Making Nipper a landmark -- officially

looking up at Nipper 991 Broadway 2016-April

Chuck Schumer was in town today calling for the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office to add 991 Broadway in Albany's Warehouse District -- and the Nipper statue that sits atop it -- to the National Register of Historic Places.

You might be thinking: Wait, isn't there a residential redevelopment project in the works for that building? And haven't the backers of that project said they intend to keep the exterior -- and Nipper -- pretty much as is?

And the answers to those questions are: yes and yes. So why the push for the designation if Nipper isn't, in the words of Schumer's office, in line to be "ruffed" up?

This clip from the press release sheds some light (link added):

Schumer is urging the NPS and SHPO to list the Nipper Building on the National Register of Historic Places, citing that it would not only help Nipper remain on top of the building for future generations to enjoy, but, more importantly, enable Nipple Building, LLC to tap into the federal historic tax credits as it undertakes this important adaptive reuse transformation of 991 Broadway. Schumer said this project is widely supported by the community because it would preserve significant and distinctive history, while complementing the surrounding neighborhoods. Without these tax credits, the adaptive reuse costs could be prohibitive. Schumer therefore urged NPS to expedite the developer's application to list the "Nipper Building" on the National Register of Historic Places so that the beloved statue can be preserved for future generations. ...
Inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places is an important first step that enables a property owner to receive Federal Historic Tax Credits which provides a 20% tax credit for rehabilitation of historic structures for income-producing properties listed on the register. The historic tax credit applies specifically to income-producing historic properties, and throughout its history it has leveraged many times its cost in private expenditures on historic preservation.

Last week after the project's initial pitch before the Albany planning board, we talked with developer Bill Barber about these credits -- he said they were a "huge" part of the financial side of the project. He said the overall cost of acquiring and converting the Nipper Building will probably be $15-$16 million, so the credits could be worth a significant chunk of money.

By the way: The press release also makes reference to a larger redevelopment plan for the area around the Nipper Building. The only project publicly up for review right now is 991 Broadway itself -- the plan for it includes 70-75 residential units on the upper floors, 7,750 square feet of retail and office space on the street level, and roughly 180 parking spaces (70-75 of which would be inside). Barber told us the conversion of 991 Broadway is probably at least two years from being completed if things line up as they hope. [TU]

The Nipper Building's first use was as a factory for gas meters around the start of the 20th century. (Schumer's office says it was built in 1906. Albany city property tax records indicate 1900, but we suspect those records are approximate for some of the oldest buildings.)

factory d mcdonald & co 1909

The photo above -- of what the building looked like shortly after it was built -- is from the Albany Public Library's Pruyn Collection, via the the Albany Group Archive on Flickr.

The building later housed a company that distributed RCA products, thus the addition of Nipper on roof in the 1950s (here's a photo from 1965). The Arnoff Moving and Storage Company has used the building since 1990s.

Bonus bit: The Nipper Building sits next to the Adam Ross Cut Stone Co, one of the city's oldest businesses. Its building on Broadway dates back to the 1880s.


"..citing that it would not only help Nipper remain on top of the building for future generations to enjoy, but, more importantly, enable Nipple Building, LLC to tap into the federal historic tax credits..."

That is a typo right?

@D: Pretty sure it is a typo. I'm guessing autocorrect took over.

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