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Rotterdam zombie property to be demolished

Rotterdam zombie property to be demolished

New house will be built by Habitat for Humanity
Rotterdam zombie property to be demolished
This house at 749 Cramer Ave. in Rotterdam will be torn down.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

ROTTERDAM -- A long-abandoned "zombie" house in a Rotterdam neighborhood will be coming down, to be replaced by a house to be built by Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County.

Schenectady County, the Capital Region Land Bank, and Habitat are working together to coordinate the demolition and replacement of the house at 749 Cramer Ave., at the corner of Denver Street. It has been empty for many years and is subject to county seizure due to unpaid back taxes.

A contract that is expected to win approval from the County Legislature on Tuesday will have the county take title to the house and then transfer it to the land bank for $1. The land bank will then demolition the building and clear the lot, allowing Habitat to build a home for an eligible family.

"This house has been a vacant eyesore in the neighborhood for years," said County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam.

County Legislator Richard Ruzzo, D-Schenectady, who is also chairman of the Capital Region Land Bank, said the arrangement will lead to taxes again being paid on the property.

"The county gets a blighted eyesore taken down at no cost to taxpayers and Schenectady Habitat will gain another property where they can build an affordable, energy-efficient home for a local family," Ruzzo said.

The land bank is managed by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, and Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said it was an example of the work the land bank is doing outside of Schenectady's city core.

"The land bank is well-known in the city, but it is doing a lot in the towns, and this is a great example," Gillen told county legislators at a committee meeting on Wednesday at the County Office Building in Schenectady. "This saves the county the cost of demolition."

The county and Habitat struck a similar deal in 2018 to replace a zombie property on Oaklawn Avenue in Rotterdam, and a three-bedroom home has already been built on that lot.

"This property has been abandoned for a long time. It has been a blight on the neighborhood," said Madelyn Thorne, Habitat's executive director. "Not only will Schenectady Habitat help to put a family into a home of their own, we will also be improving the area for current residents."

Also at committee meetings Wednesday, the county legislators approved $352,455 in funding for reconstruction of two Schenectady County Community College parking lots, both on South Church Street. The existing lots will be replaced in 2020, with improvements including construction of fencing and concrete sidewalks.

While the work will be done under auspices of the college, Metroplex will pay half the cost, and state aid is expected to reimburse the other half of the cost.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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