In progress: the Albany Barn

Saint Joes Hall exterior.jpg

At North Swan and 2nd.

Remember that Albany Barn project at St. Joseph's Academy in Arbor Hill? The one that combines subsidized apartments for artists with rehearsal suites, studio space and offices for arts groups and not-for-profits? Well, the apartments are starting to take shape, and later this month the Barn will be opening the building for a night of tours and a fundraiser with the Chefs Consortium.

We got a tour of the building recently, and some details on how plans are firming up, from project founder Jeff Mirel and Albany Barn executive director Kristen Holler.

The renovation of St. Joseph's Academy includes 22 live/work apartments, along with studio, rehearsal, and office space that will be available for rent to artists, art organizations and not-for-profits in the Capital Region.

Mirel says the estimated cost of this portion of the project is around $10 million. And it's fully funded through a combination of sources, including low-income housing tax credits, historic housing tax credits, a Restore New York grant, and other grants.

Albany Barn Preview -- Jeff and Kristen.jpg
Albany Barn founder Jeff Mirel and executive director Kristen Holler.

To get an apartment, artists will first have to meet income guidelines. Then they'll have to go before a board of arts administrators from around the Capital District. Mirel says the evaluation of the artists won't be based on whether the panel likes an artist's work. Instead, the artists, musicians, actors, playwrights and others who apply for apartments will be asked about plans for their art and plans to reach out to the community.

"That's part of the goal of the project," says Mirel. "To get artists involved in the community."

The one bedroom and studio loft apartments are starting to get framed out. They're bright airy spaces.

Here's a look inside some of the apartments:

A second floor one bedroom:

Albany Barn Preview -- Loft of corner apt.jpg
The galley kitchen goes under the lofts there will be storage space above and a small bathroom with a stall shower to the right.

Albany Barn Preview - Corner Apartment Windows.jpg
The corner apartments have incredible light.

Albany Barn Preview - Corner Apt. Bedroom.jpg

A 3rd floor corner studio:

Albany Barn Preview - Corner Studio Windows.jpg

Albany Barn Preview - Corner Studio.jpg

Another one bedroom:

Albany Barn Preview - Loft 1  kitchen area.jpg
Kitchen and loft area

Albany Barn Preview -View from 2nd floor bedoom.jpg

Apartment rents will run between $600 and $675 a month, but Holler says they'll be partially subsidized. So artists who can't afford the full rent amount will only have to pay 30 percent of their income. This, say Holler and Mirel, will help with another goal of the project: giving the artists the time and space to make art and still support themselves.

The apartments won't make money for the Barn -- the rent for those will go to HUD, but Mirel expects the project will be able to support itself through the rental of the studio space.

There will be two floors with rehearsal suites, office space, and a fully-equipped digital media studio that will be available for rental.

Here's the area where the suites and offices will go:

Albany Barn Preview -Studio and Suite Space.jpg

Albany Barn Preview - Studio and suites other side.jpg
Suites and offices will go on the first and second floors.

Here's a look at the plans for the project and some before videos and photos of the space.

The Barn folks have had a few fundraisers to support the hiring of an executive director and one AmeriCorps employee. They're now working on raising money for phase two of the project.

"What we have to fundraise for," says Mirel "is the fit up of the commercial space... musical equipment and sound for the recording space."

He says they also need a bit of a cushion to keep the project running for the first few years, until the offices and rehearsal spaces are rented on a regular basis. They're expecting it will cost another $850,000-$1 million to get them the rest of the way.

"It's an $11 million project," says Mirel, "but we've got $10 million already. We just need a little more to push us across the finish line."

You can see the building for yourself at The Albany Barn's Build Up fundraiser on Friday, June 28 from 5-9 pm, when they'll be offering tours. The event will also include a build-your-own slider contest, sliders and sandwiches from the Chefs Consortium, craft beer from Ravens Head in Cohoes, wine from Harmony House, and spirits from Albany Distilling Co.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Raising the Albany Barn
+ Inside St. Joseph's Academy (2011)

Find It

The Albany Barn St. Joseph's Academy
North Swan St and 2nd Street
Albany, NY 12210

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