Another residential conversion planned in Albany, this time in Hudson/Park

Long Energy site Albany stables building 2016-May

The complex currently houses the Long Energy company. Its previous lives included use as stables.

There's been a string of residential conversion projects -- both completed and planned -- in Albany over the last few years, mainly concentrated downtown and in the Warehouse District. But the latest project of this type is planned for the Hudson/Park neighborhood.

Here are a few details.

Location

The project is planned for the Long Energy site on Myrtle Ave near the intersection with Swan Street. The site includes three buildings along Myrtle, which total almost 60,000 square feet.

Here's the real estate listing for the site.

Backers

Long Energy site Albany stable building rear 2016-May
Another view of 170 Myrtle, which was originally built in 1891 as a brewery and stables building, according to its real estate listing. (If you look in the background on the right you can see the back of the old Hinckel Brewery building on Park Ave, which has been apartments for many years.)

The project backers are Daniel Odabashian and Eric Moses, who own and manage about 300 rental units under the name A Team Property Management. Odabashian told us this week they have a contract to buy the property from Long and hope to close by the end of this year. He said they're estimating the project will have a total cost of $12 million.

Odabashian said they were drawn to the project because their units in the area have a 99 percent occupancy rate and the buildings offered the chance of adding a large chunk of apartments, a rare opportunity.

"There's so much demand in the neighborhood," he said.

The name of the project is "At Hudson Park."

What's involved

Long Energy site Albany corner 2016-May
The building at the corner of Myrtle and Swan.

The plan is to convert the three buildings on the site into approximately 78 apartments. The units would be mainly studios and one-bedroom units. There will also be 55-60 parking spaces.

Two of the three buildings are currently garage spaces, and the third is an old stable building that Odabashian said Long uses in part for its offices.

"It's going to be a little tricky," he said of the conversion, "but it's pretty raw space now ... it's nothing our architects can't handle."

Odabashian said they'll be working with 3t Architects on the project.

What still needs to happen?

Long Energy site Albany corner looking south 2016-May
Looking south on Swan -- that's Lincoln Park in the background.

There are still a bunch of steps between now and construction.

Odabashian said they've been working on the project for the past two years. Given the site's history as a heating oil company, much of that time has been spent doing investigation of potential contamination issues at the site -- what he called a "very comprehensive and expensive" environmental study. But Odabashian said they ended up being pleasantly surprised by what they found -- such was the lack of contamination that the project won't qualify for the state's brownfields program.

"We wanted to be 110 percent sure it was going to be a clean site," he said.

The next step will be getting the property rezoned. Because of a quirk of Albany's outdated zoning, even though the site currently hosts a heating oil company, it's actually zoned for one and two-family row houses. (Yet another example of why officials are looking forward to revisions from the Rezone Albany project.) There's a public hearing scheduled at Monday's (June 6) Common Council meeting about changing the zoning to a multi-family medium-density residential district.

Odabashian said they expect the proposed zoning change will get a relatively warm reception from the city. "We're taking an industrial site out of the neighborhood ... It makes sense to have apartments there and not 40 trucks driving around."

If the zoning change goes through, the project will also have to go through the regular approvals process such as the planning board.

Odabashian said if things fall into place as planned -- with the necessary approvals, and closing on the deal with Long Energy, and construction -- units could be up for rent by the spring of 2018.

"We're really hoping it's going to be an anchor for the neighborhood."

Comments

Great another project that will generate no long lasting jobs but provide money to real estate developers. It will make excellent section 8 housing, just the kind of people Albany needs.

Looks like another excellent project that will help promote density in the neighborhood.

Very happy to hear this, I live nearby and hate having huge trucks begin idling at 6am and drive in and out all day.

If they can get the math to work, carving out an art gallery on the first level would be a welcomed cultural asset to the neighborhood.

It would be nice to keep some of that open garage space as a studio or potential for retail or offices. I know at one point there was a dance studio there....

In other news: Census published new population estimates, with Albany loosing almost 200 people between 7/1/2014 (98,665) and 7/1/2015 (98,469).
What happens to all these new conversions, do they fill up? And if they do, is there an epidemic going on in the rest of the city?

Mike, every story I've read indicates a 95+% occupancy rate for the conversions downtown.

@ Mike. I would bet if the population did indeed decline in the city (it's just an estimate not an actual count) that the decline would be in West Hill and the South End (more vacant and abandoned apartments). I would think the rest of the city is holding pretty steady or growing slightly (far uptown near the SUNY campus and downtown with the conversions).

We should thank these developers for taking a historic site and preserving it while creating trendy downtown apartments to attract residents. What do you think would happen to the place if Long Energy just moved away and it was left vacant? Good for the neighborhood, good for Lark St businesses, good for the tax roll. Kudos.

Love this news! Higher population density should lead to a bunch of the empty storefronts in the neighborhood coming back to life. Especially with the planned rezoning.

AOA editors, any update on the Tillerman building nearby? It looks like the commercial space is getting closer to completion. Weren't there apartments planned for that building as well?

Paul has it on the nose that the aggregate number isn't really as important as more specific microtrends, especially when talking about density. The "City of Albany" is pretty big and incorporates a lot of neighborhoods all with their own trends. It's also worth pointing out that there's a longer term trend of growth in general after decades of decline. To find the numbers he quoted Mike must have also seen the 2010 estimate of 97,840, which gives us about +600 for 2015.

There is currently some pretty high demand for real estate purchases rather than rentals (TU just reported on record numbers over the winter), but this is a prime location and I'd be surprised if it didn't fill quickly.

@Mike: As others have pointed out in this thread, those population estimates should be taken with a few grains of salt because there's going to be some smudginess to the numbers. A change in the count of just a few hundred isn't really notable.

But your question about whether these conversions fill up is an important one. Almost without fail over the last year or two, every developer I've talked with who's been building new or converting space in Albany has said they're seeing very high rates of occupancy -- like 95 percent or higher. Some have even said they have people on waiting lists for units. And in the specific case above, Obadashian told me their units in the Center Square/Hudson/Park area have had 99 percent occupancy in recent years -- basically the only time they're not occupied is because unit is under renovation.

I'm really curious about what's driving this demand. Downtown developers have told me it's 20-30somethings and empty nest-type people. Obadashian said they've seen a lot of growing demand from people associated with hospitals and colleges here. What I'd like to know is to what degree this demand is coming from people moving in to the Capital Region and how much it's people moving within in the area.

@Paul and -B: You're both right to point out there's almost certainly variation within the city itself. I wish there were better metrics available that would help us all get a sense of the direction of individual neighborhoods. (Census tract data is usually a year or two behind, and the estimates have large margins of error.) People talk all the time about the direction of certain neighborhoods -- I'm guilty of this, too -- but for the most part it's all anecdotal. Which isn't to say it's not useful, but it'd help to have something more specific and systematic to include.

All that said, I'm starting to suspect that *something* is going on in city of Albany in terms of population. It just might not show up in any clear official way until next decennial Census count.

@Another Paul: That's a good question about the Tillerman building. It's been almost two years since I've heard anything about it. I'll see if we can find out anything.

Another topic, but has anyone heard if the new apartments on Holland - the high rise - are going to break ground anytime soon? It seems like that project has stalled. I think they're called The Gallery on Holland.

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