The board of the Troy Community Land Bank, a city-affiliated nonprofit, voted Wednesday to adopt a plan that calls for the transit-oriented development of four contiguous parcels near the northwest corner of West Glen Ave. and River St. in the North Central neighborhood.
After adopting the plan, the board authorized the purchase of one of those parcels, 879 River St., for $60,000 from Queen and Lee Conyers, who attended the meeting.
“The idea is to kind of marry up with [the Capital District Transportation Authority’s] future plans…and to have a stop in North Central that’s more than just a bus stop on the side of the road,” land bank director Anthony Tozzi told the board. “It’s an actual development that is designed to accommodate folks [who] don’t drive cars.”
The plan for the four-parcel assemblage calls for “construction of one or more mixed-use buildings” with first-floor “commercial, institutional, office, and/or other uses that residents of North Central may access on a more-frequently-than less basis.” Upper floors would accommodate some sort of affordable housing, possibly in partnership with the federal Troy Housing Authority, which wants to “de-densify” the nearby Fallon Apartments.
The plan also says the development should incorporate “recreational and other leisure uses presently lacking for North Central residents.” The project site is within the area the city’s draft comprehensive plan dubs the “Federal Dam District” and targets for “major reinvestment.”
CDTA has plans for a 17-mile bus rapid transit line that would run from Albany’s South End to Waterford and Cohoes. The North Central site would be one of the line’s more than two dozen stops. Another stop could be sited at Capital Roots’ Urban Grow Center, according to recent CDTA planning committee materials. Further south, construction of the line’s would-be centerpiece, the Uncle Sam Transit Center in downtown Troy, now hinges on an eminent domain proceeding brought by the authority against real-estate developer David Bryce.
The vacant, three-story building to the immediate north of the Conyers property, 881 River St., is owned by the city and scheduled for demolition. Just south of the Conyers parcel, the land bank owns a vacant, L-shaped parcel with a West Glen address, where it has already demolished a building.
In the crook of the L-shaped parcel is 871 River St., currently the site of a privately owned bar, Dell’s Place. The parcel appeared on the city’s in-rem foreclosure list published in January. The owners—listed on the assessment roll as James and Tara Pompey of Palmetto, Fl.—have until early April to pay the debt before the property is taken. (On Thursday afternoon, The Alt called two numbers associated with Dell’s Place online, but could not reach anyone.)
The land bank’s ownership of the property next to 871 River St., along with its newly adopted development plan, puts it in a strong position to prevail in the city’s competitive, multi-step property sale process, if the city ends up foreclosing on the parcel. The city’s draft comprehensive plan says it should consider “reducing or removing” costs for the land bank to acquire these kinds of properties.
Though Tozzi, the director, said the land bank’s plan had been “very quickly prepared” the day before the meeting, its core concept has long been in the works. Deputy mayor Monica Kurzejeski, who served as the nonprofit’s founding director, included the parcels in the then-nascent entity’s initial appeal to the state attorney general’s office for funding in 2014. The AG’s office has awarded the nonprofit about $2 million to date, though that total amount has not yet been disbursed.
Board chair Heather King said Wednesday that there had been “a lot of meetings” with CDTA and the state’s affordable housing agency, another potential partner, regarding ideas for the North Central development.
Tozzi emphasized the plan’s “preliminary, conceptual” nature.
“It could be a plan that does [take] root and turn into something, or it could be a plan [where] we run into challenges,” he said. “Obviously the hope with any plan is that it comes to full fruition.”
Since its creation several years ago, the Troy Community Land Bank has acquired nearly three dozen properties, according to data provided to The Alt. The nonprofit has completed 13 full demolitions, which tend to cost around $25,000. Costs related to properties it elects to “stabilize” have ranged from $5,000 to $27,500, depending on the scope of work.
To date, the land bank has sold five buildings and three vacant lots. Its annual meeting will be held on the 21st of this month at 6 P.M. A venue has not yet been finalized (last year’s was The Hangar on the Hudson).
Read the “North Central Bus Rapid Transit Redevelopment Concept Plan” below: