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$18 million affordable housing project proposed for Amsterdam

$18 million affordable housing project proposed for Amsterdam

DePaul Properties will seek low-income tax credits
$18 million affordable housing project proposed for Amsterdam
The site on East Main Street, between Lark and John streets, Amsterdam, would be demolished for a proposed apartment building.
Photographer: Erica Miller

AMSTERDAM -- An $18 million, 60-unit affordable housing apartment building has been proposed for Amsterdam's east end. 

DePaul Properties, a 60-year-old, non-profit group based in Rochester, made a presentation to the city Planning Commission last week for the firm to acquire six parcels of land on East Main Street, tear down the existing buildings and build a three-story apartment with income-based rental units.

Planning Commission Chairman Paul Gavry said three of the parcels needed for the project are city-owned and DePaul has options in place to purchase the three that are privately owned.

"This is a longstanding, really nasty looking set of vacant buildings," Gavry said. "It used to be Lou's Market, years and years ago, there was a florist on the corner. So, that neighborhood is really in need of something, and this is a project that is really ideal for this neighborhood. It would take up that whole block."

DePaul President Mark Fuller said his company builds and manages apartment projects that provide supportive housing services, including on-site housing specialist staff to help tenants access government benefits and community services.

He said DePaul is providing case management services for 40 units in a recently completed affordable housing project in Schenectady owned by a for-profit called Home Leasing Corp.

He said DePaul tends to only go to places where the company's business model is supported. He said part of DePaul's interest in Amsterdam is the belief that the New York state Housing and Community Renewal department is more likely to support low-income housing credits offered by the federal government. Those credits can provide investors a tax reduction benefit of 9 percent of the qualified cost of a new construction project.

DePaul Properties Vice President Gillian Conde said the project is contingent on receipt of the low-income housing tax credits needed to fund the construction of the building.

"The state's been asking us to go to Amsterdam," Fuller said. "We're in Schenectady. We're in Albany, and obviously all of the stuff we do in Rochester and Buffalo. They didn't come to us exclusively, I'm sure [state officials] have been saying that to other providers, but given that Schenectady has been so successful, and it's only 13 miles away, it makes sense for us."

Although the tax credits needed to build the project are called "low-income," the relatively low income levels in Montgomery County and Amsterdam put the income qualifications for the reduced-rent units in the "workforce mid-market housing" range. 

The income rate for qualified tenants would be set at 60 percent of Montgomery County's annual median income level:

• $39,720 for a family of four

• $27,840 for one person. 

Individuals would not be required to move out of units if income rises above those levels while living there. 

The planned units will have $750 per month units for one-bedroom apartments and $900 a month units for two-bedroom units. Included in the rent will be a cable TV common area, Wi-Fi and laundromat services.

The proposal includes 24/7 on site front desk coverage and approximately 100 security cameras on the campus and outdoor courtyard, DePaul officials said.

Mayor Michael Villa said his administration supports the project. 

"The east side of the city has been ignored for decades, and it's critical for us to improve all four corners of the city, all the entry points," Villa said. "The citizens who live in that area, not only is it a food desert, but they have no quality housing whatsoever. This facility will go a long way toward providing housing that's not available."

Villa said even though DePaul is nonprofit the apartment building will not be property tax exempt.

He said DePaul will likely seek a "payment in lieu of taxes agreement" from the local taxing jurisdictions, which would last for a period of years. He said the building would not be assessed as a commercial entity. 

"We will need to go through the planning board process at the city and also have the county review the proposal," Conde said. "We are unsure of when we will apply — it will depend on the process —however NYS HCR has two application rounds a year, one in December and one in April. We hope to be able apply by April 2020," she said. 

Before then DePaul will file for site plan approval for the project and apply for a special use permit to build a multi-family housing project in an area zoned for commercial buildings. 

The company will also need a use variance to build the parking lot it has proposed. 

Conde said if the tax credits are awarded, a realistic timeline for construction would be spring 2021. 


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