Two Ribbon Cuttings Cap Affordable Housing Effort in Albany
- Aug 15, 2011
Albany, N.Y.–On Tuesday, July 12, officials of Omni Housing Development attended a pair of ribbon cuttings marking completion of two different affordable apartment renovations in the Albany area. The two developments recognized were a gut rehabilitation of Van Rensselaer Village in the city of Watervliet, and the completion of South End Revitalization Phase II in Albany.
“We had two different ribbon cuttings in the same day to capture the range of what we do, and to accommodate the schedule of the commissioner of the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal,” Duncan Barrett, chief operating officer of Albany-based Omni Housing Development, tells MHN.
Van Rensselaer Village is an 81-unit complex in 17 buildings across six acres. Built in 1972, the HUD 236 project was acquired by Omni Housing Development after a foreclosure. It required a complete gut rehabilitation.
“This was a project that had been very poorly constructed from the beginning,” Barrett says. “There were actually squirrels living in the cavity comprising the outside wall between the siding and sheetrock. And the buildings had flat roofs, a very inappropriate roofing design for this climate.”
Omni stripped the buildings down to their frames, rebuilt the interior walls so units could be provided with a very high-efficiency heating envelope, and gave the buildings new mechanicals and roofs.
“Because this was previously a HUD- subsidized project, we had an obligation to HUD, and to the residents and the state agency that allocated the tax credit,” Barrett says of the 18-month-long project. “We did the renovations two or three buildings at a time, moving the existing tenants into renovated units, until we had renovated all the units.”
The second project, South End Revitalization Phase II, is in an Albany neighborhood immediately south of the state capitol, called the South End, Barrett says. It involved completion of 44 units in less than a year. “This was a different kind of project, part of a decade-long program to revitalize and renew a very decayed district, one that had fallen on hard times in the city of Albany. This is the rehabilitation of historic row housing built from the 1860s to the 1880s, as well as infill housing. … The challenge was that this is an historic neighborhood, so we had to preserve the buildings in accordance with rehabilitation standards for historic buildings administered by the U.S. National Parks Service.”
The project was financed with federal low-income housing tax credits and a soft loan with a low interest rate from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Barrett reports.
“Both of these projects are transformational for the communities they are in,” he says. “And they contribute to the welfare of the lives of the tenants as well as the economic development of the surrounding communities.”