SCHENECTADY -- Yates Village may soon be getting an extensive overhaul the Schenectady Housing Authority has been seeking. It was announced on Thursday that the housing authority would receive $9.3 million from the state for the project.
According to a press release, the money would go toward the first phase of redeveloping the 296-unit, low-income housing project, which is expected to cost around $24 million.
The first phase of the redevelopment project will include “substantial rehabilitation” of 25 of the units in the housing project and the demolition and construction of eight buildings that contain a total of 89 apartments. It will also include the construction of a 12,000-square-foot community service facility that will accomodate three non-profit organizations.
The apartment units will be converted into town homes and garden apartments.
An extensive rehabilitation of the housing project was proposed last year by Schenectady Housing Authority Executive Director Rich Homenick, but it lacked funding.
Yates Village, built in 1948, is one of seven properties managed by the housing authority. It's considered one of the largest housing projects in the city. It’s situated in the north side on the edge of the city. It houses around 720 residents, according to Homenick.
Homenick said he doesn’t believe the housing authority has developed any properties since the 1960s.
“My vision was to convert public housing into a more sustainable model,” Homenick said. “The governor’s housing award is the beginning of this transformation." The funding was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Homenick said the entire cost of the first phase of the project is $24 million. He said they do have “soft commitments” from private investors to fund the rest of the first phase. Those investors could then receive a variety of federal and state tax credits for their investment.
Pennrose, an affordable housing developer based in Philadelphia, will be the developer for the project.
During construction, current residents will be assisted in finding other housing through a professional relocation company.
Residents will be given subsidized housing vouchers through the federal Housing and Urban Development to help pay for the housing. They could also be moved to other public housing units, Homenick said.
Ray Gillen, chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority, said Pennrose will be part of the project for the long haul. Pennrose's involvement will allow the property to be put on the tax rolls for the first time, Gillen said.
Gillen said he has been working with the housing authority and Pennrose to develop a payment in lieu of taxes plan that they will present to the city Industrial Development Agency.
This will mean, though, the housing complex will no longer be publicly subsidized.
So, if Yates Village residents want to return to the housing complex, they will be given assistance through the federal Section 8 program, which is based vouchers, Homenick said.
“Anybody who lives there now that wants to return will have that option,” Homenick said. “Some people might refuse because they live somewhere where they are happy and might not want to come back. But some will.”
Once everything is finalized with the first phase of the project, Homenick said they will work with Pennrose to begin finding financing for the second phase.
Homenick said because of the scope of the whole project, he believes it may take four phases to complete.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said he was “very pleased” with the news about the award.
“I spent 10 years as a commissioner on the Schenectady Housing Authority Board,” McCarthy said. “So, I’m interested in what happens there and want to make sure we’re providing safe and decent housing to all residents of the community.”'
Homenick said he hopes construction on the first phase of the project begins in early 2019.