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What you need to know for 02/28/2017

Clinic offered for those interested in buying vacant Schenectady homes

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Clinic offered for those interested in buying vacant Schenectady homes

A clinic will take place Thursday in Schenectady for those interested in purchasing vacant homes.
Clinic offered for those interested in buying vacant Schenectady homes
Pulsating lights illuminate the windows of three abandoned properties at 852-854 Eastern Avenue on March 24.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

A clinic will take place Thursday in Schenectady for those interested in purchasing vacant homes.

The workshop is among those planned in Schenectady, Albany and Troy in conjunction with the “Breathing Lights” art project. Thursday’s event will help prospective buyers learn about what goes into rehabbing vacant buildings.

Purchasing a vacant home can make sense for some people, but they should know what they’re getting into, organizers said.

“A $5,000 building is very alluring, but we want people to be really well-informed and then take on the project,” said Barb Nelson, executive director of Troy-based TAP Inc., one of the groups involved with the clinics.

The first reclamation clinic is Wednesday night in Troy. The second is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in Schenectady. The event is free and will take place in the Schenectady County Business Center, located at 920 Albany St.

Oftentimes, vacant buildings look no different from other homes from the outside, Nelson said. But conditions on the inside can be poor. If a building has been vacant for a year or more, it’s likely had copper or wires stolen, heating systems damaged from lack of use or other problems.

“You can end up owning what you think is a deal because you get it for $10,000 or less, but you’ll spend more to fix it than the building will be worth when you’re done,” Nelson said.

The reclamation clinics are intended to give people the tools needed to make good decisions, she said. They’ll cover when to employ an engineer, contractor, designer or other professional, what to do on your own and how the zoning review process works.

Vacant buildings are prevalent in the Capital Region, an issue brought to light by the “Breathing Lights” public art project, which illuminated hundreds of empty homes in Schenectady, Albany and Troy throughout October and November.

Nelson estimated there are about 2,500 vacant homes in the Capital Region at any given time, with close to 1,000 of those in Schenectady alone.

By raising awareness about the issue, and ultimately putting people back in the homes, it can help stabilize communities plagued by blighted properties, Nelson said.

It’s important to address the issue now, Nelson said, before the homes are left to fall in on themselves and create even bigger problems.

“It’s home ownership that stabilizes our neighborhoods, and that really vests people in a neighborhood and gets us to really care about what’s going on with our communities,” she said.

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