CARS HOMES JOBS

Apartment proposal in Schenectady awaits grant

Hamilton Hill plan would benefit veterans, senior citizens

Sunday, January 26, 2014
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— Community Builders is already making connections with agencies in Hamilton Hill, but their housing project proposal there is not yet a go.

The company has applied for a state Division of Housing and Community Renewal grant to turn the vacant Schenectady Family Health Center at 602-608 Craig St. into an apartment building.

The apartments would be marketed to veterans and the elderly, and it would fill a location that has been vacant since 2005.

But the project won’t go forward without the state grant, company officials said. They expect to hear from the state in March or April.

“I feel that we have a very strong application,” said company official Jennica Petrik-Huff.

The proposal has been greeted with some complaints from residents in the neighborhood, but agencies have welcomed the company with open arms.

At a recent meeting at the Hamilton Hill Arts Center, company officials said they would love to arrange a partnership. They envision busing their elderly residents to the center for art lessons or volunteer opportunities.

The company is also in talks with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady, which owns a large building on Craig Street in Hamilton Hill. Company officials said they would like to buy that building to do a larger project in the neighborhood.

“We would love to do more than a single building,” said Sue McCann, New York director of development for Community Builders. “It’s best for the sustainability of the project and it’s best for transforming the neighborhood.”

Club officials said they’re open to selling the building. They want to build a new, state-of-the-art club near Mont Pleasant Middle School.

But nothing is certain until the state responds to the grant application.

Community Builders last came to Schenectady a decade ago with an $8.5 million housing project in the Vale neighborhood.

Community Builders received $2.7 million in low-income housing tax credits from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal and took out a $1.6 million loan.

Community Builders purchased 20 dilapidated city-owned houses and rehabilitated them into 40 apartment units.

Other agencies, including Metroplex Development Authority, Better Neighborhoods Inc. and the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority, also poured money into the neighborhood to bring houses up to code, rehabilitate six houses and repave the streets and sidewalks.

The project was criticized for its high cost: Community Builders spent about $215,000 per house in a neighborhood where houses sell for $10,000 to $50,000.

But city officials hailed it as a success because it reclaimed a deeply blighted neighborhood. Fixing the houses was worth the cost, they said, and noted that the state would have given the money to some other city if it had not gone to Schenectady.

 
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