In 2014, the Preservation League of New York State launched a demonstration project designed to breathe new life into upstate New York’s vacant and underutilized industrial buildings.


From the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 through the mid-20th century, companies constructed headquarters, warehouses, mills, manufacturing, and utility buildings to support leading industries. However, in the second half of the 20th century, as much of manufacturing abandoned upstate New York, massive industrial buildings were left vacant. These structures now present significant development challenges.

The Preservation League joined forces with Troy Architectural Program (TAP) in 2014 to create development and rehabilitation plans for selected buildings, to illustrate the potential of the sites and to celebrate their host communities’ history. The project was supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund with additional assistance from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Each of the subject buildings in the Industrial Heritage Reuse Project received a report including: a schematic reuse plan; code evaluation; cost estimate; list of funding assistance; and outline of approvals required. The report also included a discussion of proposed use, possible alternatives, budget, code issues, approval processes, scope of services, and time constraints.

“With the Industrial Heritage Reuse Project, the League will leverage the momentum of the latest industrial development boom – computer chip fabrication – within a 40-mile radius of GlobalFoundries’ Fab 8 plant in Saratoga County,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. “Through this effort, we hope that the owners of historic industrial buildings and elected and appointed officials will begin to see these structures as assets instead of liabilities.”

Project findings were made available to building owners and the general public through a final report and a regional symposium. This was the first project of its kind in New York State.

“New York State has a remarkable variety of buildings that currently stand as symbols of the decline of upstate industry,” said DiLorenzo. “The League hopes the Industrial Heritage Reuse Project will help return these buildings to productive use, provide a model for other communities across the state, and encourage municipalities to embrace and promote their industrial heritage.”