Schenectady, Land Bank announce $13 million investment in Hamilton Hill neighborhood


SCHENECTADY — A partnership between the city, the Capital Region Land Bank and a pair of local developers will spur a $13 million investment in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood, turning nearly 20 vacant parcels into 41 new affordable housing units, Mayor Gary McCarthy announced on Friday. 

Under the partnership, MLB Construction and AIK Property Group will turn a total of 19 parcels along Summit Avenue — including 18 city-owned properties and one county-owned lot — into 41 new housing units that will be available to first-time home buyers and potential homeowners that already live in the community, according to a news release.

McCarthy said he plans to ask the City Council to approve an agreement that will allow the Land Bank to purchase the city-owned lots at its next committee meeting on Monday. Once the agreement is approved, the city’s Department of Development and Land Bank will work with the two developers to build the new homes that will feature modern amenities and energy efficient heating and cooling systems. 

The Land Bank will demolish eight vacant structures located at 417, 420, 422, 502, 504, 528, 546 and 550 Summit Ave. to make way for the new construction. The remaining lots are located along Summit Avenue, Westover Avue, Hamilton Street and Mumford Street. 

“We are very excited to announce this new partnership that will create the opportunity for our residents to realize the American dream of homeownership,” McCarthy said in a press release. 

AIK Property Group, a Black, family-owned business, has a track record of restoring once blighted properties into new homes throughout the city. The company has rehabbed vacant properties along Howard Street and Williams Street, among other locations.

“The Summit Avenue affordable housing project embodies the mission of AIK,” Pamela Swanigan, the company’s co-owner and director of business development, said in a statement. “We believe this will create a pathway for families to achieve the American Dream, empower a change in family legacy, and strengthen the economic future of both the residents and the community in which they live.”

Richard Ruzzo, chairman of the Capital Region Land Bank and a Schenectady County legislator, said the project is essential to the values of the Land Bank and praised the development teams behind the construction. 

“This is an experienced development team that is ready to go to work to create homeownership opportunities that improve our community and build wealth for our residents. These are core values for the Land Bank,” he said.

Last year, the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development increased the Fair Market Rents by an average of 10% nationwide, a steeper increase than normal due to the worst inflation in 40 years.

In Schenectady, lawmakers briefly discussed the potential of adopting some type of rent stabilization measure as a way to mitigate the impacts of growing rental costs, that has forced some from their homes. 

The idea of rent control has been fiercely opposed by landlord groups in the city. Law makers held a town-hall style meeting to gather input from residents on the issue last year, but no legislation has been introduced at this time. 

Marva Issacs, president of the Hamilton Hill Neighborhood Association, said she welcomes the new development, but raised concerns about absentee landlords and investment dealers swooping in to buy the properties only to sell them at a higher cost or charge residents high rent — two ongoing problems the neighborhood has faced in recent years. 

“Something has to be done about it,” she said. 

The Summit Avenue project is the latest undertaking by the Land Bank in the neighborhood, which includes an ongoing effort to turn an old car dealership along Albany Street into a grocery store.

In recent years, the neighborhood has seen a series of new apartment complexes built, including those along Craig and Albany streets. 

Earlier this month, the Land Bank demolished a pair of vacant restaurants along Van Vranken Avenue to clear the way for future development in the city’s northside neighborhood, and sold a blighted property along Van Antwerp Road in Niskayuna and cleared the path to demolish vacant structures in Delanson and Rotterdam. 

The Schenectady City Council will meet Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.


Categories: News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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