can be seen by tens of thousands of passing vehicles every day,” said Victoria Harris, marketing director of First Columbia. “We are very happy to help raise awareness for this important issue, while beautifying the night skyline of Troy.”

In 2008, First Columbia, which owns Hedley Park Place, partnered with collaborated with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center to highlight at night the architectural features of its historic Hedley and Flanigan Square buildings, and the adjacent seawall.

The Lymphoma Research Foundation is currently seeking other regional landmarks to participate in the September campaign.

PHOTO OF RED SMOKESTACK

For a high-resolution photograph of the Hedley Park Place smokestack illuminated at night, visit:
http://DuncanCrary.com/clients/FirstColumbia

ABOUT THE LYMPHOMA RESEARCH FOUNDATION

The Lymphoma Research Foundation is the nation’s largest non-profit lymphoma organization devoted to funding innovative research and providing people with lymphoma and healthcare professionals with critical information on the disease. To date, LRF has awarded more than $55 million in lymphoma-specific research.

For information, visit http://lymphoma.org.

ABOUT FIRST COLUMBIA:

First Columbia is a diversified real estate/investment organization committed to planning, developing, and operating high quality facilities. Its projects include corporate buildings, office campuses, medical complexes, senior housing, retail, and high-tech facilities.

For information, visit: http://hedleydistrict.com

ABOUT FIRST COLUMBIA

First Columbia is a diversified real estate/investment organization committed to planning, developing, and operating high quality facilities. Its projects include corporate buildings, office campuses, medical complexes, senior housing, retail, and high-tech facilities.

For information, visit: http://www.firstcolumbia.com

MEDIA CONTACTS:

CONTACT:

Victoria Harris
Marketing Director
First Columbia
(518) 213-1009
vharris@firstcolumbia.com

Peggy Ann Torney
Associate Director of Public Affairs
Lymphoma Research Foundation
ptorney@lymphoma.org

###

IT Firm Relocates to Hedley Park Place, Troy

MAC Source brings 14 employees to downtown Troy

TROY, NY (5/3/13) — This April, an IT solutions provider relocated 14 employees to Hedley Park Place in downtown Troy.

Founded in 1997, MAC Source Communications, Inc. offers business communications consulting, telecommunications system design, implementation and management services. It is a subsidiary of Meridian Group International, headquartered in Chicago, IL.

“Everyone loves it here, and the fact that we can just walk downstairs for coffee or down the block for lunch,” said MAC Source marketing manager Carly Rizzo of the company’s new Troy location. “We almost had a few squabbles over who gets the best window views.”

The company relocated this April 1, from Cohoes to the newly renovated sixth floor of Hedley Park Place, after it had outgrown its previous space.  Rizzo says all but one of the company’s 14 employees  commute from outside Troy.

MAC Source is one of several new tenants to refill Hedley Park Place after the state began vacating more than 130,000 square feet of rental space  in 2012. Both Hedley Park Place and nearby Flanigan Square are owned and managed by Latham-based developer First Columbia, which is investing about $10 million to convert the spaces into New York City-style, high-tech offices. An all-new lobby and fully rennovated lob lready completed at the Hedley building are an all new lobby and fully renovated sixth floor.

Victoria Harris, marketing director, says First Columbia is committed to bringing a fresh new workforce to Troy in order to help stimulate true growth in the city. To date, new tenants have re-filled 106,000 square feet out of the 136,000 square feet formerly occupied by the state.

“Over the past few months we’ve been hearing from a lot of suburban employers who are looking to relocate to an area where there are things to do, places to walk. People want to be where the action is,” Harris said. “Hedley Park Place is really the best of both worlds because it has that urban/downtown/professional feeling, but it also has all the suburban office park amenities, like easy access from the highway, parking and modern fixtures.”

Prospective tenants can learn more about the properties and space available for lease by calling listing broker Deborah Mikhitarian-Russell at (518) 213-1088.

ABOUT MAC SOURCE COMMUNICATIONS

MAC Source (www.MacSourceInc.com) offers reliable traditional and advanced IT solutions for government agencies, schools, private companies and businesses. Technicians are available 24 hours.

MAC Source works with a variety of technology companies, including Avaya, to maintain a comprehensive inventory of immediately available parts, for virtually any business communications requirements, including:

  • Traditional key and hybrid telephony solutions
  • PBX planning, design, installation, and maintenance
  • Voice over IP
  • IP PBX
  • Unified messaging
  • Unified communications
  • Wireless communications
  • Video conferencing
  • Ethernet switching

As part of Meridian Group International (MGI), MAC Source is supported by over three decades of financial stability and a deep understanding of IT solutions, leasing, and finance. Since 1979, MGI has enjoyed consecutive years of profitability, attributed to technical expertise and a dedication to building strong, productive relationships with customers. Learn more at: www.onlineMeridian.com

ABOUT FIRST COLUMBIA

First Columbia is a diversified real estate/investment organization committed to planning, developing, and operating high quality facilities. Its projects include corporate buildings, office campuses, medical complexes, senior housing, retail, and high-tech facilities.

For information, visit: http://www.firstcolumbia.com

MEDIA CONTACT:

Victoria Harris, marketing director First Columbia at (518) 213-1009.

###

Developer Taps Author To Promote Troy, NY

First Columbia Hires Duncan Crary to Help Spread Troy to the World

TROY, N.Y. (04/04/13) — A major developer has retained a Troy-based author to publicize its historic properties and the revitalization of the city in general.

DCC_CropDuncan Crary, 34, will be helping First Columbia share news of its historic Hedley Park Place and Flanigan Square buildings, as well as the company’s plans to develop the surrounding 25-block region along Troy’s downtown waterfront.

“The City of Troy is undergoing a genuine rebirth. But we need more people living, working and playing here in order to see a full comeback,” Crary said. “I’ll be working with First Columbia to share that message, using their properties and construction plans to entice people to check out what this small American city has to offer.”

A well-known New Urbanist, Crary is the author of “The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler… the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl,” (New Society Publishers, 2011). In the book, which earned critical acclaim in the U.S. and Canada, Crary and Kunstler (author of “The Geography of Nowhere,” and “The Long Emergency”) advocated for the prospects of small cities like Troy.

This December, Crary launched a semi-monthly podcast, titled “A Small American City.” The program highlights the voices, stories, history and urban fabric of Troy, N.Y. It has already attracted an international audience and acclaim.

“We noticed Duncan’s been getting a lot of positive press for the city of Troy — not just locally but around the world,” said Victoria Harris, marketing director of First Columbia. “He really loves this city, and knows a lot about it. So we decided he was the right person to help us get the word out about our properties and plans in Troy.”
$10 MILLION INVESTMENT

First Columbia is investing $10 million to convert the space in both its Hedley Park Place and Flanigan Square buildings into “New York City-style,” high tech offices. In total, the two buildings, contain more than 350,000 square-feet of office space. About 86,000 square-feet of space is currently available at Hedley Park Place, located at 433 River St., while about 87,476 square feet are available at Flanigan Square, located at 547 River St.

Crary’s goal will be to gain positive media attention, locally and beyond, to help attract more tenants from outside the city. He will do that by promoting First Columbia’s projects and the city as a whole.

“Young professionals in particular are looking to re-locate to small walkable cities like Troy,” Crary said. “These two beautiful buildings are great places to set up a company, all within walking distance of restaurants, parks and shops downtown.”
25-BLOCK URBAN REDEVELOPMENT

In 2006, First Columbia commissioned a master plan to redevelop roughly 25 city blocks surrounding its Hedley Park Place and Flanigan Square properties. Plans for “The Hedley District” include dozens of new office and condominium buildings, a seven-story hotel and a riverside promenade.

Crary describes First Columbia’s plans for downtown Troy as high quality New Urbanism.
ABOUT DUNCAN CRARY

In 2008, Crary established a self-titled consulting and public relations firm in Troy. His clients include authors, nonprofits and businesses. He has helped several Troy-based clients garner national news coverage. He is a board member of the Troy Rehabilitation & Improvement Project (TRIP), a member of the Rensselaer County Environmental Management Council, and often serves on panels for The Arts Center of the Capital Region. His website is: http://DuncanCrary.com
ABOUT FIRST COLUMBIA

First Columbia is a diversified real estate/investment organization committed to planning, developing, and operating high quality facilities. Its projects include corporate buildings, office campuses, medical complexes, senior housing, retail and high-tech facilities.
PUBLICITY IMAGES
For a high resolution photo of Crary and publicity images for First Columbia, visit: http://www.duncancrary.com/clients/FirstColumbia

For information, contact:

Victoria Harris, 518-213-1009

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Major Developer Drawing New Business to Troy After State Pull-out

New First Columbia Tenants Fill 106,000 sq. ft. After State Frees 136,000 sq. ft.

TROY, NY (03/19/13) — Two major properties along the city’s riverfront are rapidly refilling after the state began vacating more than 130,000 square feet of rental space in 2012.

Hedley Park Place Hudson RiverLatham-based developer First Columbia is making big gains in a strategy to draw out-of-town tenants to its historic Hedley Park Place and Flanigan Square properties on the Troy riverfront. The effort includes a $10 million investment to convert the space in both buildings into New York City-style, high-tech offices.

“We’re bouncing back,” said Victoria Harris, marketing director of First Columbia. “The whole point of bringing state workers here to Troy back in the ’90s was to help revitalize the downtown Troy economy. Now, First Columbia is in a position to do that again, with fresh companies and a new workforce.”

To date, new tenants have re-filled 106,000 square feet out of the 136,000 square feet vacated by the state.

NEW TENANTS AT HEDLEY PARK PLACE:

The following tenants are already or will soon be leasing space at First Columbia’s Hedley Park Place:

STRATEGY DRAWS NEW BUSINESS TO TROY

Although City Hall and EOC were already located in other parts of Troy, the remaining new tenants at Hedley Park Place have re-located from outside the city.

“It wouldn’t be true growth if we were simply attracting tenants from one space in the city to another,” Harris said. “First Columbia is committed to bringing a fresh new workforce to downtown Troy.”

About 86,000 square feet of space is still available at Hedley Park Place, which is currently 74 percent occupied. About 87,476 square feet remain open at Flanigan Square, which is about 20 percent occupied.

“Hedley Park Place is really the best of both worlds,” Harris said. “It has that urban/ downtown/professional feeling — you can walk to restaurants and festivals. But it also has all the suburban office park amenities, like easy access from the highway, parking and modern fixtures.”

Prospective tenants can learn more about the properties and space available for lease by calling listing broker Deborah Mikhitarian-Russell at (518) 213-1088.

“HEDLEY DISTRICT” PLANS STILL ON

In 2006, First Columbia commissioned a master plan to redevelop roughly 25 city blocks surrounding its Hedley Park Place and Flanigan Square properties. Plans for “The Hedley District” include dozens of new office and condominium buildings, a seven-story hotel and a riverside promenade.

“Our goal is to help make Troy a place where you can truly live, work and play,” Harris said.

ABOUT FIRST COLUMBIA

First Columbia is a diversified real estate/investment organization committed to planning, developing, and operating high quality facilities. Its projects include corporate buildings, office campuses, medical complexes, senior housing, retail, and high-tech facilities.

For high-resolution photography, architectural renderings and design plans, visit: http://DuncanCrary.com/clients/FirstColumbia

For information, contact: Victoria Harris, marketing director First Columbia at (518) 213-1009.

###

First Columbia’s Hedley Park Place Supports Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

TROY (10/12/13) — Commercial real estate development and investment company First Columbia announced that the company’s property Hedley Park Place will proudly support the Unity House as a participant in the “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” campaign. During the month of October First Columbia will light Hedley’s smokestack purple to show our support for ending violence against women. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and for the third year, New York State is undertaking the campaign to “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” by turning the State purple during October.

Last year was a huge success, with more than 120 partners across New York State who lit buildings purple, dressed in purple, and promoted the message online. These breathtaking images are powerful and motivational. As one person said, “When I saw the top of the building lit purple, it made me realize that there really are people out there working to help me.”

You can see Hedley’s smokestack from Alternate Route 7 going into downtown Troy as well as from Green Island and the Green Island Bridge. The smokestack was professionally designed by RPI’s Lighting Research Center back in 2008. Last year, hundreds of state employees wore purple on one designated day. This year, First Columbia is encouraging our tenants and the public to wear purple during October, but especially on Wednesday, October 20th in support of this campaign. The Hedley Building also supports the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month educates women about the importance of early detection. More and more women are getting mammograms to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. As a result, breast cancer deaths are on the decline. So, in rotation with the purple smokestack lights will be pink lights in celebration of 25 years of Awareness, Education and Empowerment!

First Columbia is one of the regionʹs largest real estate developers/investment companies and part of the Bette Family of Companies, a diversified building organization headquartered in Albany. As a vertically integrated organization, First Columbia provides comprehensive services from site acquisition through permitting, design construction, leasing and financing ‐ all focused on creating value in real estate for their customers.

For more information about First Columbia, call (518) 213‐1000, or visit www.firstcolumbia.com.

News Express Scripts to add dozens of employees

By Cecelia Martinez
The Record, Sept. 9, 2010

TROY — Express Scripts, a prescription processing center based out of St. Louis, Mo., with a location in Troy, has filled over a hundred new positions and is looking to hire additional workers thanks to an expansion.

Congressman Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, toured the facility Wednesday and met with employees as part of his Renew Upstate New York economic development agenda in Rensselaer County.

Express Scripts is located in the Hedley Park Place building at 433 River Street, where earlier this year it renovated office space to make way for the new workers, which include data entry technicians and pharmacists. According to the Express Scripts career website, they are still looking to fill more of those positions, as well as a site scheduler.

Express Scripts, founded in 1986, is the pharmacy benefit manager for TRICARE, the health care plan for veterans and active military personnel. It is a Fortune 500 company and in 2009 was named by Forbes as one of the 10 Companies Hiring the Most.

The Renew Upstate New York plan identifies four critical sectors for strengthening the economic future of the 20th District, specifically making improvements to infrastructure, education, energy and small business and agriculture.

Murphy is continuing to travel around the district touring facilities, hosting town hall meetings and organizing discussions with local business leaders to further develop the plan. The plan is available online at www.scottmurphy.house.gov/RenewUpstateNewYork.

For more information about Express Scripts careers, visit www.express-scripts.com/careers.