ALBANY, N.Y. -- The first of four workshops was held Tuesday with a packed house at 981 Broadway, as more than 75 business leaders, community members and students took a hands-on approach to re-imagine the Warehouse District as the city attempts to re-zone Albany.
"You drive by on the highway and you see this area just looks like a, I don't even know what you would call it," said Benita Law-Diao, Albany resident.
There's dirt and construction, abandoned property and vacant building, but as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is potential in the eye of the businessman, hoping to salvage what may be someone else's trash, turning it into treasure.
"I see an area with wonderful potential," said Bill Batt, Albany resident.
"We went to every city, looked all over the place, we went to every city and the way this place is set up, half is a retail side and half a restaurant," said Chris Martell, Druthers Brewing Company CEO.
The newly opened 18,000 square foot space brewery and restaurant employs 68 people and is the latest addition to an ever-growing area along Broadway.
"In this district alone, we have four brewers, distillers that are expanding and growing," said Sarah Reginelli, Capitalize Albany Corporation.
While some see a blend of retail, nightlife and manufacturing growing in this concrete jungle, the city wants to know how you want to see the warehouse district evolve.
"I would encourage people if you drive down Broadway and go past a building and you have a great idea for what you think would go in that building. this workshop is for you," said Mayor Kathy Sheehan, D-Albany.
Four open houses planned this week will re-imagine the area as others re-invest in it, hopefully bringing a re-newed sense of community.
"I would like to some of the old buildings used for more senior housing," Batt said.
"Stop knocking down the trees, reclaim the gray space and make it green, that's my dream," said Law-Diao.
The next workshop is scheduled from 9 - 6 p.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday at 981 Broadway, and from 6 - 8 p.m. Friday. The preliminary design of the re-zoned area will be unveiled then.