SCHENECTADY — The Mont Pleasant and Eastern Avenue neighborhoods could see 15 more dilapidated properties demolished this summer, according to the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.
Ray Gillen, chairman of the authority and Schenectady County’s commissioner of Economic Development and Planning, said this is being done to make room for more “positive development.”
“It continues the momentum both in downtown and in the neighborhoods,” Gillen said. “That’s our goal with these.”
Metroplex will take three properties in its cache — 608 Smith St., 729 State St. and 1101 Barrett St. — and combine them with 15 properties owned by the Capital Region Land Bank to put out for bid this month for them to be demolished. Gillen said this is being done to get the best price possible for the demolitions.
Gillen said the land bank is still putting together a list of which specific 15 Land Bank properties will be demolished.
Metroplex had previously received a $1 million Restore New York Communities Initiative grant from the state for the demolition and renovation of dilapidated buildings in January 2017. The development authority will use some of its money, along with funding from that grant, to help pay for the demolition.
David Hogenkamp, executive director of the Capital Region Land Bank, said the land bank will also help fund the demolitions through its own money and the remaining funds from the $1.7 million grant it received through the state Enterprise Community Partners Inc. in March 2017. Those funds were made possible by bank settlements reached by former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Richard Ruzzo, chair of the Capital Region Land Bank and a Schenectady County legislator, said in a press release that properties like the ones in line to be demolished are “not welcome in Schenectady County.”
“They hurt the individuals and families who want to invest in our neighborhoods and create hazards for our first responders,” Ruzzo said. “We want safe, livable housing in our community. By getting rid of zombie properties, we stay focused on efforts to boost property values and encourage home ownership.”
The Hamilton Hill neighborhood could see some vacant and blighted properties taken down this summer as well, according to Jennica Huff, a senior project manager at the Community Builders chapter in Albany.
Huff said her organization is currently in the process of obtaining funding to take down more than 20 buildings, starting with three along Delamont Avenue.
Huff said the funding would come from a mixture of grants and state resources.
The total price of the demolitions of those buildings is more than $1 million. Gillen said Metroplex had set aside $300,000 to help funding the demolition for 288 Paige St., 759 Albany St. and 834 Albany St. for The Community Builders project.
Huff said the organization had selected Jackson Demolition Services through a competitive bidding process.
Community Builders acquired those vacant buildings through the city of Schenectady for the second phase of its $40 million project in the neighborhood. The plan is to turn those properties into a mix of apartments and commercial/retail space. Several of them were acquired in November while the others came during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The $20 million first phase of the project, which is turning the St. Columba’s and Horace Mann schools on Craig Street into 58 apartments, is already underway.
Huff said the plan is to demolish three buildings along Delamont Avenue as she said they have been attracting squatters and vagrants, requiring police activity.
“It’s important to address these now because one building is falling in on itself, which presents danger to the whole community,” Huff said.
Those buildings will be taken down in the coming weeks, Huff said, but there is no set timeline. She said other buildings will be taken down in phases.
“The demolition of these properties will enhance [Community Builders’] $20 million investment in Hamilton Hill and lay the groundwork for phase II,” said Susan McCann, regional vice president of development for The Community Builders in the New York and New Jersey region. “By demolishing these vacant and blighted properties, we hope to make a major impact on the Albany Street and Craig Street corridors.”