Schenectady County

Schenectady apartment project gets state funding

An apartment project planned in Hamilton Hill was approved for funding by the state Homes and Commun
The former Horace Mann School at 602 Craig St. in Schenectady is pictured on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.
The former Horace Mann School at 602 Craig St. in Schenectady is pictured on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

An apartment project planned in Hamilton Hill was approved for funding by the state Homes and Community Renewal and is expected to get underway in January.

The state awarded $2.2 million in funding for the project, which totals 58 apartments with 25 for seniors and 33 for families, the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority announced on Tuesday.

The $19.4 million Hillside View project by Community Builders of Albany will add 25 senior apartments at the former Horace Mann School at 602 Craig St. and 13 apartments at the former St. Columba’s School at 400 Craig St.

As part of the project, two-family houses at 702 Stanley St. and 708 Stanley St. will be redeveloped and a six-unit apartment building will be built at 715-719 Stanley St. with a playground and green space.

A four-unit apartment building will be constructed at 716-720 Stanley St. along with a two-family home renovated at 730 Stanley St. Also, a four-unit apartment building will be built at now vacant 807-809 Emmett St.

Jennica Petrik-Huff, project manager at Community Builders, said the three houses on Stanley Street would have one apartment on the first floor and another on the second.

The three new buildings that will be built would include four apartments in two buildings and six apartments in the third.

Petrik-Huff said the apartments would be marketed for people with a range of incomes.

“Our mission is for people of all incomes to reach their full potential,” she said. “It depends on your definition of affordable. We set price points where no household will pay more than 30 percent of their income towards the rent. Sometimes we discount that even more.”

She said construction could start in December or January and take between 14 and 18 months. The goal is for Community Builders to use local and minority- and women-owned businesses for 30 percent of the contract.

“The phasing is going to depend on when we actually start construction and given the time of year it is,” she said. “We’re also considering looking at the ways to incorporate as many local and MWBE businesses as possible. It’s an option to break up the components so smaller contractors can have a piece.”

Petrik-Huff said the former Horace Mann School would be gutted and rehabbed. The former Columba’s School has historic elements that would have to be retained.

The existing layout at Columba’s would remain with the cloak rooms converted into bathrooms and classrooms turned into living space, she said.

“We’ll reconfigure the classrooms to create apartment units,” she said. “The chalkboards would remain in place. A lot of thinking and intention went into laying out the spaces in both school buildings.”

The project has several funding sources, including $14.7 million in equity investment between historic and housing tax credits along with $1.25 million in federal funding, $660,000 in affordable housing program funds and $500,000 from the city of Schenectady.

The city is applying with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to use the $500,000 previously earmarked to demolish the old Department of Social Services building for the Hillside View project.

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said the DSS building will be redeveloped and plans will be announced soon.

The project also received $250,000 from the Schenectady Foundation and the Wright Family Foundation and Metroplex provided $150,000 to renovate one of the schools, Gillen said.

The Hillside View project comes as the Joseph L. Allen Apartments are being built at Albany and Hulett streets. The $17.9 million affordable housing project will add 51 apartments to the neighborhood.

Petrik-Huff said she believes the two projects in Hamilton Hill will complement each other and help spur development in the area.

“There is the Joe Allen Apartments, the Schenectady County library branch and possibilities for retail development at Brandywine,” she said. “We’re working closely to draw that investment from downtown to Albany Street and the State Street corridors. We’re working to make sure it will bring future economic opportunities to an area that has been historically disadvantaged.”

She said the Hillside View project would redevelop two of three big buildings that are crumbling on Craig Street. The third is the Carver Community Center, which remains vacant following several failed auctions.

Community Builders initially expressed interest in the building, but Petrik-Huff said the nonprofit real estate developer would prefer another group purchase the building.

People in the community formed a group, called the Miracle on Craig Street, in an effort to raise money and purchase the building with hopes of rehabilitating and reopening it. The group has raised a total of $32,348 to date on its YouCaring website.

“We looked at purchasing the building and then we saw a local community group coalescing,” she said. “We are always willing to partner and assist in whatever way is needed within reason. We would offer our assistance and let them run with it. Right now that’s where things stand.”

Petrik-Huff said the Hillside View project was made possible thanks to the huge community effort in Schenectady with partners ranging from neighborhood associations, elected officials, nonprofits and for-profit organizations.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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