Real Estate Week

New lives for old churches

new lives for churches composite
By Casey Normile

Many Capital Region churches have closed in recent years due to dwindling congregations, parish mergers, or financial difficulties. And when the congregations go, they leave behind some grand buildings. So what happens to these empty churches?

The issue has been in the news a lot lately because of the controversy surrounding St. Patrick's in Watervliet and a proposal on the table to turn St. Joseph's in Albany into a brewery.

But there are lots of old churches in the Capital Region that have already found new lives. Here's a look at a few.

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The ___est neighborhoods in the Capital Region

diversity map screengrab schenectady closeup

Schenectady leads the Capital Region in racial diversity. (The deeper the shade of green, the more diverse the neighborhood.)

Location. Location. Location.

It's a cliche, but it doesn't make it any less true: location is among the most important factors in real estate. It can significantly affect the value of a house -- and significantly affect how much you like living there.

Of course, physical factors like roads, trees, and access to services are a big part of location. But so are the people in your neighborhood.

To get a better sense of some general demographic characteristics about Capital Region neighborhoods -- age, ethnic diversity, income, education, and so on -- we pulled data for all 210 Census tracts in the four county area.

Here are some of the ____-est neighborhoods...

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A home where you don't have to turn on the heat

Passive Solar -via Dennis Wedlick.jpg

The Capital Region's first Certified Passive home.

By Siobhan Connally

Writer Susan Guthridge-Gould and her husband, photographer Chris Gould are a little passive aggressive.

Which is to say they are aggressive about passive. Their passive home.

The Columbia County couple is building one of the first certified passive dwellings in the region. They're keeping a record of the process on their blog, Newhudsonvalley.com.

What is a passive house?

Lets start with what it's not. It's not to be confused with a solar house - or any other practice of green-construction that uses a complex equation of sustainability and technology to reduce its carbon footprint.

A passive house has only to meet two main requirements:

+ Use 90 percent less energy than a conventional home

+ Achieve that goal through its design and construction rather than mechanical technology.

In other words the house has to rely on its placement in the environment and an air-tight construction to keep it warm in winter and cool in summer.

So... does it work?

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What $350,000 buys you in the Capital Region

real estate week 2012 350 composite

It's Real Estate Week on AOA.

Flip through real estate listings enough and you'll notice pretty quickly that the same amount of money will buy you a wide variety of homes -- for all sorts of reasons, location being among the most important. Two very similar houses can end up selling at prices tens of thousands of dollars apart.

To get a better a sense of what goes into the price of a house -- and how much house you can get for your dollar -- we talked with three local real estate agents to better understand why some recently closed house sold for the prices they did.

What are you getting for your money? And what could you get for a little bit more?

We've already looked at $175,000 and $225,000. Let's finish with a look at a handful of houses in the $350,000 range around the Capital Region...

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Real Estate Week giveaway: spruce up your place -- and then relax

door open welcome mat

Welcome.

Drawing's closed! But if you'd still like to share advice, please do. (You just won't be entered in the drawing.

It's Real Estate Week here at AOA, and to celebrate we've put together a few prizes. No, it's not a new home or fancy downtown apartment -- just a few things you can enjoy whether you own or rent:

For the inside: EcoMaids
EcoMaids green cleaners will provide an initial service visit to your home. They'll clean your kitchen, living room, dining room, entry way, hall, stairs, 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom. ($199 value)

For the outside: Faddegon's
A $75 gift certificate to Faddegon's Nursery in Latham. Faddegon's has a wide selection of flowers and garden plants (or course), but they also have an great indoor plant section.

And for relaxing when the inside and outside are all done:

Capital Wine
You get to go wine shopping with a $50 gift card to Capital Wine at the corner of State and Lark in Albany. If you're wondering what is the perfect wine pairing, here's their advice.

The Book House
And a $15 gift certificate from The Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza so you can sip your wine and relax with a good read.

To enter, please post an answer to the following question in the comment section:

What's the best advice you've ever received -- or advice you'd give someone else -- about picking a place to live?

We'll draw one winner at random. The deadline to enter is Friday, July 13 at 10 am.

Important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be eligible. You must submit your comment by 10 am on Friday July 13, 2012. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 2 pm on Friday (July 13) -- and must respond by 7 pm Friday (July 13).

photo: Flickr user Joelk75 (cc)

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What $225,000 buys you in the Capital Region

real estate week 225 comparison composite

It's Real Estate Week on AOA.

Flip through real estate listings enough and you'll notice pretty quickly that the same amount of money will buy you a wide variety of homes -- for all sorts of reasons, location being among the most important. Two very similar houses can end up selling at prices tens of thousands of dollars apart.

To get a better a sense of what goes into the price of a house -- and how much house you can get for your dollar -- we talked with three local real estate agents to better understand why some recently closed house sold for the prices they did.

What are you getting for your money? And what could you get for a little bit more?

Let's look at a handful of houses in the $225,000 range around the Capital Region...

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What $175,000 buys you in the Capital Region

real estate week 2012 175 comparison composite

It's Real Estate Week on AOA.

Flip through real estate listings enough and you'll notice pretty quickly that the same amount of money will buy you a wide variety of homes -- for all sorts of reasons, location being among the most important. Two very similar houses can end up selling at prices tens of thousands of dollars apart.

To get a better a sense of what goes into the price of a house -- and how much house you can get for your dollar -- we talked with three local real estate agents to better understand why some recently closed house sold for the prices they did.

What are you getting for your money? And what could you get for a little bit more?

To start, we looked at a handful of houses in the $175,000 range around the Capital Region...

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Living in downtown Albany

real estate week downtown albany living composite

It's Real Estate Week on AOA.

In a lot of cities -- New York, San Francisco, Chicago -- apartments and condos in the heart of "downtown" are totally normal. But in Albany that hasn't been case. For a long time its downtown has emptied out after the work day. Sure, there are crowds along the entertainment strips like Pearl Street. But the city's downtown has had very little residential stock -- and, as a result, very few of the open-after-work services and amenities that go along with residential: coffee shops, retail, a grocery store.

Over the last couple of years, though, a handful of developers have gutted and rebuilt the interiors of historic buildings, turning them into luxury apartments and condos.

And here's the thing that surprised us: there appears to be strong demand for those units. Every one of the existing apartment buildings we checked out was full, and many of those still under renovation have a waiting list.

So, what's changed? And what does all this downtown living look like?

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What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

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