The Harriman campus, PILOTless

harriman office campus sculpture

Real estate fact of the day: the two parcels that make up the Harriman State Office Campus are assessed by the city of Albany at a combined value of $674.4 million.

Of course, the property is tax exempt because it's owned by the state. A trio of local state legislators -- Neil Breslin, Pat Fahy, and John McDonald -- announced today they're pushing legislation that would require the state to provide the city of an annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the campus for 10 years that would be worth 1.75 percent of the assessed value -- roughly $11.7 million.

About 60 percent of the property in Albany is tax exempt. And this isn't the first time local reps have tried to get a Harriman PILOT. In 2008 David Paterson vetoed a bill that would provided such a payment, citing the "economic environment" (the state budget was (even more) messed up at the time) and how the city benefits from state employment. It would appear this current bill doesn't have a great chance, either, considering the lieutenant governor has been telling mayors "there's just no money." [News10 2008] [State of Politics]

The Harriman campus is 350 acres and includes more than 3 million square feet of office space, according to a press release from the trio of legislators. All that land in such a prime spot -- in uptown Albany, between some of the city's nicest neighborhoods and UAlbany, with easy access to I-90 -- has what would seem like a ton of potential. But as the Biz Review notes today, the redevelopment plan aimed at privatizing a portion of the campus is basically adrift without anyone at the wheel. (Also: whatever happened to the plan that that reportedly would include a new Albany High School on the campus?) [Biz Review] [TU 2011]

As it is now, the Harriman campus is like an island of offices floating in a lake of parking, connected to the mainland via a series of often confusing exits. Incidentally, it is a nice place to walk your dog/play out your post-apocalyptic "where did everyone go?" fantasies on the weekend.

That new building?
Oh, yeah... that new building along Washington Ave: it's lab space for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, specifically the New York State Food Laboratory and the State Metrology Laboratory.

The original version of this post made the Fahy/Fahey mistake. Sorry about that. Homophones 1, Greg 0.

Find It

Harriman State Office Campus
1200 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12203


For a bunch of reasons, I'm willing to bet that person is Pat Fahy. Not Cathy Fahey.

And if Cuomo makes this happen, Jennings will be Mayor for life. Sorry everyone else. Have you heard about Cohoes?

AOA Greg: Fahy/Fahey -- you're right (obviously). My brain apparently took the day off and forgot to tell me. Fixed. Thanks.

I do love living in the city of Albany but it's things like this (ie a huge tax exempt parcel of land in a prime location) that make me feel like a chump for doing so. What an albatross the Harriman Campus is, pleasant dog walking aside.

It is a shame that we don't have the leadership, locally, and especially from the state (aka Governor Cuomo) to seize the opportunity to redevelop the Harriman Campus, bringing much needed tax relief to the city of Albany and allowing for sustainable economic development in the region’s core (rather than plowing over more green space in Saratoga County or the Pine Bush). Cuomo keeps claiming he doesn’t have the money to help our upstate cities cope with the structural issues that force cities to have to compete with their neighboring suburbs for limited economic development, so if his purse is empty, he needs to at the very least start taking leadership on the issues that can help our cities and take hold of those opportunities that he can put his finger on.

Privatizing the Harriman Campus would be one such opportunity for the Governor to coordinate, allowing Albany to put a significant property back on the tax roll (as the article claims worth about $600 million) and free up a prime space for sustainable development within the city (the Nano complex is running out of room and Patroon Creek is all spoken for). Beyond the need to potentially relocate state campus workers (like myself) or lease space from the redeveloped property, he wouldn’t have to issue one dime to Albany, but allow the city to harness the free market to help manage its affairs; rather than have ol’ Jerry beg for more PILOT money, which I do feel the city deserves given all the property the state takes from us city tax payers at our expense, but why issue PILOTS when the state can just as easily free the land up.

Thus far, Governor Cuomo has been a poor proponent for Albany and poor leader on helping maintain and enhance our upstate urban centers. There are clear solutions (albeit, they would require a lot of work), so let’s stop whining that the state can cough up more dough and get to work.

Forget all of your snoring tax talk and let's focus on what it really should be: a race track. I was told this was tried many years ago and that a bicycle fatality is the main reason it was stopped but think about it...

What if we were to bring in a lower-level circuit to test out how it goes? Once, twice a year? If it goes well over the yeras and we find people to put enough money up, who knows what we could bring in. Just imagine F1 Racing - Monaco, Tokyo, Albany...

The inner loop is almost exactly two miles. You could use the out loop as the pit area. The only residential area is on the southern side but that's far enough away from the inner loop. Keep the buildings in the center as is and shut it down for a week once a year.

I'm on to something here. Someone get Jennings and Cuomo on the line...

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