Jump to the main section.

Photos

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_01.jpg
Looking down Sheridan Ave toward downtown.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_02.jpg
Sheridan Hollow is so close to so many things in downtown Albany. That tall building in the background is Commerce Plaza, which is right near the Capitol.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_03.jpg
The homes built as part of the first phase of the Habitat project.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_04.jpg

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_05.jpg
This mixed-use building will include new offices for Habitat.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_06.jpg
The build that will stand atop this foundation will have commercial space.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_07.jpg
One of the new single family homes.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_08.jpg
Living room/kitchen area on the first floor.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_09.jpg

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_10.jpg

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_11.jpg
There are three bedrooms upstairs.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_12.jpg
The front bedroom includes a little porch.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_13.jpg

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_14.jpg
Here's the homeowner, Sheila Y. Wright, along with her sons Sharod Black (on the left) and Chilo Gonzalez.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_15.jpg
This is one of the two-family homes. There's rental unit on the bottom, and a homeowner duplex on top.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_16.jpg
Rental unit kitchen.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_17.jpg
Homeowner living room/kitchen.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_18.jpg
There are three bedrooms upstairs.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_19.jpg

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_20.jpg
There's a porch in the back with steps to an area that will include parking and some green space.

Habitat_Sheridan_Hollow_2015-May_21.jpg
A bonus for the row of homes: there's a city park that behind them, along the base of the hill.

Before and during

Here are two "sliding" before/during photos from the site.

Constructing a new future for Sheridan Hollow

Habitat for Humanity Sheridan Hollow project

The most interesting real estate project in Albany -- and maybe the whole Capital Region -- is in Sheridan Hollow. Yep, that Sheridan Hollow, the neighborhood that has so often been bypassed, overlooked, and otherwise left with the short end of the stick throughout the city's history.

So what's happening? Habitat for Humanity Capital District and a group of partners are in the process of building a new core at the heart of the neighborhood.

Here are a few reasons why that's so interesting...

There are a bunch of photos from the project site above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

It's in Sheridan Hollow

Google Map of 42.657104,-73.7589976

The Sheridan Hollow neighborhood is one of the in-between places -- specifically, it's located in a ravine between Arbor Hill and the area around the Capitol.

Probably in part because of this location, Sheridan Hollow has struggled economically, not just in recent decades -- the median household incomes for Census tracts that include that neighborhood were roughly $17,000 and $25,000 in the 2010 Census -- but for centuries.

Through those many decades the neighborhood has been the home for a succession of immigrant generations and people scraping to get by. And progress moved slowly. One historical example: researchers reported a few years back there's evidence that people living in Sheridan Hollow suffered from parasite infestations during the 19th century for many decades longer than residents of other parts of the city, probably because of inferior infrastructure and utilities. (People there were still using outhouses into the 1920s.)

The neighborhood's history has also included a viaduct built to carry people over it, and later in the 1980s a steam generating plant there was converted to burn garbage. (The plant is still there -- it's no longer burning garbage.)

So, Sheridan Hollow hasn't gotten many breaks through its history. That it's now getting investment and new development is important and noteworthy.

This project is aiming to develop a core for the neighborhood

The first phase of the Habitat for Humanity Capital District project in Sheridan Hollow includes the construction of 20 houses -- 10 single family and 10 two-families. A second phase will include another 10 single-family houses.

The project also includes mixed-use space that will eventually house Habitat's offices. And there will be commercial space that's slated for uses that include a restaurant. (There's also some hope that a grocery store might eventually take up one of the commercial spaces.)

Zooming out a little bit, an organization called Housing Visions, which is working alongside Habitat, is building 57 rental units across Sheridan Ave, Orange Street, and Swan Street.

So all together, that's an addition of almost 100 housing units, plus new commercial and office space for the neighborhood.

It's a mixed-income addition to the downtown residential trend

There's been a lot attention for downtown residential development in Albany over the last few years. And that's good -- many of the spaces that have been converted probably weren't going to find other uses, people weren't already living there, and the downtown area could use the influx of development. But these residential conversations have also almost universally resulted in units with relatively high rents.

"We already have some really great apartments and condos [in downtown Albany at places such as] at 17 Chapel and The Monroe," Christine Schudde, Habitat for Humanity Capital District's director of development, said to us Tuesday. "So to have, just a few blocks away, homes that are built exclusively for hard-working lower-income families, to make sure those families aren't pushed out to the fringes of the urban community, to make sure folks working in our service sectors have a place to live that's really close to where they work, to help them have a life/work balance, just to have a really vibrant community filled with all sorts of different folks, we think this location is just the best and that it's going to help bring back all the rest of the downtown area."

Habitat homeowners typically have incomes that range from 40-80 percent of the area's median income. Schudde says that means a family of four could earn up to about $62,000 a year and still qualify for one of the homes. And through a partnership with the Touhey Homeownership Foundation, the project is also building homes that allow incomes up to 100 percent of the median income, which opens the way for a broader mix of household incomes. As with any Habitat project, the homeowners contribute sweat equity to the project and go through a financial education course.

"Everyone brings something different to a community," Schudde said. "And you have young professionals living next to young families, living next to retired folks. We have single folks who are moving into homes. So having that mix of backgrounds and mix of incomes, we really think we're creating sustainable communities."

It's helping people gain a foothold in the real estate market


Sheila Y. Wright, with her sons Sharod Black (on the left) and Chilo Gonzalez

Becoming a homeowner is a big step in anyone's life. But when you've struggled financially, it can be an an important inflection point in the story of your family.

"I always wanted to be a homeowner, I just never thought it could happen for me," Sheila Y. Wright told us Tuesday while standing in the row home that will soon belong to her. She was telling us how she'd pass the Habitat site on her way home from her job at Albany Med. "And I was just looking, and just watch. I'd come by the next day and tell myself, 'I'll go in the next day.' And one day I heard a voice say, You're worthy. And that, for me, did it."

To understand how big a deal that was for Wright, you have to know a little bit about the path that brought her to this point. As she explained us, she's gone through rough stretches in her life. She's made mistakes. And even as she's paid for those mistakes, and found the strength to work her way onto an admirable path, it wears on a person. It shakes your confidence that you're worthy of this sort of achievement.

"My kids tell me confirmation every day, 'Mom, you came back and got us. You lost everything, you were homeless, you lived on the street. You picked yourself up. You found every one of your kids that was in foster care, you went back and got all four of us. Then you put yourself through school. You got a better job. Our life got better, and then it kept getting better and better. We love you for that,'" Wright recounted to us Tuesday. "And I guess, as a parent, you just want more. ... So we tend not to think that we're worthy when we do get a blessing or when something good do happen to you."

Wright said it was a matter of trusting that God had a plan for her. And, as she put it, "you just gotta get out of your own way."

Wright and two of her sons are set to move into their new home next month. She sees parallels for the stories of her family and that of Sheridan Hollow.

"It's a new neighborhood. And just like I needed a chance, this neighborhood needs the same chance," she said with enthusiasm. "Just wait in five years when you come back to this neighborhood and see what's going on here. ... You have take pride in where you live, I don't care where you live. If you take pride in it, you come out and you sweep every day, you water the plants, those plants are going to grow, that grass is gonna grow, that tree is gonna grow. If we give it what it needs, that happens."

This project is part of Habitat's evolution as a developer

You think of Habitat for Humanity, you probably think of volunteers getting together on weekends and building houses -- one small house, one a time.

Since 1988 Habitat for Humanity Capital District, which serves Albany and Rensselaer counties, has built 100 houses. It hit the 50-house mark in 2006. It's built 50 more since then. So its growth has sloped sharply upward in recent years.

Christine Schudde, the org's director of development, points to a 16-home project it completed on Alexander Street in Albany's South End in 2013 as a turning point for Habitat, as part of an evolution toward becoming something more like a developer.

"We went from building one house at a time here and there to looking at entire blocks, looking at neighborhoods, really doing more comprehensive community development."

She said these sorts of larger projects have Habitat looking not just at how a development can help a few families, but how it can also have a wider effect on a neighborhood.

"You can see other houses are turning around, people are taking pride, there's a sense of investment in the community," Schudde said of the Alexander Street development. "And we think that's what will happen in Sheridan Hollow, especially since it's so close to downtown, there's such a great mix of people here, businesses are already starting to come back. We're optimistic this will turn things around here."

Two families have already moved into the Sheridan Hollow homes. Schudde said another 3-4 will be moved in over the next few months. And the first 10 houses are all scheduled to be finished by the end of this year.

Comments

I love how this project will be completely transforming a neighborhood that greatly needs it. Sheridan Hollow really is so close to everything, but is often overlooked other than a quick glance east when travelling on the Henry Johnson Ave bridge. The fact that these help out so many people who deserve it and give them the chance to own an affordable, yet attractive home is fantastic. This project rivals Park South in its scope, yet seems to be much more integrated with the surrounding neighborhoods.

Any idea if they still plan on building the beacon at Dove Street? I thought that was one of the coolest features when they first announced the project a couple years ago, but I haven't heard much about it since.

http://www.3tarchitects.com/wp-content/gallery/sheridan-hollow-neighborhood/sheridan-hollow-aerial-rendering-with-labels.jpg

I agree that this project, just as transformational as the Park South development, is far more respectful of its surroundings, embraces mix-use concepts far more effectively, and will support pedestrians over vehicles (unlike the latter project). While I'd like to see some more density, I think the current concept acknowledges the residential tone of this neighborhood, while allowing for a lot of mix-use commercial options. I can't wait to see the finished product!!

Thankful for this article and for All Over Albany. You tell me the stories I need to know.

I'm glad to see the rendering shows daylighting part of the stream.That could really transform the place, like Yonkers did with the Saw Mill River.

I lived in this neighborhood on Sheridan Ave. between Dove and Lark for several years and acknowledge that it really needed change. I just hope it's not the same old story of ripping apart the community by people who don't live there for the sake of looking good. Community does matter and to destroy the good relationships that exist there is really sad. Although when I lived there it was rife with drug dealers and crack houses, there did exist strong community ties that went beyond all that. I hope they are allowed to remain and grow.

I wonder why they didn't bury the electric lines? That it self improves an image on the neighborhood.

I am blessed to be a part of a major revitalization project here at Sheridan Hollow. I became the first Homeowner in November. I am impressed with the progress that is taking place in this neighborhood as I head out daily. I attended the groundbreaking, help build and now stand on my balcony watching a blueprint of plans unfold in front of me. I have met good people that will soon be my neighbors, with hard work and dedication to our homes we will bring back to life to this overlooked area in Albany. Five years from now I will look forward to saying "Well Done"

I have to second Laura's comment - AOA has some great content! On another note, it's time for the City of Albany to bury its utility wires and phase out the wooden poles that remind one of the northwest territories.

Habitat for Humanity is doing a wonderful job revitalizing our community. Habitat has given families a second chance at live to sleep, eat and think better towards a better future.

Just went bye some Habitat Homes on Broadway in Albany, and was shocked to see how untidy the lawns etc. were. Sure hope these are better kept!

@rufus -- Unkempt yards can happen anywhere. I live on a little street off middle class New Scotland and 3 of the 12 properties haven't been mowed once yet this season. Every economic strata has its deadbeats (unless you can afford to pay someone to care for your lawn).

my question are there plans to build a grocery store in Sheridan hollow ?

Revitalization of Sheridan Ave is a hope and a new/better picture of Albany city; Sheridan and Lark St neighborhoods should shine. Habitat for Humanity is our hope to bring the City of Albany, New York back to life.

@Glenda Murray, I don't believe this redevelopment through Habitat or its partners calls for a grocery market. There will be 7000 square feet of commercial mix-used property laced throughout the redeveloped block. At this point, I believe some of this commercial space was slotted for use by a local family looking to bring a cafe to the neighborhood, but haven't heard anything else.

A typical small market in the city uses about 10,000 square meet, a mid-sized grocery market about 20,000 and a supermarket 50,000-80,000, so I don't believe the current commercial offering would be enough. While more on the Whole Foods side of things, Steuben Street Market on N. Pearl opened up, which is just blocks from Sheridan, which could be an option for the Sheridan community.

https://www.facebook.com/Steuben-Street-Market-1683353538542728/

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

The week ahead

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (still oddly warm), to... (more)

A quick recap of the week

Here are a few highlights from the past short week on AOA: + M. asked about finding a progressive, friendly, diverse church in Albany. +... (more)

The warmest winter day

This all sounds familiar... The high temperature Friday hit 74 degrees at Albany International Airport. That is not just a new record for highest temp... (more)

Wallpaper and power

The Schuyler Mansion recently completed the reproduction and reinstallation 18th century wallpaper -- "Ruins of Rome" -- and the historic site's blog shares the details... (more)

Nice, but...

Over at The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer asks a timely modern ethical question: Is It Okay to Enjoy the Warm Winters of Climate Change? The question... (more)

Recent Comments

If you've never checked out a Friends meeting (Quakers), I recommend giving it a go. I'm Jewish, but have been sporadically attending Friends meetings for several years. We sit in silence. There's no pastor. The idea is that G-d is within all of us, and if someone's truly and deeply compelled to speak, they share their message. Sometimes it's a full hour of silence and then at the end of the meeting we share joys and sorrows and community updates and you realize that the people sitting silently beside you are some of the most engaged, empathetic, and fair-minded activists around.

Fair Share 4 Albany

...has 4 comments, most recently from Mike

How we all ended up talking about a gondola between downtown Albany and the train station

...has 20 comments, most recently from OCULUS

Progressive, warm, vibrant Jewish congregations?

...has 3 comments, most recently from Jo

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 2 comments, most recently from Greg

The untaxed city within the city

...has 39 comments, most recently from BS