SCHENECTADY — A proposal to construct 60 units of affordable and supportive housing along Crane Street is moving forward after the Planning Commission approved site plans for the project on Wednesday.
The plans call for constructing a three-story building and a four-story building on several vacant lots along the 900 block of Crane Street in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood. Most of the units would consist of studio and one-bedroom apartments.
A 50-space parking lot will be located in the rear of the buildings that will be accessed through a roadway at 933 Pleasant St. Six parking spaces will be reserved for an existing commercial building at 944 Crane St. that houses a laundromat and sits between the soon-to-be-built apartment buildings.
The project was first reviewed by the Planning Commission in November, but plans have since been tweaked after DePaul Properties, the Rochester-based development company heading the project, met with neighbors to gain additional feedback. The company built the Joseph L. Allen Apartments on Albany Street in Hamilton Hill.
Changes include installing a 6-foot vinyl fence along the entire property to create better privacy for neighbors and moving a smoking area at the rear of the property farther from existing residents. A zoning variance was also acquired to reduce the parking lot from the required 71 spots to 50 in order to create additional green space between neighbors and the lot.
The Pleasant Street parking entrance was also reworked to accommodate the parking needs for a neighbor whose property sits directly next to the entrance.
Original plans called for constructing a sidewalk through the property to connect Pleasant Street and Crane Street, but the walkway has been removed at the behest of neighbors who raised concerns about loitering and safety for residents.
A gated walkway requiring an access code will be constructed adjacent to the existing commercial building for staff entering the building. The property will have around-the-clock security on-site to monitor numerous cameras that will be spread throughout the property, according to Daniel Brocht, a senior engineer with LaBella Associates, an engineering firm overseeing the project.
The project has the backing of Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which sold the nine vacant lots to DePaul Properties for $165,301. Seven of the lots have been cleared previously, and demolishing costs for the two remaining parcels will be paid for by DePaul.
The project is expected to cost around $15 million.
Brocht said DePaul is planning to apply for funding through the state’s Department of Housing and Community Renewal and break ground later this year.
A number of public revenue streams are available to the housing project, which will cater to certain income levels and provide supportive care for residents.
The project will dramatically alter the fabric of the Mont Pleasant neighborhood, which has been the focus of redevelopment in recent years. Dozens of blighted buildings have been cleared and a new library branch was opened just up the road in 2019.
Brocht said the project not only fits the neighborhood, but can be used as a cornerstone for future development.
“It’s quite a unique fit, not trying to jam as many units as we can, and implementing something that makes this project fit into the community and yet it stands out. It could be a cornerstone that could be built off of,” he said.
The project also has the backing of neighbors, including Pat Smith, president of the Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Association, who wrote a letter to planning commissioners urging them to approve the project, which she said will “greatly enhance Crane Street and the neighborhood.”
George Dunkley, whose Fourth Avenue home sits adjacent to where the apartments will be built, also voiced his support, saying that DePaul Properties took the time to listen to every concern he raised.
“It blows my mind that here’s a real estate company going out of their way for somebody. They actually improved the value of my property. I’ve never heard of such a thing,” he said.
Across town, the Planning Commission approved plans to construct 15 townhouses along Barrett Street. The plans were submitted by Live In Schenectady, a consortium of local organizations — including The Daily Gazette Co. — and banks created to encourage people to move into the city.
The project was first approved in 2016, but was altered to accommodate a series of smaller homes after an additional parcel was acquired.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.