ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany County Land Bank and City of Albany through the Albany Community Development Agency have reportedly partnered to redevelop 22 vacant properties at the intersection of Henry Johnson Boulevard and Clinton Avenue in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood.

Wednesday, the partnership released a Request for Proposals (RFP) looking for proposals from developers or partnerships that would create high-quality, diverse development to include affordable housing and advance community priorities.

Community priorities were reportedly identified by reviewing existing neighborhood plans and holding a series of discussions with local elected officials, community leaders, neighborhood associations and public meetings. As a result, several core community priorities came to light including:

  • The need for more affordable housing (both rental and homeownership)
  • Increased opportunities for economic advancement (such as the creation of quality living wage jobs)
  • Addressing an undersupply of services and amenities for existing residents (including access to nutritious food, pharmacies, and health/dental care)
  • Mitigating climate change
  • Improving public health and safety.

In order to achieve the desired end goal, potential development proposals should aim to keep or expand affordable housing options by promoting health, safety, and affordability for all families no matter the size or income, and advance at least one community priority.

Officials say proposals will be evaluated based on their quality and level of feasibility as well as respondent’s ability to successfully implement the plan, rather than solely based on purchase price. The approach is reportedly part of the Land Bank’s goal to continue expanding programs, partnerships, and resources aimed at turning vacant properties into productive, usable spaces that address housing issues and better serve historically underserved areas.

“If you want to achieve a different outcome then you need to take a different approach,” said Adam Zaranko, Executive Director of the Albany County Land Bank Corporation. “Through this partnership and unique RFP structure, we hope to deliver a project that transforms vacant properties into something that serves existing residents and creates a welcoming, vibrant gateway to the capital of the Empire State.”

“Since taking office my administration has been laser-focused on revitalizing our neighborhoods and working with partners such as the Albany County Land Bank to create a city where every neighborhood works,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “This joint request will help begin the process of transforming this historically underserved gateway in Arbor Hill and turn these abandoned properties into quality housing and mixed-use retail space.”

The properties are located along two main roadways, including Henry Johnson Boulevard — a corridor lined with several civic uses that serves as a primary entry point into New York State’s capital city and is reportedly used by over 20,000 vehicles per weekday — and Clinton Avenue, which connects Albany’s Arbor Hill, West Hill, and Sheridan Hollow neighborhoods with Downtown and the waterfront.

“I’m proud that Albany County sends hundreds of thousands of dollars to the County Land Bank each year because it has a proven track record of transforming blight into new homes and businesses. This bold initiative along one of the city’s busiest corridors is another great example of that,” said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy. “By investing in this piece of the historically underserved Arbor Hill neighborhood plagued by Red X’s, we can raise property values and improve access to goods and services that could start a chain reaction of additional investment, improved quality of life and better opportunities for our residents. I’m hopeful we can find a bidder who wants to be a part of that vision.”

“I applaud the Albany County Land Bank and the Albany Community Development Agency for coming together and proposing a visionary revitalization project to enhance the standard of living for residents in the Arbor Hill neighborhood. This is an opportunity to transform our communities and turn our blighted and abandoned properties into affordable living spaces. If we duplicate these efforts, block by block, we can create a city that offers housing for all,” said Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce. “The Legislature offers its support in this project and its continued partnership with the Land Bank to tackle blighted and vacant properties throughout Albany County.”

The Albany County Land Bank has reportedly enabled over 275 vacant properties to return to productive use in the West Hill, Sheridan Hollow and Arbor Hill neighborhoods since it was established in 2014, including properties that have been rehabilitated into affordable housing by private individuals and nonprofit housing organizations.

The City of Albany has reportedly made capital investments in the Clinton Avenue corridor and is undertaking a $10 million investment in revitalizing nearby Clinton Square under New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

In July, the State of New York and City of Albany reportedly announced the completion of $56 million rehabilitation of 70 distressed row houses along a large portion of Clinton Avenue and Ten Broeck Street.  In addition, the Albany Community Development Agency and several nonprofit housing organizations are said to have invested in rehabilitating vacant properties and creating affordable homeownership opportunities to further stabilize the neighborhood.

Proposals are due November 19, 2021. View the full Request for Proposals online.