SCHENECTADY — Contractors are preparing to build an 88-unit apartment complex in the northernmost part of Schenectady, where rent will be targeted at “workforce” levels, affordable to people with moderate incomes.
Reserve at Towpath Trail will occupy space off North End Drive that was the site of a townhouse project halted after only a few townhouses were built.
It will comprise four 22-unit buildings with surface parking. At least 51% of the apartments will be reserved for people who earn less than 80% of the area median income.
Completion and occupancy are scheduled for mid-2022. Leasing information will be available through Hudson Partners Development, a Schenectady real estate development firm.
Joining with Hudson Partners are Community Preservation Corporation, which sold the site to Hudson in 2016 and is providing $9.4 million in financing, and Enterprise Community Partners, which is investing $4.5 million through its Opportunity Zone Fund.
The Opportunity Zone program waives capital gains taxes on profits derived from investments in designated Opportunity Zones, almost all of which are low-income census tracts.
“The premise of OZ is to have private capital flow to census tracts that just were not seeing private capital,” Julia Shin, vice president and fund manager for Enterprise’s Opportunity Zones Funds, said Wednesday.
Judged just by that metric, the program championed by President Donald Trump has been a success, she said: Billions have been invested in these areas.
But Enterprise is trying to measure and monitor the actual impact of these investments so it can report the results to its investors, she said.
Reserve at Towpath Trail will be the first project graded by a system Enterprise is developing that will evaluate the demographics of the surrounding community before and after the project; guard against displacement of existing residents (which won’t be an issue here because the land is vacant); the transformative impact the project has, if any, on things like housing availability, employment access and proximity of healthcare; and engagement of the surrounding community.
The actual impact of Opportunity Zones has been harder to gauge than the dollars flowing into them, Shin said, but the Opportunity Fund Evaluation Framework will be a step toward accomplishing that.
“A lot of thought has gone into it and we’re still tinkering with it,” she said.
At least 51% of tenants and probably more will have an income ceiling of 80% of the median income in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area, Shin said, and that requirement will extend through the roughly 11 years that Enterprise maintains its investment.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority is providing a 10-year declining payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement through which the project will pay the equivalent of 50% of its property tax liability in year one and 95% in year 10, then be fully taxed in year 11.
Additionally, the tax assessment will remain as vacant land until the project is complete in return for the developers finishing North End Drive to full city specifications.
The project’s name is a nod to the old Erie Canal towpath, which ran along some of the same route as the nearby bike trail now follows.
The start of work on the project is timed so that construction should be able to continue when the snow flies, Shin said: “We are moving quite expeditiously so we can get this up and enclosed before the winter months.”