New Plans for Tobin’s Site Has Region Screaming ‘Hot Dog!’

By Fenwick Jolsen

Published October 18th, 2015

WEST ALBANY — Area economic czars have unveiled a plan to revive the former Tobin’s First Prize Center here, a once-flourishing slaughterhouse and hot dog factory that in past decades has devolved into one of the city’s biggest eyesores.

Plans for the site — which include a hotel, conference hall and fitness center — come four months after The Albany Smudge featured the Tobin’s plant in a June 21 Smudge Remembers piece by Bobby “Two Fingers” Kincaid in which citizens fondly recalled how the factory made the air throughout West Albany smell like “hot ham water.”

The Times Union reported Oct. 7 that plans for the site also include a movie theater.

Nathan Krakus, president of the Capital Region Center for Proposed Economic Projects, said what’s unique about the new Tobin’s development is that it will be used as a retreat center for apprentice butchers.

“When the Tobin’s plant was in operation, it really was one of the golden ages for the Capital Region,” said Krakus. “Some 360 pigs were being slaughtered there every hour according to Wikipedia, and 50,000 hot dogs and 20,000 pounds of kielbasa were being pumped out of there per day.

“We may not be able to recreate that smell of hot ham water that made West Albany such a special place to live,” Krakus said. “But we can use that very same ground where so many pigs were slaughtered, to train and inspire apprentice butchers to slaughter and sell pigs with the same kind of passion that was on display each and every day the Tobin’s plant was running. And then at night, we’ll show them a movie. Maybe a Sandra Bullock film.”

While there have been several plans to redevelop the Tobin’s site in past years, no developer has ever succeeded. Krakus, however, believes this time will be different.

“I think there is a real desire these days to enhance our future by embracing our past,” said Krakus. “And there is no greater way to embrace that past than by celebrating our rich tradition of pig slaughter and hot dog production. I think it’s high time we grab our sausage and jerk ourselves toward a better tomorrow.”


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