By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — A new United States Army Reserve Center is in the final stages of construction at 1201 Hillside Ave.
Troops have already begun to use the new center, an upgraded replacement for an existing USARC sitting directly in front of the new construction, on the same property.
The project, which cost more than $18 million, is part of a larger plan by the Army to condense and upgrade its reserve centers. Earlier this month, Albany’s Maj. James J. O’Donovan Center closed; reservists there will work out of the new Niskayuna facility.
“Usually we try to find several of the older centers to close and combine the troops into the new center,” said Shawn Morris, deputy command info chief for the region. “We’re doing a lot of that across our 13 states.
“It’s sad to leave Albany. The community there was supportive, but the center was from the ’50s and it wasn’t meeting the Army’s needs anymore,” he continued.
Newer centers save money by eliminating redundant costs to run two smaller buildings, from electricity to instructors. When combined with older centers, they provide multiple groups with better classrooms and training spaces without having to upgrade multiple buildings.
The new reserve center is approximately 61,282 feet, plus two additional, smaller buildings. The old building on the same site will be demolished in the near future, and will be replaced with an expanded parking lot. A date has not yet been set for demolition, but Morris said it will have to be torn down soon for the site to become fully operational.
Morris said environmental impact was carefully considered before the new center was constructed. It is certified LEED Silver — LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” and silver is its second tier out of four). A large solar array has already been installed on the site.
After the project is complete, the center will keep its name, and will continue to operate as the Brandt Research Center.
Niskayuna Town Supervisor Joe Landry said he was excited to see the local effects of the expanded reserve center once it begins to operate at full capacity.
“It’s an expansion of the current facility, so we’re looking to have a lot more activity,” he said. “With more activity, more people will be in the area, and you’ll see a lot more military people using that.
“We’re very pleased to be hosting it in Niskayuna,” he added.