Update: The Gallery on Holland

gallery on holland site 2016-December-16

The way the site looked last week.

A quick update on the The Gallery on Holland project in Albany, which we've gotten some questions about because the building that's long been slated for demolition there stills stands.

"We've abated the whole building and we're hoping to demo that thing early next year," William Hoblock, of the development company Richbell Capital (RBC) told us last week of the project, acknowledging the unusually long delay. "It's driving us crazy."

Hoblock said the project -- on Holland Ave, just around the corner from Delaware Ave, near the VA and Albany Med -- hit a snag when it was discovered the site includes 50 feet of soil fill, which complicates what can be built there.

"We have final soil tests coming out, hopefully, in a week or two. And that's going to determine what exactly we have to do, if anything, to change," he said. "Hopefully not, because we love that project."

The project has been in stasis so long that RBC had to go back before the Albany planning board this year to get its site plan approval re-upped. Hoblock said they're hoping whatever design changes the soil tests might prompt -- if any -- won't require going back to the board.

rendering 25 Holland Gallery on Holland

The project, as currently proposed, is for a 7-story, 125-unit apartment building with 160 interior parking spaces. The roots of the project stretch all the way back to 2013. When we last talked with Hoblock about it in 2014, he was hoping the project could be completed in 2016.

The state of the old structure that currently stands is noticeably rundown, and it's marked with the "do not enter" X-signs for emergency responders.

"It breaks our heart to have it sit there because that's not the way we operate, but sometimes you have delays in projects," said Hoblock. "But we'll get over those hurdles."

RBC is the developer behind projects such as the Paddocks of Saratoga and the Adelphi Hotel renovation in downtown Albany. Last week it publicly floated a general plan for the First Prize Center site on the Albany/Colonie line.

Comments

i'm excited about this land being used, but the building in that rendering is absolutely hideous. i certainly hope they have retooled the concept since 2013.

What is "soil fill"?

I lived in that building for a couple of years, and it is a beautiful, art-deco-style structure with gorgeous hard-wood floors, and tiled bathrooms. I think it's a shame that someone didn't try to fix it up and use it as is - 1, 2, 3-bedroom apartments with a 2-story balcony in the entryway. It has been sad to watch its demise.

@a Agree, this building is U-G-L-Y. Looks like a Saratoga medical office in a bad way. If only Albany had centuries of architectural history to draw from...

@a "i'm excited about this land being used, but the building in that rendering is absolutely hideous"

It is on a par with the sort of architecture going up throughout the district- generic, at once pretentious and insubstantial. The building presently on the site is no masterpiece but at least some effort went into designing the entrance.

The building in the rendering may or may not be "absolutely hideous," but it's better than what is there now.

As a resident of the neighborhood, I am not convinced that building will actually be constructed. As far as I can see, RBC has done nothing but contribute to blight in the City. The previously occupied buildings, there are two, the apartment and the house next door, now sit there empty, boarded up and fenced in. RBC has presented excuses as to why the project has not proceeded, what are the reasons? I think RBC needs to respond directly to the impacted neighbors about what is going on. This was presented with great fanfare in 2013, now, going on 4 years later, I get to look at a boarded up building. I thought about selling my house and moving in to the building. Instead of focusing on getting this project off the ground, RBC pitches another grandiose plan for the Tobin site. Guess this is a long winded way to state my great disappointment jn RBC.

I'm skeptical about RBC's comments about the soil. The word in the neighborhood is the developer has been stalling the project and wants to scale it back or abandon it altogether. Sad after destroying a fine, fully occupied 1940's apartment building. I guess RBC is living in the post truth era.

@Charlie

I very much disagree.

I am so sick of seeing buildings like this demolished. Buildings with character and craftsmanship that could have been restored. This building was occupied not that long ago. Tearing down viable structures to put up bigger & pricier apartments is just wrong. Just like Park South - wrong and bland.

@ Eric Scheirer and @a: I agree that the architecture of buildings we've seen going up in the region - and all over the country - is "insubstantial" as Eric put it. This region has some great architecture - it's one of the area's best assets - but pretty much all of it was built 80+ years ago. Sadly, it seems that the days of building great structures (with great materials) that will stand the test of time are behind us. I recognize this fact and look at buildings such as the one proposed above for what they are - significant improvements over the architecture of the 60's and 70's (and we can probably through in the 50's and 80's too). The buildings from that era are just the worst - rectangular, boxy, drab. Blech. Just look at any school, office building, or post office built during these years and you'll cringe along with me. So I view these new buildings as at least some sort of an improvement over where we were in the recent past.

Re: lamenting the demise of the existing building on the site

A common refrain of AOA comments is city living, walkable neighborhoods etc. So think about what the proposed building would achieve toward that goal. A 125 unit building will put a lot more people in that area, which is walking distance to Lark St and Delaware Ave neighborhoods. This can only help to build up the businesses in those areas and strengthen those neighborhoods. That's a good thing. I love the older buildings and the history they hold, but I have to remind myself that clinging to the status quo can often hamper progress toward a desired goal.

Yeah, how exactly does "50 feet of soil fill" delay a project for such a substantial amount of time? The developer is not saying, which to me is a red flag. This looks an awful lot like an excuse for not meeting deadlines and commitments. I sure hope these guys do what they are saying they are going to do. If they blow off this project after making the living spaces on the site uninhabitable then they should be banned from doing business inside the City of Albany.

@grandmastergus
Going a bit off the topic from this project- one of the notable features of Holland Ave are the six Tudor revival houses which sit empty and disintegrating- truly "demolition by neglect". http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Do-Tudors-await-demolition-by-neglect-4200232.php

I have to say that I agree with Charlie and Bill. The delays in this project are unacceptable from the stand point of the blight on our neighborhood from the many months of having a boarded up run down apartment building and overgrown landscaping. We have been waiting for way too long for those "soil studies" to be completed. As the Albany Common Council representative for this area, I will be reaching out to RBC to attempt to schedule a meeting for nearby neighbors to receive an update on this situation. I appreciate All Over Albany's update on this issue.

Any further updates on this? The former structure was demoed earlier this year but now we just have an overgrown lot with shitty fencing around it.

Also, the sign announcing the "Galleries on Holland" is no longer at the site. Is this project dead?

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