Biz Review: Central Warehouse has been sold

Central Warehouse 2017-July

Ace local real estate reporter Mike DeMasi reported today that Central Warehouse -- AKA, that enormous block of a building with peeling paint that sits next to 787 just north of downtown Albany -- has been sold to Evan Blum, the owner of an architectural salvage company in NYC. From the Business Review:

Blum told Albany Business Review he has saved millions of cubic square yards of usable items from buildings -- everything from light fixtures to fa├žades -- that would have gone into landfills. He's an artist whose medium is free-form sculpture.
"I' not one of those guys that wears fancy shoes, Rolex watches and flashy suits," he said. "I'm just a guy who's done interesting things for the past 42 years. I do a fair amount of business with people upstate. I've found there's a void in what i do up there. I feel I can be a good addition."

Here's a Business Insider profile of Blum's Harlem-based operation from a few years back, and a New York Time article about his huge collection in storage in Connecticut.

Of course, becoming the owner of Central Warehouse and actually doing something productive with Central Warehouse are two different things. The building presents a challenge not just in its enormous size, but also because it was originally constructed as a cold storage facility. Oh, and there was that time it caught on fire. Others have tried and failed. (The building had been owned by a credit union that took possession after the last failed development attempt.)

Blum told DeMasi he hasn't decided yet whether he'll be seeking financial assistance from the various development arms of the city, but it does sound like he'll be seeking state funding.

One thing the city could potentially do that might not cost a lot of money is look at how the area around Central Warehouse could be reformatted. If you've ever walked around there, it's a tangle of blocked-off streets, parking lots, and railroad track.

Comments

Well, yes good news the building has an owner. That's nice blurbage from the article, but really the key quotes come later. Mr. Blum doesn't see it being converted into anything other than storage, with the exterior fixed up.

The Central Warehouse was a hard sell - like Blum points out, even if you added windows, the building is massive and has no lightwell, so the inside would always be windowless. The ceilings are very low on all floors besides the first two, and the ridiculously-thick concrete construction would probably make opening up floors super difficult.

It took a long time to find the right buyer, but it seems like Blum is perfect - he wants to use it (primarily) as a warehouse - what it's best suited to be - and not waste money converting it into something it probably can't be.

I hope he's open to working with the local artist community to bring more large-format murals to Downtown Albany!

I like Evan Blum, I hope this project is an opportunity to connect with the region's existing, and significant, historic preservation sector.

"he has saved millions of cubic square yards"

Well if any building can store 4 dimensional objects, it's gotta be this one.

The cost of the environmental remediation of that bldg probably far exceeds its value. A gold mine for abatement crews and monitors. It will be nice to see it taken care of finally.

I just passed it on Amtrak. Saw the tracks entering the building and thought of restoring it as a depot connecting upstate agriculture to state-wide customers via rail, back to the future. I feel like that should have been done with the NYC High Line too, agriculture being the ur-culture. If there was an opportunity for that in NYC, it was unfortunately missed. Anyway, good luck with this new chapter in the life of this building and its important location.

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