BY REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — The first couple of weeks in January promise to bring renewed energy to one of Niskayuna’s busiest commercial areas, the intersection of Balltown Road and Nott Street.
Two new businesses will open there early in the new year, though both are updated iterations of older landmarks.
On Jan. 7, Stewart’s will open at 556 Balltown Road at the updated site of the former Mobil station.
On Jan. 9, a new Starbucks building just yards from an older storefront in Shop Rite Plaza will open its doors — and its new drive-through window.
The new Stewart’s is opening later than expected following construction setbacks, including the discovery of asbestos inside the pre-existing structure, which was previously a Mobil gas station with a small garage.
“It all kind of fluctuates on the process of approvals and such,” Stewart’s spokeswoman Maria D’Amelia said. When the construction began in September, she had predicted it would take about a month.
“It’s just one of those things that is part of the project,” she said of the asbestos removal.
During the last few days of December, construction crews were set to wrap up the project.
“Right now, we’re just finishing up the touches to make it look like a Stewart’s,” D’Amelia said.
In addition to the gas service that remains from when the location was a Mobil, she said the new corner store would focus on meals to go, including pastries, breakfast and lunch.
A ceremonial ribbon cutting will take place Jan. 16. The existing Stewart’s at the corner of Balltown and Consaul Roads will remain open after the new one is in operation.
Just a few short strides from the Stewart’s shop, a new Starbucks location is almost complete.
From Jan. 5-8, Niskayuna Frappuccino fans will have to look elsewhere, as the previous storefront will be closed while employees transition across the parking lot to the new location. Starting Jan. 9, coffee drinkers will be able to get their fix without leaving their cars.
Art Rendak, president of Inland Mortgage Capital, the company that has overseen an ongoing renovation of the plaza, said he expected a warm reception for the new site.
“We think it’s going to be great for the center, and certainly for [Starbucks’] customers,” Rendak said. “It’ll be exciting, on the day they open, just to see what the drive-through line looks like.”
Inside, the new space is only marginally larger than the old one: 1,750 square feet, not counting the drive-through, as opposed to 1,600. That’s about the size of a small office, and Rendak said the increase probably won’t be noticeable for customers. But between more efficient use of space and the shorter indoor line, he expects the newer location to be less crowded.
No retailers have spoken for the soon-to-be-vacant retail location between Shop Rite and TCBY in the plaza, but Rendak said filling that and the roughly half-dozen currently empty storefronts is the next step in the plaza’s facelift. “I’m hoping we get a lot of people interested in that space,” he said of the old Starbucks location.
“With the redevelopment more or less done, we probably want to do some work on the parking lot, on the Balltown side of the center,” Rendak said. “Now we’ve got to focus on filling up the vacant space.”