SCHENECTADY — The conversion is complete: 27 new apartments fill the space once occupied by the Annie Schaffer Senior Center.
The onetime office building and later activity center at 101 Nott Terrace is now a residential building called The Nott. Six apartments are leased and three more leases are pending.
The first tenant moved in last month; as of midweek, four units were occupied and a fifth was scheduled to get its first resident this past Friday.
Developer and construction manager Jonathan Rosenblum of Rosenblum Group said the $5.7 million project included a few unexpected wrinkles, including soil contamination and power line relocation, but held no great surprises.
“The building sat vacant for 12 or 13 years, give or take,” he said.
There was extensive asbestos contamination, but that was known before the planning even began. The long vacancy had caused deterioration but nothing major or critical. Windows were smashed but no one had broken in to vandalize the place or steal copper. A mirrored disco ball still hung from the ceiling of the great room on the second floor.
One big asset of the site was its heavy concrete and steel construction, with 12-inch thick exterior walls.
“The building is very well built … It’s a very solid building,” Rosenblum said.
This solidity allowed Rosenblum to add a third floor. But it also limited what could be done with the interior layout, as walls and support beams couldn’t be moved.
As a result, there are 22 different floor plans, a high number for a 27-unit building.
The apartments are one- and two-bedroom units that run $1,100 to $1,700 a month. Internet service and cable TV are included in the price, as is parking and the use of basement storage lockers, a fitness room, a bike room and a dog-washing station.
So far, interested potential tenants seem to be mainly professionals aged 25 to 40, Rosenblum said, adding: “I would say at least half of them are new to the area, which is great.”
The site has come full circle: In the late 1940s, housing was demolished at the corner of Nott Terrace and Eastern Avenue to make way for a dairy plant and its headquarters.
The site operated as a dairy for barely a quarter century and was known by multiple names in that time — General Ice Cream Corp., National Dairy Products Corp., and Kraftco. It is most often remembered as Sealtest, which was a division of Kraftco. Office operations ceased in 1972 and dairy processing ended in 1974.
The dairy plant was demolished to make way for the high-rise Schaffer Heights apartment building for older adults, and the office complex was converted to the Annie Schaffer Senior Center. The two were connected by an elevated pedestrian walkway, since removed.
The buildings took their name from Henry Schaffer, a Capital Region grocery magnate-turned-philanthropist, and his mother, Annie.
The recreational facility operated for barely a decade — it was one of a handful of Schenectady nonprofits that failed to submit necessary paperwork to qualify for property tax exemptions, and eventually it shut down and was seized for non-payment of taxes.
Rosenblum bought the property from the city in December 2017 and began work in April 2018. The project has benefited from a $750,000 RestoreNY grant from the state, much of which went to asbestos remediation and trash removal, and also gained extensive non-monetary planning assistance from the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.
Rosenblum has been involved for years in property management and development around the region, but it has been mainly commercial real estate — The Nott is his first apartment project. He said the property had a lot going for it.
“Perhaps the biggest thing is location,” he said. “We are pleased to be in Schenectady and in this location … we’re close enough to all that’s going on downtown but we’re not right in the middle of it.”