Rochester group talks to community about plan to purchase 70 buildings
BY AMANDA FRIES
A plan to rehabilitate roughly 70 buildings along Clinton Avenue in Arbor Hill could help resuscitate the street blanketed with the most vacant buildings of any road in Albany. Rochester-based Home Leasing is looking to purchase 70-plus buildings — a total of 220 units — on Clinton Avenue between Ten Broeck Street and Henry Johnson Boulevard and renovate them as affordable housing, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said. Over the years, buildings along Clinton Avenue have fallen into disrepair — many posted with a red placard with an “X” on it warning first responders that the building is unstable — and been vacated. The road stretches from Ontario Street in West Hill to Ten Broeck Street in Arbor Hill. Roughly 100 of the more than 1,000 dormant buildings in Albany are in this area, according to a city list of vacant buildings. The developer has yet to purchase the buildings and is working to get low-income housing tax credits to help finance the project, Sheehan said. Representatives from Home Leasing could not be immediately reached Sunday. Sheehan said the buildings that will possibly be part of the project are a mix of occupied and unoccupied homes. “The developer is definitely moving forward and doing all the right things to ensure that they’re connecting with the neighborhood and the city, and really being thoughtful about the potential project,” she said. Developers met with the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association last month to field questions from residents, a move that association President Brenda Robinson said impressed her. “One of the things I wanted was for them to engage the community so we all can know what their plans are and when they plan on doing it,” Robinson said. “They were happy to do that.” Arbor Hill community members have often felt left out of the conversation when it comes to development in their neighborhood, or forgotten when planned proposals never got off the ground. Most recently, the community sought a community benefits agreement as part of the sale of the Palace Theatre. It hasn’t been finalized.
However, the openness and accessibility of Home Leasing have things off to a good start in Arbor Hill, Robinson said.
The company boasts a large portfolio of affordable and senior housing complexes across Western New York as well as some in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Its mission is to improve the lives of residents and provide “the best possible homes for our residents while treating our employees, suppliers, neighbors, investors and surrounding communities in a fair and equitable manner.”
Robinson said developers were open to participating in a job fair to attract city residents for employment, and eased worries of the project possibly gentrifying the neighborhood.
“Arbor Hill has just been neglected for so long, and I really think that we have to try and start somewhere,” she said. “We can’t always predict the future, but I’m hoping for the best.”
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