Planning for a new Sheridan Hollow

Interesting: a coalition of groups, orgs, and firms is holding a charrette -- "a multi-day collaborative planning event" -- this week to create a plan for transforming the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood in Albany. From the blurbage:

The goal of a charrette is to identify the priorities for a community redevelopment project, create practical designs that address these priorities, incorporate feedback from local residents, and serve as a kick-off for the project. This planning session will help create strategies for eliminating blight and promoting re-investment in an important and historically significant Albany neighborhood.
In order to encourage as much community participation and input as possible, the charrette will be open to the public each day, with several specific public meetings focusing on transportation, housing, sustainability/environment, urban design/historic preservation, economic development, and parks and recreation.

Here's the schedule of events -- many are open to the public. The charrette is organized by Capital District Habitat for Humanity, the Touhey Home Ownership Foundation, the City of Albany, 3tarchitects, and Housing Visions, Inc. (Press release is embedded after the jump.)

Sheridan Hollow is the neighborhood in the ravine between the Capitol and Arbor Hill. It has a long history -- much of it downtrodden. There was an infamous garbage incinerator there during the 80s and early 90s.

More recently, though, there's been a lot of development at the eastern end of the neighborhood, including residential. There are the 24 condos at 17 Chapel, the 43 apartments planned as part of the Boyd Printing Co. building conversion ("The Monroe") at 47 Sheridan, and 13 units at 4-6 Sheridan.

Sheridan Hollow Design Charrette Press Release


Just how exactly was the "public invited"? Seems like a lot of effort went into this except for letting people who live in the area know about it.

Look at any neighborhood in Albany that is doing well. What is the key ingredient? Home ownership. Homes that individuals bought and invest in. Doesn't look like those people are represented in all the groups taking part in this.

Typical. Working with the people of the city takes some effort and new ways of thinking. So it doesn't happen.

As someone who lives Sheridan Hollow adjacent I think the one thing that would really bring people to this neighborhood is having walkable, open businesses on the weekends. There are tons of businesses within walking distance of my place in Ten Broeck, but nearly all are closed when I am actually at my house - on evenings and weekends. It is difficult to move to a neighborhood where it is tough to be a pedestrian. If we could convince Pearl St.'s cute little delis and coffee shops (which maybe be good or may be terrible, I wouldn't know, I have never been home when they are open) to stick around for when people who actually live in the neighborhood are there around, it'd be a whole different place. Also code monkey: I am a renter, but I still feel an investment in the neighborhood where I live and consider myself highly involved and engaged. Just because you don't own doesn't mean you don't care.

Code Monkey needs to go there and see what is happening, as his comments are uninformed. Habitat for Humanity and the Touhey Home Ownership Foundation are all about home ownership. And, as far as people in the community knowing about it....every property in the Hollow was leafleted, and those who did the door-to-door also talked with the residents. At the kickoff yesterday, of the 70 or so people who showed up at least half were from the neighborhood. Additionally, the charrette is open all day, everyday to anyone, and is open into the evening for those who work. So I hope Mr. C. Monkey stops by and gets his/her voice heard.

"Just because you don't own doesn't mean you don't care."

Show me a neighborhood that has been revitalized by renters? I'd be more than happy to see examples. I don't know of any. They certainly are part of the mix of any successful neighborhood but I don't think you will turn around Sheridan Hollow without people who invested in their homes. Go hang out on Knox street in Park South and see if the big corporate apartment project has changed the neighborhood. The city and others like big projects where they can give money to developers while ignoring what really changes neighborhoods.

Habitat for Humanity and the Touhey Organization are fine but they are not the type of thing I'm talking about. Who is looking to attract individual investors and owners who buy properties and fix them up themselves? That is not what those organizations do.


Here is they type of response I would suggest in the future.

"The city of Albany realizes that while large projects like Albany Med/park south are important to our city, we also have a strong community of small business people who are investing in the existing building stock in albany. We understand that to succeed in Sheridan Hollow we need everyone we can get involved and with this in mind we have compiled a list of everyone who has pulled a building permit to renovate a building in Albany in the last five years and have invited the to this event."

What do you think?

ADS, you are exactly right that the Sheridan Hollow Charrette is focusing on homeownership, reinvestment in the neighborhood and bringing together community partners to develop a comprehensive redevelopment plan. Last night's kick-off meeting was standing room only, filled with subject area experts and key stakeholders from the community including residents and business owners. Habitat homes, along with private homeownership opportunities, return derelict properties to the city's tax roll to allow for improved services.Throughout the public charrette this week, there are special subject matter sessions focusing on economic development, housing, urban design, sustainability, historic preservation, parks and recreation, transportation, etc. We've reached out exhaustively to various stakeholders to attract a wide and diverse range of participants. It is our hope that the charrette will gather ideas and visions for the neighborhood and turn those ideas into buildable, implementable plans. We welcome current and future small business owners to be a part of this process. Community residents and businesses were visited, flyers were distributed to every property within the focus area and numerous other community organizations spread the word to their constituents. Parties interested in renovating and rehabbing existing properties and building are an integral component of the future of Sheridan Hollow.

Make your voice heard! Join us this week at the Hampton Inn to share your ideas about the project. The charrette is only as good as the input we get from the community.

Christine Hmiel
Capital District Habitat for Humanity

There's a nice little peek inside the charette on flickr, courtesy Christine H.

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