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Dec 23, 2006, 4:13 PM
Along with the previously proposed 733 Broadway (Norstar - 80 units) and the Quackenbush Square project (Queri - 100-130 units), this was just announced:
Condominiums Planned for Site on Broadway
A former piano factory to house 26 units; an adjacent lot would be used for 18 more
By ERIC ANDERSON, Deputy business editor
ALBANY -- A 150-year-old former piano factory on Broadway in north Albany would be converted to condominiums under a plan being developed by the building's owner.
Ed Rosen, who owns Broadway Material Supply and A.E. Rosen Electric, has hired Albany-based 3t Architects to develop the plan and get the necessary permits.
Rosen said he will decide within six months whether to pursue the project himself, or to sell it to another developer.
"Everything is done and set," he said Friday. The four-story building, at 889 Broadway, would continue to have a commercial tenant on the first floor, with 26 condominium units on the three upper floors.
A second phase would have another four-story structure built on an adjacent parking lot, with the first floor devoted to parking and the upper three floors housing an additional 18 condominiums.
Neither Rosen nor Scott Townsend, a principal at 3t Architects, would disclose what the project would cost. But Rosen said he would move his second-floor electric contracting business to another site. E-BizDocs, which converts paper documents to electronic ones, occupies the first floor and would remain.
The Miss Albany Diner and Noche Lounge, along with a number of industrial buildings, are in the immediate neighborhood. But just a short distance south, two other residential projects -- a condominium tower at 733 Broadway and a mixed-use building with apartments at Quackenbush Square -- are also in the planning stages.
"There is a growing demand for distinctive living spaces in and near downtown Albany," said Marc Bailey, an architect at 3t Architects.
The Downtown Albany Business Improvement District said a study released in November found as many as 2,440 households that could move downtown if housing were available.
Pamela Tobin, the BID director, could not be reached Friday for comment.
Rosen, meanwhile, said his electrical contracting business is thriving, and that he recently added "five or six" more people, boosting employment there to 30. He expects to bid on one of the other projects, the 65- to 75-unit condominium building being planned by Norstar Development.
Anderson can be reached at 454-5323 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Dec 23, 2006, 7:48 PM
Missed this story. What section was it in?
Dec 23, 2006, 11:53 PM
It was in the Business section, but that was placed at the end of the Capital Region section -- page B12.
And I agree about it being a bit out of the way. That area is still heavily industrial and not pretty to look at. It'll take some real pioneers to chose to live in these units.
Dec 27, 2006, 4:15 PM
N. Albany building owner thinks time is right for condo conversion
The Business Review (Albany) - December 22, 2006
by Michael DeMasi - The Business Review
The owner of an electric supply company in North Albany is testing the water to see if there's demand for upscale condominium living in a part of the city where tractor-trailers and industrial warehouses rule the roost.
Ed Rosen of A.E. Rosen Electric has taken the initial steps needed to convert his four-story brick building at 889 Broadway into condominiums, including hiring an architectural firm and applying for city permits.
But Rosen is in no rush to pursue the project and is positioning himself to possibly sell the building to a developer who would actually do the condominium conversion.
"I will be making my mind up in the next six months," Rosen said.
Under the plans, the first floor of the 30,000-square-foot building would continue housing commercial tenants. About 26 condominium units could fit on the upper floors; a 17,000-square-foot addition on an existing paved lot would create room for 14 more units, according to Marc Bailey of 3T Architects in Albany.
Built in 1853 and once home to the Boardman & Gray piano company, the building at the corner of Broadway and North Ferry Street is next to the Miss Albany Diner and Noche Lounge, a swanky nightclub in an old fire station that opened a year ago.
Other neighbors include the kinds of businesses more typical of the commercial and industrial district, such as plumbing supplier Capitol District Supply Co. and Eastern Heating & Cooling Inc.
One of the keys for Rosen to go forward is finding a new location for his business, which he founded in Colonie in 1977 and moved to Albany in 1993. Rosen's wife, Sharon, runs a second business there, Alarm Systems Distributors.
Rosen wants to stay in North Albany because of its central location and easy access to Interstate 787, but said he's having a hard time finding a suitable, one-story building where he could move.
Rosen believes the time may be right for upscale housing in North Albany given the interest from other developers in building a 10-story, 122-unit condominium tower and an 11-story, mixed-use apartment building less than half a mile away on Broadway, near Quackenbush Square. Both projects are still in the early stages of planning and development.
A recent survey commissioned by the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District found 2,440 households could potentially move downtown. The survey's study area included the section of North Albany up to North Ferry Street.
Karl A. Brodsky of North Albany Realty, who has done commercial sales in the area for about eight years, said the potential development of the condominium tower and mixed-use apartment building on Broadway has created a lot of "buzz" about the possibilities for residential living.
Brodsky thinks it's more likely that people would choose to buy instead of rent initially because there are currently so few amenities, such as retail stores, nearby.
"I think the first wave of people are going to be looking for floor space for a relatively inexpensive price," said Brodsky, who rents space from Rosen and is a friend but said he has no financial interest in the possible conversion of the building.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 518-640-6814
Dec 27, 2006, 5:27 PM
^ If all those units get developed downtown, that would surpass Spitzer's 2% residential in downtown figure for a city's economic recovery. Go Albany.
Jan 19, 2007, 9:55 PM
Tenants Get Aid to Help Move
HUD rent vouchers speed the exit of Dewitt Clinton residents
By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
First published: Friday, January 19, 2007
ALBANY -- It took nine months, but the federal government is providing support for low-income tenants to move from the historic DeWitt Clinton apartments, whose owners are emptying the building to renovate it.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued rent assistance vouchers for the remaining 75 tenants, a step that will help people to find someplace else to live.
"It is extremely helpful," said Harry Wilcox, who lives on a $608-a-month disability payment, and with federal subsidies was paying $203 a month for a $600 apartment. "For the government, this is like light speed."
The HUD vouchers can be taken anywhere in the country where a landlord is willing to accept them. A voucher covers a portion of rent, depending on the holder's income and expenses.
In April, Brooklyn-based See Why Gerard bought the 400-unit apartment building and announced a federal subsidy program would end. The company set a May 1 deadline to empty the building prior to renovations.
It paid HUD $5.3 million for the DeWitt, at the corner of Eagle and State streets.
In its heyday, the DeWitt was was an upscale 400-room hotel. The new owners want to renovate it into larger apartments to rent at market rate. That work cannot start until the last tenants are gone.
Plans hit a snag when HUD didn't come up with rent vouchers, leaving tenants with no help to pay for a new apartment.
About 50 people already moved out, taking their own chances on finding a new apartment.
Henry J. Nahal, a lawyer for the company, said it wants to make moves "as painless as possible for the tenants" and will "continue to work with the Albany Housing Authority to ensure that tenants have a positive experience during the move."
The housing authority will process the applications and should be able to provide vouchers to people later this month so they can start looking for new apartments.
"This way there will not be the massive exodus of people trying to move all at once that would cause confusion and chaos," said authority Executive Director Steve Longo.
Wilcox said he is moving to California. "I told people when I moved, I was going move," he said.
Corey Ellis, Common Council member for the Third Ward that includes the Dewitt, said: "I have a mixed reaction to this. People have time, but we have a shortage of affordable housing."
Natal said the owners are still considering plans and spent an unspecified amount on repairs. Scaffolding came down last week.
Most likely, the building will be renovated into a mix of condominiums and apartments or a hotel, with an office building "an additional choice but less likely choice."
Brian Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Jan 29, 2007, 1:35 PM
Developer's $3.4M buys parcels for Albany mixed-use project
The Business Review (Albany) - January 26, 2007
by Michael DeMasi - The Business Review
The Syracuse-based developers who have proposed an 11-story, high-end apartment building in downtown Albany have finished buying properties along Broadway to the tune of $3.4 million and expect to start construction of The Amos at Quackenbush Square by late fall.
Construction would take about two years.
But the owners of two small businesses on the site don't know what the future holds for them.
Plans by Queri Development Company LLC call for a gas station to be included in the $40 million project to make downtown living as convenient as possible for people renting the 100-plus apartments in the building. There would also be retail stores on the first floor, including an independent grocery store called C.L. Evers & Co.
An adjacent four-story building would contain 115,000 square feet of office space.
"If they want to keep me, I am happy," said Syed Jaffery, who owns the Citgo gas station and convenience store on Broadway. "If they want to kick me out, I have seven years of a lease to be compensated."
Rick Hameroff, owner of Broadway Auto Clinic next door, said, "We have no current negotiations." He declined further comment.
Mark Congel, a partner in Queri Development, said the firm would "work with" the remaining two tenants to get the site ready for construction.
"We're going to work with these businesses to get the project completed," Congel said.
The city will not get involved in any dispute between the businesses and Queri Development, said Joe Rabito, commissioner of development and planning.
"That's a private matter," Rabito said. "The city doesn't usually put its nose between two private business folks."
A third business, wholesale food supplier Adventure in Food Trading Co., is moving from 84 Montgomery St. to a new location, but owner Joe Messina would not say where.
"That's confidential at this point," said Messina, who sells exotic game meats such as venison, bison and caribou and other food to about 500 upscale restaurants and hotels in the Northeast.
Messina, who has owned the business since 1983, sold his buildings for $700,000 on Jan. 11, according to a deed filed in the Albany County Clerk's office.
Other deeds show a corporation created by Queri Development, Albany Soma Project LLC, has spent a total of $3,428,000 since last September buying parcels between Broadway, Spencer Street and Montgomery Street.
Albany Soma also secured a $3.3 million mortgage from KeyBank, records show.
The properties consist of parking lots, abandoned commercial buildings, Adventure in Food Trading Co., Broadway Auto Clinic and the Citgo gas station.
Demolition of the smaller buildings will begin soon to conduct more environmental testing of underground pollutants, Congel said. Once the source and extent of the contamination is known, he said a clean-up plan will be structured with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Queri Development is seeking an enhanced package of $3.26 million in tax breaks from the Albany Industrial Development Agency to offset construction costs. According to Rabito, the IDA continues to evaluate the request and could make a counter proposal to Queri Development.
Queri Development had hoped to sign a lease with the state Department of State to occupy the four-story office building that would be built next to the apartments. But the state said last September that the agency's 550 employees would move to One Commerce Plaza at 99 Washington Ave. when the lease on its existing downtown offices expires in December 2007.
Congel said negotiations are underway with prospective commercial and retail tenants, but he wouldn't divulge any names.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 518-640-6814
© 2006 American City Business Journals, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.
Jan 30, 2007, 4:49 AM
Gee, and the Amos Lofts in Syracuse have a C.L. Evers too.;) So much for being unique. Still, the Queri group does get the stuff done, so here's hoping for the best.
Jan 30, 2007, 3:09 PM
Meeting set on Route 2 plans
First published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007
TROY -- An information meeting on three proposals for realigning the Route 2 corridor will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.
Creighton Manning Engineering will make a presentation about the reconstruction at Congress and Ferry streets. Representatives of the developer, United-Hedley, and the four stakeholders -- the city, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rensselaer County and the Troy Housing Authority -- will answer questions.
Originally announced in November 2005, the development called for a $160 million investment in new residential, office and retail space. There would be low-income housing as well as living quarters for faculty and students.
The project would be built at a 14-acre site between Congress, Ferry and Eighth streets. Ferry Street would be relocated south toward Prospect Park to pick up additional room for the project.
After the public meeting, the stakeholders will select the preferred development proposal from the three options.
-- Kenneth C. Crowe II
Feb 10, 2007, 5:33 PM
In the name of redundancy, here's the blurb about the Sheridan ave. development:
ALBANY -- A 15-story hotel and multistory residential building, coupled with plans for several stores, could be just what downtown needs, city planners say.
The buildings would replace the William Boyd Printing plant on Sheridan Avenue, located a short distance from North Pearl Street. Close by are Capital Repertory Theatre, the Palace Theatre, the new Hampton Inn & Suites hotel, and several restaurants and taverns.
The plans surfaced this week as Boyd's Chapter 11 reorganization wends its way through federal bankruptcy court. Boyd filed for protection from creditors in September 2005. At the time, the 116-year-old company had 80 employees.
Behind the redevelopment plans is The Shapolsky Organization, a New York City-based real estate firm whose principal, Arthur Shapolsky, has offered $2 million for the 1.3-acre Boyd site.....
.....Because neither Shapolsky nor Procida would talk, it's not clear what form the residential units would take -- condominiums or apartments, for example -- and to whom they would be marketed.
"We think the market's there," said Joe Rabito, Albany's commissioner of development and planning. "The more residential, the better."
Feb 10, 2007, 6:39 PM
What's up with all the hotels??? Same thing is happening in Troy.
Feb 28, 2007, 4:12 PM
Couple defies building plan
Albany garage owners win round in dispute over downtown project
By CHRIS CHURCHILL, Business writer
First published: Wednesday, February 28, 2007
ALBANY -- They opened their business 10 years ago, a speck of an auto body shop at the north end of downtown.
They started with next to nothing but gradually made the shop profitable, with Richard Hameroff fixing the cars and his wife, Sandra Hameroff, tending the books.
All the while, the couple watched as developers changed the neighborhood, until their business at 705 Broadway was nearly in the shadow of office towers.
Now that wave of development threatens to erase their shop, the Broadway Auto Clinic.
And the Hameroffs don't necessarily have a problem with that.
"We're not obstructionists," Richard Hameroff said. "We don't want to stand in the way of progress."
But last month, the couple found themselves asking a state Supreme Court justice for a temporary restraining order preventing the termination of their lease, and the subsequent granting of the order is putting a hitch in plans by Syracuse-based Queri Development to build "Amos at Quackenbush Square," an 11-story, $40 million office and apartment tower.
Nearly everyone, it seems, agrees the tower would be good for downtown Albany. It would enliven a stretch of Broadway that has assets -- including Nicole's Bistro and the Albany Pump Station, a brew pub -- but also has vacant lots.
City officials, in particular, are eager for the project. They have long wanted people living in the city's center, and the Queri tower promises as many as 130 apartments.
"The city considers the completion of that project as critical for our plans for downtown," said Joe Rabito, commissioner of the Department of Development and Planning.
The tower, Rabito adds, has nearly completed its path through the city's planning process, meaning Queri Development could be nearly ready to build.
That is, if it weren't for the Hameroffs.
"I don't see anybody digging dirt up yet," Sandra Hameroff said.
Queri Development is owned by Dan Queri and Mark Congel, who is the son of Robert Congel, a prominent developer responsible for the Crossgates Mall and dozens of other retail projects. Repeated phone calls to Queri and Mark Congel were not returned.
The Hameroffs, both 39, of East Greenbush, say their relationship with Queri began amicably. After the company purchased their building, along with several other nearby properties, the developers met with the couple and, according to the Hameroffs, suggested they would be reimbursed for the value of their lease, which the couple contends lasts until 2011.
To be sure, the Hameroffs aren't eager to move. As downtown's only auto body shop, they're uniquely convenient to thousands of commuting office workers.
"Every time a new building goes up, our business increases exponentially," Richard Hameroff said.
Nevertheless, the couple made relocation plans, buying property and preparing to build a new repair shop a mile and a half up Broadway, in Menands. And they presented Queri Development with a lease buyout price: $772,000.
Then, the lines of communication between landlord and tenant cooled.
And in February, the Hameroffs received a letter, signed by Mark Congel, informing them Queri believed their lease had expired and considered them "a month-to-month tenant." (The Hameroffs agreed to provide a copy of their lease and the letter to the Times Union.)
The letter, which did not ask that the auto clinic vacate the property, led the Hameroffs to seek the injunction from the state Supreme Court, to prevent the possibility of an eviction notice they say would end their business. Fearing they won't receive compensation for their lease, the Hameroffs say they can't afford to relocate.
"If they want us to leave, they should treat us fairly," Richard Hameroff said. "This is a Davey and Goliath story, where you have big developers and then you have us."
"They definitely have more money than us," Sandra Hameroff added.
Money remains an issue in more ways than one. Though the project has mostly made its way through the planning process, its potential tax break from the city is still a question.
Typically, Rabito says, the city Industrial Development Agency considers offering such projects a 10-year tax-break package, with property taxes rebated at 50 percent in initial years and the rebate decreasing with the passage of time. But Queri and Congel are asking the city for a two-decade tax break that initial estimates valued at $18.2 million.
"It would be unique," Rabito said. "The city has never done a 20-year abatement."
Rabito said he sympathizes with the Hameroffs' plight, adding the city isn't eager to see a small business depart. But he added that a new residential tower is too important to the city for it not to proceed.
Rabito has also said he's confident the project will eventually go forward, although the difference between Queri and the Hameroffs may be difficult to overcome.
"My understanding is that the parties are far apart," he said. "They have a different understanding of what the value of the lease is."
John Hoggan Jr., an attorney for the Hameroffs, said the couple have not received a compensation offer from Queri Development.
A second court hearing on the dispute is scheduled for March 14, at which the Hameroffs will ask for another injunction against a lease termination.
If they get it, the dispute goes on -- potentially stalling the Amos at Quackenbush Square tower. If the injunction is denied, the Hameroffs fear they could lose a business they've worked hard to build.
"We built this business from nothing," Sandra Hameroff said. "And without it, we are nothing."
Chris Churchill can be reached at 454-5442 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
$18.2 million in tax breaks over 20 years for a $40 million project? I'm no expert on these matters, but that sounds a bit steep. Then again, I suppose one could argue that the value of having residents living downtown will offset this.
Feb 28, 2007, 4:25 PM
Seems stuff like this happens in every city trying to get major projects rolling. Hard not to root for the little guy, but progress has to be made to revitalize downtowns too.
I gotta admit the name of the new development leaves something to be desired - "Amos at Quackenbush Square". :shrug: :koko:
Mar 10, 2007, 2:52 PM
Maybe the developer should chip $772,000 out of that $18.2 MILLION to pay off the little guy.
Mar 13, 2007, 11:31 PM
So, I was passing through Albany last weekend, and I came across this:
Know anything about it?
Mar 14, 2007, 12:09 AM
Uh, could you please describe where it was?
Mar 14, 2007, 4:29 AM
Well, right next to I-90, about five miles before you get to the Hudson from the West, by my guess. There were several newer looking buildings nearby as well.
By the way, I wasn't trying to be rude with my previous post. I simply forgot to add any details about its location.;)
Mar 14, 2007, 3:20 PM
Ohhhh that's the new Hilton Garden Inn going up on Washington Ave. It's due to be completed by the summer, but it doesn't look like that'll happen. And yeah, all those other buildings are hotels too and were built within the past ten years. After the Hilton, there's maybe one or two other parcels that can be developed before that stretch is built out.
Mar 15, 2007, 1:35 PM
Albany, N.Y., Wins Grant to Plan Sustainable Future
The Business Review (Albany) - 12:49 PM EDT Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The American Institute of Architects has named Albany, N.Y., as one of five communities in the country that will participate in a program that helps local leaders and residents plan for a sustainable future through affordable housing, green buildings, walkable neighborhoods and other efforts, the city announced Wednesday.
The Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program will begin April 10 when Alan Mallach, research director of the National Housing Institute, and Erin Simmons, program manager for the Center for Communities by Design, will visit the city for three days to assess Albany's challenges and opportunities.
Based on that visit, Mallach and Simmons will pick a team of architects, planners, hydrologists, economic developers and other professionals to spearhead the planning process. The team will meet in the early summer with a committee of local professionals to brainstorm ideas with residents, called a design charette.
The team will then compile a report highlighting the city's opportunities for greater sustainability and ways to implement those goals. The team will return in one year to evaluate the results.
3t, an architectural firm in Albany, has donated its time and resources for the duration of the program. Representative of the New York State Energy Research Development Authority, Albany's Neighborhoods' Resource Council, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, the Albany Convention Center Authority and other groups have committed to attend the charette.
Albany will pay $5,000 for the consulting services, which are valued at about $25,000, said Douglas Melnick, the city's senior planner who wrote the grant application.
Mayor Jerry Jennings expects the team's recommendations will help focus the public's attention on a new comprehensive plan for the city. The Albany Common Council is considering legislation authorizing the start of the comprehensive plan, Melnick said.
Another planning effort is underway in the city through Recapitalize Albany, a 45-member advisory committee appointed by Jennings last year that includes business, civic and economic development leaders.
The four other communities chosen for AIA's sustainable design program were Tucson, Ariz.; Culver City, Calif.; Dubuque, Iowa and Central, La.
© 2007 American City Business Journals, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.
Mar 18, 2007, 3:27 PM
ALBANY TOUTS BUILDING PLANS THAT WOULD BRING NEW APARTMENTS AND NEW LIFE TO THE CITY'S CENTER
By CHRIS CHURCHILL, Business Writer
First published: Sunday, March 18, 2007
Twenty years ago, Albany city officials looked around their downtown and didn't like what they saw.
The streets were deserted after dark. Shops closed at 6 p.m. And on a typical Saturday afternoon, the corner of Pearl and State streets, among others, was distressingly quiet.
But city officials believed they had a cure for what ailed downtown: housing.
The mayor at the time, the late Thomas Whalen, asked developers to come to the city with residential proposals. He said it was time to create a downtown where people not only worked and played, but lived.
Two decades later, downtown Albany has made progress.
There are new office towers and people on the street after dark, headed to trendy restaurants and nightclubs. There's a vibrancy that longtime observers say the city center lacked.
Yet if you want to buy a condominium or rent an apartment there, you'd have few from which to choose.
Albany officials say that's about to change. Really.
Joe Rabito, the city's commissioner of planning and development, even said he sees a coming "perfect storm" for housing construction.
And there are, in fact, several significant proposals on the table.
On one two-block stretch of Broadway, there are plans for two towers that would together add about 125 apartments and condos near Quackenbush Square.
Just up the street, near the Miss Albany Diner, a developer plans about 45 more condos.
And right in the heart of downtown, on State Street's Wellington Row, a developer plans another tower, primarily an office building, that would include about 15 high-end condominiums.
There's good reason to view the proposals with skepticism. After all, on none has a shovel hit the ground. And Albany over the years has had many such housing proposals -- but little action.
"Housing downtown?" skeptics say. "I'll believe it when I see it."
But city officials insist the city needs just one major project under way for the dam to break, one building to prove the market for downtown housing in Albany is ready -- and waiting.
"I'm hearing from everyone that there's a real demand," Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said. "Hopefully, one of these projects will take off ASAP."
Meanwhile, as officials hope for the start of a big, iconic housing development, several smaller projects actually are happening.
Projects like the one undertaken by Mike Urgo.
Urgo, 63, is a New York City native who moved to Albany in the 1970s and opened Jonathan's, a Pearl Street pizza parlor. Back then, he said, someone suggesting the construction of upscale apartments downtown would have been considered daft.
But times have changed.
So much so that Urgo, after waiting for decades to find a use for the upstairs floors of his building at 33 N. Pearl St., spent about $600,000 to convert the space into six apartments, which last week became ready for occupancy.
As soon as construction began, Urgo said, passersby began peppering him with questions about the apartments, leading him to believe they will rent quickly. "People want to be where the action is, and I guess downtown is where the action is," he said. experts say residents are the best way to create downtown action.
"If you can make your downtown attractive for living, retail will follow, restaurants will follow and businesses will follow," said John McIlwain, senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. "And it will reverse that giant sucking sound of people moving to the suburbs."
Moreover, McIlwain and others say, a thriving downtown is key to a successful city. You wouldn't, after all, eat an apple that's rotten at the core.
In Albany, there's more than just anecdotal evidence of demand for downtown housing. A study released in November by Zimmerman/Volk Associates Inc. of Clifton, N.J., found a market exists for about 2,400 downtown housing units.
The study, commissioned by the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, says there are two types of people who would move downtown.
The first are empty-nesters looking for an easy-to-maintain apartment in a walkable neighborhood.
That category includes Jack Ryan. The 70-year-old owner of an Albany single-family home said he would "love to live downtown if they had some decent housing down there."
The second group identified by the study consists of younger professionals seeking a character-rich urban environment.
Matt Baumgartner, 33, is a member of that group.
"Just because I live in Albany doesn't mean I should give up on loft living," he said.
Baumgartner, who owns Bombers Burrito Bar, paid $225,000 for an old industrial building on Learned Street. He'll convert the building into two apartments, one of which is for him.
With Niko, his black lab, gallavanting around, Baumgartner gave a tour of the building. A former woodworking shop, with brick walls and wide-planked wood floors, the space is raw, to say the least.
"You sort of have to have a vision," he said. "And if you can't see it, then it's not for you." same might be said for the surrounding neighborhood. North of downtown, it's a gritty industrial area lacking greenery and residential services.
But it's an area that could emerge as a warehouse residential district that complements the city center, as the Lower Downtown neighborhood does for Denver or the Fort Point Channel area does for Boston.
In fact, just around the corner from Baumgartner's building stands a former piano factory, at 889 Broadway, that is set to become 26 loft-style condos. A second phase would put a second building on the site that would include 18 additional condos.
Down the street, just blocks from downtown highrises, Norstar Development USA of Buffalo plans a $35 million project that would include 122 units.
That project would be near The Amos at Quackenbush Square, the proposal that really has city officials salivating.
The $40 million, 11-story tower would include retail and more than 100 apartments.
Rabito, the city's planning commissioner, describes the proposal by Queri Development of Syracuse as crucial for downtown housing hopes. Yet it's currently mired in a dispute over the lease held by Broadway Auto Clinic, which sits on the site.
The dispute raises the possibility that another downtown housing proposal could fail to occur -- and add to frustration for those in the city who want downtown housing.
After all, as Albany has talked about downtown housing, similar cities have built it.
Downtown Hartford, Conn., for example, has sprouted several residential towers, while Providence, R.I., has found success converting older building to residences.
In the Capital Region, Albany has fallen behind cities such as Saratoga Springs, where hundreds of new apartments and condos have been constructed, and Troy, which has seen significant rehabilitation of older apartment units.
Some say the Albany lag results from redevelopment decisions that brought Empire State Plaza and ubiquitous highway ramps.
"What you see there now is a consequence of years of tragic decisions," said James Howard Kunstler, the Saratoga Springs-based author of "Geography of Nowhere" and other books on the urban environment.
Added Saratoga Springs developer Jeffrey Pfeil, who is converting a former department store in Troy into apartments: "The incentive (for developing housing) in Troy is that it's got a wealth of fabulous architecture, and, unlike in Albany, most of the architecture wasn't torn down over the years." point to a lack of political will to make downtown housing happen. "It's been talked about as a priority in this administration," said Paul Bray, founder of the Albany Roundtable civic forum. "But talk is talk, and I'm not sure how actively they've moved on it."
But it isn't as if Albany doesn't have successful neighborhoods near downtown, areas like Center Square.
And Mayor Jennings contends that downtown, which he says has improved greatly since he took office in 1994, has been a priority.
He notes the city is fighting forces that extend beyond the Capital Region. "What we're trying to do is reverse the suburbanization of America," he said. "We have to reverse that trend."
Rabito said Albany has measures in place to help developers of downtown housing, such as tax breaks available through what is called the 485e program and the city Industrial Development Agency.
He said the city will help builders acquire land needed for development. The city is even trying to lure a high-end grocery store downtown, to make the area attractive to potential residents.
"We know it's kind of a chicken-or-the-egg thing," Rabito said. "You need the services to be there, and no one wants to be the pioneer."
For now, at least, the city still waits for the big downtown residential project, and waits for the day when a person wanting to rent or own downtown has dozens of choices. "We need one of these major ones to start coming out of the ground," Rabito said.
Chris Churchill can be reached at 454-5442 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mar 18, 2007, 11:42 PM
If I could say one thing about the capital city, I would say it has an architecturally diverse skyline. This is another photo from my trip.
Mar 18, 2007, 11:55 PM
Good news, but how many times has this story been regurgitated?
The city needs to reconnect downtown with the neighborhoods, a tremendous challenge considering the hulking behemoth that the Empire State Plaza is and the surrounding conglomeration of single-use downtown office towers. The key is the city being woven as a fabric, rather than simply plopping a condo tower here and an apartment tower there. Being successful requires strategic placement. Albany has a more of a challenge to providing downtown housing because the center of the city is not as walkable as say, Saratoga Springs or Troy. Granted, it much more walkable than most U.S. cities, but there are some major obstacles that are apparent to the keen observer.
The other point that needs to be made is that reversing the suburbanization of America requires the realization that every living space cannot come complete with an automobile. A parking space for every unit may indeed be possible, but it works consistently against the benefits that urban living provides. Enough talk of services, there need to be some reasonable transportation options. By this, I mean efficent and welcoming enough to somehow who has not been riding public transportation all their life. I have been left beleaguered by current services on more than a few occasions. If you can at least provide the option to get to existing services, the need to locate everything right next door is not nearly as dire. I agree developers have a tough sell, but this is where public agents have to start implementing some programs that compliment their objectives, rather than simply bending over backwards for the often economically conservative private sector.
"What we're trying to do is reverse the suburbanization of America," he said. "We have to reverse that trend."
Was this a Jerry quote? Because Jerry practically lives in the suburbs, and I assume the same could be said of most of his associates. My friend and I almost went so far as to have shirts printed up thats said "Albany: City Run by Suburbanites."
Mar 24, 2007, 3:26 AM
Albany auto repair shop hit with code violations
The Business Review (Albany) - 3:08 PM EDT Friday, March 23, 2007
by Michael DeMasi - The Business Review
The owner of an auto repair shop in Albany, N.Y., whose business stands in the way of a $40 million residential development has been hit with a "cease and desist" order by the city for alleged code violations.
Richard Hameroff, owner of Broadway Auto Clinic at 705 Broadway, was handed a notice by a city official March 22 telling him an inspection found four violations on the property, including the sale of vehicles without a valid permit, exposed trash containers and illegal signs.
Hameroff is ordered to immediately stop using the property for "major auto repair," the sale of vehicles and as a commercial parking lot.
Hameroff, who said he has never had a code violation in 11 years, believes he's being targeted by the city because of his lease dispute with Syracuse-based Queri Development.
"Basically a week after we have a meeting with (the developer) this happens," Hameroff said. "If you put two and two together, I think you arrive at the same conclusion we have."
Neither Nicholas DiLello, director of the division of building and codes who signed the March 21 order, nor Joe Rabito, the commissioner of development and planning, could be immediately reached for comment.
Hameroff received a temporary restraining order in early February to prevent Queri Development from terminating his lease. He is seeking a preliminary injunction in state court, but met with one of the developers last week, Mark Congel, in an effort to resolve the dispute.
Queri Development wants to build an 11-story high-end apartment building called The Amos at Quackenbush Square that would occupy land where Broadway Auto Clinic and other buildings are located.
© 2007 American City Business Journals, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.
Mar 24, 2007, 5:24 AM
Sounds really sketchy. But they've used that one in Syracuse too, so who am I to comment?
Mar 24, 2007, 12:16 PM
Tech draws $45M apartments
California developer plans upscale residential complex with 300 units in Albany
By CHRIS CHURCHILL, Business writer
First published: Saturday, March 24, 2007
ALBANY -- One of the nation's largest apartment builders, proposing its first project in the Northeast, wants to build a large development along Washington Avenue near what is set to become the Harriman Research and Technology Park.
The Alexander at Washington Avenue would include 300 upscale apartments and a 600-car parking garage (*sigh*). The $45 million project would be developed by the A.G. Spanos Cos., a Stockton, Calif., company that has grown by building in Sunbelt states such as California, Arizona and Florida.
Alexander Gus Spanos, founder of the company, owns the San Diego Chargers and is considered one of the world's wealthiest men, ranking 354th on the Forbes magazine list of 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion.
Vic Pryles, an Atlanta-based vice president at the company, said Spanos Cos. sees the Capital Region "as kind of a sleeping market that no one is tapping into." He added that the closest the company has come to building in the Northeast is a project it completed in Indianapolis.
"We're looking at this site as a stepping stone into the Northeast," Pryles said. "We don't typically go into an area and build once."
The arrival of Spanos in the Capital Region could signal a change for the area, where construction has usually been handled on a smaller scale and by local firms.
It has been rumored that larger, out-of-state developers are eyeing the region -- especially after chip maker Advanced Micro Devices announced it would build a $3.2 billion factory in Malta -- but the Spanos proposal is evidence that the rumors are more than just speculation.
Dan Hershberg, a managing partner at Albany's Hershberg & Hershberg, which has been hired to guide The Alexander through the city approval process, estimated The Alexander would be among the largest apartment developments in Albany's history.
The project site is not in a residential neighborhood. It is across Washington Avenue from the Harriman State Office Complex and is centered in an office development anchored by the headquarters for SEFCU and the Capital District Physicians' Health Plan.
But Pryles notes that the state office campus, which is being redeveloped into a high-technology park, and surrounding buildings provide potential residents. Company research, he said, suggests many of the area's workers are staying at nearby extended-stay hotels.
Pryles said the company would like to begin construction by August and have the apartments finished by early 2009. The Albany Planning Board is expected to consider the project at its meeting Thursday, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
The upscale complex would have 174 one-bedroom units, 118 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. It would also have a swimming pool and a fitness center.
And it would be built around a massive parking garage with 600 spaces. Pryles said the large garage is typical for Spanos projects, which are typically built in sprawling cities where even apartment-dwelling households have more than one car.
Churchill can be reached at 454-5442 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Excuse the insertion of my opinion into the article, but come on...2 parking spaces per unit when the majority will be just one bedrooms? blech..
Mar 24, 2007, 12:19 PM
I'm guessing this is the site.. we lose a 600 car parking lot (I'm just guesstimating) to a 600 car parking garage - now that's progress baby!!
Mar 26, 2007, 4:45 AM
Really, I give up. That area ia a disaster anyway. This should put the nail in the coffin.
Mar 28, 2007, 12:30 AM
The gas station and their greedy owners who actually have the nerve to ask Queri for their due compensation.
the two buildings to the right (white and red brick) are to be demolished should the project go forward
both of 'em have these up
And here is 733 Broadway, a block north of the Queri project. Above the "733" sign is another that clearly states its owner - Norstar
Mar 29, 2007, 11:49 PM
Upscale apartment complex proposed near Harriman tech campus
The Business Review (Albany) - 1:28 PM EDT Thursday, March 29, 2007
by Michael DeMasi
A large real estate development company founded by the owner of a National Football League team wants to build a $44 million upscale apartment complex near the site of a technology office park in Albany, N.Y.
The A.G. Spanos Cos. would build the 300-unit complex -- with two courtyards, a pool and fitness center -- along with a 614-space parking garage on a 6.5-acre parcel across from the Harriman Research and Technology Park.
The park is a 330-acre former state office campus off Washington Avenue that's being transformed into a campus focused on privately-owned technology firms. Planners want to incorporate a residential component into the tech park.
A.G. Spanos Cos. was founded by Alex Spanos, the owner of the San Diego Chargers. The Stockton, Calif., company has built more than 120,000 apartments and 2 million square feet of offices nationwide, according to the company's Web site.
This would be the company's first entree into the Northeast, said Dan Hershberg, an engineer in Albany who is guiding the project through the planning process at City Hall. A representative of A.G. Spanos could not be reached for comment.
Hershberg said A.G. Spanos was drawn to the parcel because of the easy access to Interstates 87 and 90. The land is owned by an affiliate of Columbia Development Cos., part of a 12.6-acre parcel the firm bought from the state in 2005 for $4.2 million.
The land is currently a parking lot used by St. Peter's Hospital. The parcel's address is 1225 Washington Ave., but Hershberg said a request would be filed to change the address to 255 Patroon Creek Blvd. to conform with nearby commercial office buildings.
The site plans presented to the Albany Planning Board Thursday showed two residential buildings, each with an interior courtyard, separated by a three-story parking garage. There would also be a 14-space surface parking lot for visitors.
The units would be mostly one- and two-bedrooms; projected rents are $1,200 to $1,900, Hershberg said. The apartments would possibly have a walkway outside. As the Harriman Research and Technology Park is built, there could be pedestrian connections to the buildings. That would give people who live in the apartments and work at the tech park the option of walking to their office.
The next step in the review process is an appearance before the city Zoning Board of Appeals April 11 to seek a variance for an apartment building in a commercial zone. Pending the board's approval, it would go back to the Planning Board.
"The Spanos really want to get it started this year," Hershberg said.
More development appears to be on the way. The six-acre parcel next to the proposed apartments has enough space for a 130,000-square-foot office building, Hershberg said.
"We'll have another proposal in the next few months for offices," said Joseph Nicolla, president of Columbia Development. "We're talking to tenants right now about locating there."
Yes, they will have a lovely stroll, walking to their office as they cross 8+ lanes of traffic. Quaint.
Mar 30, 2007, 9:15 AM
Albany seems to be the hi-tech leader in upstate. If Spanos is involved this project would seem like a sure thing. Jobs, new residents, more building: Go Albany area.
Mar 30, 2007, 5:38 PM
The site plans presented to the Albany Planning Board Thursday showed two residential buildings, each with an interior courtyard, separated by a three-story parking garage. There would also be a 14-space surface parking lot for visitors.
Oct 23, 2007, 5:28 PM
can't believe half a year has gone by without any news..
OK, so last spring US Airways did a 50-page article on Albany for its magazine.. nearly all of it was typical PR-speak, but I did come across this golden nugget of information:
When Norstar Development USA began thinking about a residential development at 733 Broadway in downtown Albany, the Buffalo-based company thought it would be rehabbing the exisiting building into 80 rental units. When it completed its market research, it realized that Albany was ready for something more.
This summer, Norstar will demolish the old property (can someone confirm if this has happened?) and, in its place, build Albany's first luxury condos. According to Project Manager Lori Harris, the newly named Lofts on Broadway will feature spaces ranging from 800-square-foot one-bedrooms to 2,100-square-foot townhomes and flats that will extend over two floors.
Extracted from the real estate section: http://www.usairwaysmag.com/profile_series/Albany/profile_Albany.html
Now assuming it'll get built it would be a great boon for the city. Hopefully there'll be a few thousand square feet of retail included too. But that design.. while it's pleasant in an old-timey way, I fear it'll end up looking like shit if the typical beige precast and/or stucco dryvit junk is used. A design like that demands real stone or brick to be taken seriously.
Still, all I can say is build the damn thing already. Somebody needs to test Albany's real estate waters.
Oct 23, 2007, 11:23 PM
It is too bad that with all of the economic growth and potential future growth that Albany has been experiencing as of late, residential development in the city has been behind the curve. Common sense in upstate cities doesn't reign when times are tough, so I suppose we shouldn't expect to see it when things are on the upswing either. The Harriman Campus has for years been begging to be turned into a progressive mixed use development that could have benefited the University, the city and the local technology sector all together. Instead it will remain the same suburban style garbage that has no place being in a city.
Brad, didn't one of your classes create a plan for the campus that actually made some sense? Of course, why bother listening to a planning resource like that when you can bend to business interests. It would have been great to see the campus have a mixture of housing, retail and light tech industry. There also could have been technology opportunities by making the campus a hydrogen village or utilizing other new energy sources.
I guess you have to look at the positives though. While Washington Ave will always be hopeless, at least downtown seems to be jumping on the residential train.
Oct 25, 2007, 10:48 PM
U.S. Airways magazine, huh? Who would've thunk it?
Norstar is waiting to sell a certain number of units before they demolish the building. After all, the existing building does have some value. Not sure how the sales are going. The design is clearly not attractive, but it could be worse. Where are the architects these days?
Good news is that somebody is doing the Central Warehouse freezer building. Would be exciting to see that get off the ground first.
The Pataki plan for the Harriman Campus was pretty decent, if a bit underwhelming. I've heard Spitzer was taking it in another direction but cannot confirm that. I personally would rather see it linger for awhile until the City's Comprehensive Plan is completed and for gas prices to jump a bit more. $4-5 a gallon gas will make that one valuable piece of real estate. It will also put a little more emphasis on planning. I'm not sure the collective conscious to "do it right" is all there yet.
Dec 14, 2007, 10:33 AM
anyone got any info on how successful the Vacant Upper Floors financing program has been? it uses a menu of abatements, credits, loans and other incentives to stimulate interest in converting vacant upper floors of historic commercial buildings into residential units
Dec 17, 2007, 4:45 AM
I believe it's been pretty successful, but I base this entirely off of what I've seen walking around, so no hard numbers. Still, it's obvious to anyone that a LOT of the little old commercial structures on North Pearl in between State St. and Clinton Ave. are being renovated. It's a great sight knowing that those upper floors, many of them vacant for decades, will finally contribute some life and revenue to the city again.
bpg probably knows more about this.
Dec 18, 2007, 1:17 AM
I don't, unfortunately. Though it would appear that there are a number of smaller, positive things happening under the radar.
The City needs to pursue more targeted investments into nearby corridors and neighborhoods. Downtown is still very fortified.
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