SCHENECTADY — A long-standing eyesore at a main entrance to Hamilton Hill came down Thursday, the first of 22 demolitions that will make way for a $40 million neighborhood project.
Thursday’s demolition of the derelict 11,290-square-foot brick apartment building at the corner of Paige and Albany streets will cost $177,000, the largest single piece of the $1.1 million demolition budget, according to The Community Builders.
A five-story, 58-unit apartment building with first-floor office space will be built on the site, after the rubble is removed, said Jennica Huff, senior project manager of the Boston-based nonprofit housing developer.
Phase I of The Community Builders’ Hamilton Hill project already is underway at a cost of $20 million, the major portion of which is conversion of the former St. Columba’s and Horace Mann schools on Craig Street into 54 apartments and construction of a string of single-family houses on Stanley Street.
Phase II will run $40 million and entails the demolition of 22 buildings, including the one knocked down Thursday at 288 Paige St. A low-rise 21-unit apartment building will be built on the site of a former dry cleaner at 830 Albany St., and more townhouses will be constructed on Stanley Street.
“It’s exciting to see it coming to fruition,” Huff said of Thursday's demolition, noting all the time that has gone into gathering community input, lining up funding and drawing up plans.
One result of the community input: The Community Builders heard complaints that there were too few coin-operated laundries in the city, and none at all in the Hamiton Hill neighborhood, so it will build space for one at 830 Albany St. and seek a vendor to run it.
Huff said the 22 demolitions should be complete by autumn. The work will be more expensive and difficult in snowy weather, and the buildings are unstable and/or unsightly, so there is motivation to get the work done. The poster child was 288 State St.
“It wasn’t a safe building,” she said, recalling the collapsing ceilings and stairs she saw on her last foray inside, two or three years ago.
“I didn’t even go beyond the ground floor level because there was no safe way to get to the upper floors,” she said.
The Capital Region Land Bank is paying for much of the demolition; the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority is contributing a smaller amount.
The value of the project, besides its individual components, is the potential to create momentum toward revitalizing time-worn neighborhoods, Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said.
Some of the $130,000 Metroplex contribution to Phase II is earmarked specifically for the 288 Paige St. demolition, Gillen said.
“This one on Paige has been a target for a long time. Going up Albany [Street], it’s the first thing you see.
“The idea is to continue going up Albany (with redevelopment),” Gillen said. “It really starts to create a corridor effect. It starts to show momentum.”
He noted that 288 Paige St. is squarely between the recently constructed Joseph L. Allen Apartments and the recently renovated Summit Towers on Albany Street.