SCHENECTADY — Three newly built affordable housing units have been established in Schenectady’s Eastern Avenue corridor, as the new Windsor Terrace Apartments were unveiled during a ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
The complex at 719-725 Windsor Terrace comprises four two-bedroom units, with the three affordable housing dwellings and one unit rented at market rate.
The $1 million development was funded through $586,000 in state home investment funding, with the nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners also committing $330,000 to the project. The Community Preservation Corporation also provided funding.
RuthAnne Visnauskas, commissioner of the state Homes and Community Renewal agency, said Tuesday that, while it may be limited in scope, the Windsor Terrace project will provide assistance in meeting a need for affordable housing in the community.
“I think that you often see that in neighborhoods like this, that once you get new or renovated homes that people down the block also start renovating or upkeep their homes in a different way,” she said. “So this can really lead to the revitalization that we love to see in neighborhoods across the state. It’s an opportunity for people to live in affordable housing in a place that they call home.”
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy noted that one year prior the city unveiled the rehab of a residence located at 101 Prospect St., across the street from the new complex.
“These are not in a vacuum,” he said on Tuesday. “We go chipping away at it. When you’re standing here today it looks simple and it’s all done. But it’s complicated to line up the financing, the site control and put the package in place with multiple partners. But we’ve got a record of making it happen. It’s really a record that’s fairly impressive.”
Jennica Huff, CEO of Better Community Neighborhoods, said the four units have been leased, with the applicants selected as part of the group’s fair housing marketing plan that was formulated in conjunction with the state.
Resident Eschelle Robinson was the first tenant to sign a lease at the new complex and noted the pride she had in her newly built home.
“I’ve lived in Schenectady for 11 years and, for the first time, I’ve finally found a place that I can honestly say is home,” she said during Tuesday’s event.
Huff said the organization is working on a host of additional projects to provide affordable housing throughout the city.
“Elmer Gardens is a school conversion that’s three blocks down the road and we’re partnering with a developer to convert the school into 51 housing opportunities for seniors,” she said. “We’re doing finance assembly for a 26-unit development in Hamilton Hill and we’re also looking at homeownership possibilities, so there’s a lot going on.”
The Capital Region Land Bank funded the demolition of the site, once a pair of vacated two-family houses.
“When the land bank started just over 10 years ago, we focused here on the Eastern Avenue neighborhood,” said David Hogenkamp, executive director of Capital Region Land Bank. “We identified the blighted buildings that were here and we put our first demolition bid out, which was funded through the New York state Attorney General’s settlement fund.”
The opening of the new apartment complex comes two weeks after the announcement of a partnership between the city, the land bank and Habitat for Humanity Schenectady County to rehab a dilapidated property at 1012 Eastern Ave. for affordable housing.
Visnauskas said that she has observed continued growth in Schenectady in recent years.
“Each time I come back, I see more and more development and more investment,” she said. “That’s true in some places across the state but it’s not true everywhere, so it’s really exciting to see that in a place like Schenectady that has so much rich history.”
Contact Ted Remsnyder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @TedRemsnyder.