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Schenectady to demolish eight more derelict buildings

Schenectady to demolish eight more derelict buildings

Demolition tally nearing 200 in fight against blight
Schenectady to demolish eight more derelict buildings
These houses at 410 and 412 Schenectady St. in Hamilton Hill are scheduled for demolition.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY — City officials announced Friday that eight more derelict buildings will be demolished, and that new uses have already been found for six of the eight sites.

The demolitions continue a long-running effort to rid the city of vacant houses in poor condition, in the belief that they spread blight through neighborhoods. Nearly 200 such properties have been demolished in recent years by a partnership of the city, Capital Region Land Bank and the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, Mayor Gary McCarthy said.

He said that this new round of demolitions is funded by the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which this year has provided a pot of $2.8 million to the city for assorted development initiatives.

Bids from contractors seeking to perform the demolition work are due April 24 and the city hopes to have the eight sites leveled before summer is over. McCarthy said the city has an idea what the work will cost, but he declined to disclose it, because when he’s done that in the past, it has seemed to skew the bidding process.

The city’s announcement Friday that eight vacant houses will be demolished comes on the heels of the state’s announcement Thursday that Better Neighborhoods Inc. will renovate 20 vacant houses.

BNI will select the best of the houses owned by the city and the Land Bank, fix them up, and sell them to low- and moderate-income buyers. The city is taking the opposite tack from BNI, but the two plans go hand in hand, the mayor said — saving what can be saved and removing what cannot.

“These are all ones we have taken through foreclosure and they are really the worst of the worst,” he said.

BNI will concentrate on properties in the Crane Street and Eastern Avenue corridors, while seven of the eight properties the city will demolish are in Hamilton Hill.

The idea is that concentrating efforts in one area helps create momentum there, McCarthy said. He said neighboring property owners would be more inclined to make improvements to their houses if they see nearby derelict hulks being demolished.

“It’s trying to do that concentration that people can see and hopefully generate that interest and excitement in that area,” the mayor said.

The eight structures to be demolished are:

  • 9 Backus St.  
  • 1706 Carrie St.
  • 333 Georgetta Dix Plaza
  • 410, 412, and 511 Schenectady St.
  • 955 Strong St.
  • 410 Summit Ave.

The Carrie Street property is the only one of the eight not on Hamilton Hill. But it is nonetheless part of a cluster: Habitat for Humanity, which will build a new house on the site, has several other projects nearby.

The properties on Strong and Backus streets will be purchased by neighbors to expand their yards. New Choices Recovery Center will use 410 Summit Ave. as a garden and meditation space while 410 and 412 Schenectady St. will become Phoenix Walks, a Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge initiative by The Schenectady Foundation that will create an art walk through the Hamilton Hill community to include street murals, sculptures and flower gardens.

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