The Capital Region Land Bank will receive a $1.7 million grant for projects in Schenectady and Amsterdam, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Friday.
In Schenectady, the land bank will work with Schenectady County, the city of Schenectady and the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority to demolish more than 100 blighted buildings and to make improvements elsewhere in the city and county.
In Amsterdam, land bank money will assist the Amsterdam Housing Authority in renovating seven vacant residential properties.
“We are honored to receive this funding and look forward to continuing the land bank’s efforts to restore, revitalize and reinvigorate our neighborhoods,” said Schenectady County Legislator Richard Ruzzo, who is chairman of the Capital Region Land Bank.
Land banks, which are non-profit organizations authorized under state law, can buy or spend money on vacant or abandoned properties — to demolish or rehabilitate them, or to make them suitable for sale to new owners.
The new grant will allow the land bank — in conjunction with a $1 million Restore NY grant announced for Metroplex last month — to expand its efforts on Crane Street in Mont Pleasant and to continue efforts to improve the Eastern Avenue corridor. The latter work includes the new Tribune Park and renovations at the former Copper Keg tavern.
The land bank is also working to build new homes on the city’s Northside and on Barrett Street, as well as on the conversion of the former county social services building into apartments. The land bank has also done blight-demolition projects in Rotterdam and Rotterdam Junction.
“We have more investment headed to Schenectady County neighborhoods than at any time in recent memory,” Ruzzo said. “Almost $50 million in construction will be underway this year in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood along Albany and Craig streets.”
Earlier this week, the land bank purchased 839 Eastern Ave. for $1,001, with plans to renovate the building.
The award to Amsterdam will allow the land bank to match demolition funds secured by the city to raze a blighted property in the East End.
An earlier round of of funding allowed the city to demolish and rehabilitate blighted properties into community garden spaces and affordable housing units, said Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa. He said several unsafe buildings, all in high-visibility locations, will be demolished under the new grant.
“This will address a serious public safety hazard, improve the appearance of the neighborhood and serve as a catalyst to redevelopment of the East End,” Villa said.
The money is coming from Enterprise Community Partners as part of a settlement negotiated by Schneiderman’s office with large banks that were accused of misconduct during the housing crisis. In all, nearly $21 million is being distributed to 19 land banks around the state. In 2014, a similar settlement brought the Capital Region Land Bank a $3.1 million grant, which has financed much of its work to date.
“Communities across New York are still suffering the fallout from the housing crisis, and my office will continue to support innovative efforts to help them recover,” Schneiderman said.
Also in the Capital Region, the Albany County Land Bank received a little more than $1 million. It will invest the funds in Sheridan Hollow, Arbor Hill, the South End, West Hill and the West End.
The Troy Community Land Bank received $701,587, with which it plans to acquire up to 24 vacant or abandoned properties and rehab as many as 16 of them, demolishing those that are beyond repair.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.