ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After more than 60 years of being labeled the local “eyesore”, the Central Warehouse is finally under Albany County’s management. A judge ruling in favor of foreclosing a lien the county placed on the property at 143 Montgomery Street after now former owner, Evan Blum, failed to pay more than $500,000 in back owed property taxes.
“This door is closed and another door is opening up,” says Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.
As NEWS10 has reported, Albany County accepted a bid from an LLC joint owned by Redburn Development and Columbia Development to redesign the Central Warehouse into a mixed use space. McCoy says the next step now is to have representatives from both companies take a look inside.
“We didn’t own it, so they weren’t allowed to go in there. Now they’re going to go in with their people and check it out and see what it’s going to cost for them to stabilize it and to go forward with the redevelopment of the property,” McCoy explains.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s office similarly pleased with the news the Central Warehouse is getting closer to revitalization, sending the following statement:
The City of Albany is encouraged by this update and hope it brings us closer to the revitalization of Central Warehouse, getting this building back on the tax rolls, and attracting further investment in the Warehouse District.David Galin, Chief of Staff to Mayor Kathy Sheehan
However, this is likely not the last we will all see of Evan Blum. His ownership company, The Phoenix of Albany LLC–a name that seems to betray his own, once grand plans for reviving the Central Warehouse–received a judgement in April 2021 to pay $78,800 over outstanding code violations.
“The Court has determined that Mr. Blum did not undertake the necessary efforts, nor did he demonstrate a good faith intention, to comply with the Notice and Order’s requirements even after the City showed flexibility in working with him to accomplish the objectives at hand many months after the Compliance Date had passed,” the Honorable Helena Heath wrote in her decision.
While that debt has entered the collections process, there’s an additional $225,000 outstanding bill for emergency repairs the city did in late July after chunks of rubble fell off the Central Warehouse facade and onto the nearby Amtrak rail.
So what happens if—like his property taxes—Blum refuses to pay up?
Legal experts tell NEWS10 normally, you could issue a lien against the offending property, but the county already did that over his back taxes. Since they own it now, the water becomes murky on what to do about these leftover city debts.
One expert says the city or county might sue Blum’s company, The Phoenix of Albany, but if none of his other assets operate under that umbrella, that option is also out.
Another pile of problems for another day perhaps, but at least we may finally have a new skyline in our sights.
“Hopefully, what you see now is not what you’re going to see a year from now,” McCoy says.