A New Lease on Life for Clinton Avenue Properties

This is a guest post by Adam Driscoll, Development Manager for Home Leasing, Rochester.


Home Leasing recently acquired 70 historic rowhomes consisting of 210 housing units and 6 commercial spaces in the Arbor Hill Neighborhood of Albany, NY. We are proud to be an Arbor Hill property owner and are planning to completely renovate these buildings in a way that engages with the efforts of the re-energized Arbor Hill neighborhood.

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Home Leasing is a family-owned development, construction, and property management company specializing in high-quality housing for a broad range of people. It was founded in 1967 and currently operates 21 communities with approximately 2,000 units. Its mission is to improve the lives of its residents and the communities in which it works. Home Leasing became a Certified Benefit Corporation (“B Corp”) by the nonprofit B Lab in 2017. B Corps are a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Arbor Hill is bordered on the north by a mix of industrial and residential uses, terminating with the I-90 highway and railroad corridors. To the south lies Sheridan Hollow, which creates a natural separation between Arbor Hill and downtown Albany. To the east, I-787, a regional north-south highway, separates Arbor Hill and Albany from the Hudson River. Dense urban residential neighborhoods, beginning with West Hill, lie to the west of the neighborhood.

To date, Arbor Hill has made great progress toward implementing recommendations outlined in the Neighborhood Plan. Many significant residential, commercial, and mixed-use projects have begun the transformation of the Arbor Hill community. Projects have been developed through a variety of public/private investments and through supportive relationships among the Albany Community Development Agency, Albany Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity and the Arbor Hill Development Corporation.

This $48 million project would be a major undertaking for any company. Home Leasing’s capacity as a construction company as well as a management company with substantial experience in redevelopment of historic structures allowed it to successfully take on the complexity and scale of this project. The properties are very distressed, over half of the units are vacant and several buildings have been condemned. With the financial assistance from New York State Homes and Community Renewal, Home Leasing is positioned to finally give this portfolio the necessary rehabilitation and the high-quality management that will improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.

The rehabilitation of the properties will be comprehensive and will be guided by the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Parks Service due to the utilization of historic tax credits. This major rehabilitation will be a transformational project for the community aesthetically as well as economically. The scope of work will include:

  • New Roofs

  • New water/sewer/ gas lines

  • New plumbing and electric

  • New boilers

  • Adding air conditioning

  • All new kitchen cabinets/counters and appliances

  • New bathrooms

  • New windows

  • New flooring

  • Exteriors to be repointed and painted

Construction will be performed by Home Leasing Construction, which has successfully completed award winning historic renovations. The construction program is dedicated to meeting substantial goals for participation by Women and Minority Owned Business Enterprises and will also work to provide construction job opportunities. It takes an experienced team to navigate the intricacies of tax credit development and historic rehabilitation. The development team is highly qualified and experienced in historic renovations and includes: 3T Architects, Preservation Studios, Chris Betts from Betts Housing, Hershberg and Hershberg Civil Engineers, and Nixon Peabody.

Home Leasing is especially grateful for the support from the current residents and neighbors, local community organizations, Mayor Sheehan and the City of Albany, and Capitalize Albany. Without everyone’s support this project would not have moved forward and the buildings would have continued to decline.

It is also fortunate that the resources needed to complete this project were maintained at the Federal level. If the Federal Historic Credits had been eliminated or significantly altered, as was proposed by Congress late last year, this project would have been in jeopardy. In the end, Federal tax reform will permit the original plan to move forward.

For the state historic credits, this project demonstrates how the State program could be improved as the project may exceed the state credit limit. In addition, without reauthorization, any buildings completed after 2019 will not qualify for state credits because the program sunsets.

Construction is slated to begin May of 2018 with a projected two-year completion. Home Leasing is looking forward to completing this transformational project!