A proposal submitted by Unity House to demolish three buildings on the corner of 105th Street and 5th Avenue in Lansingburgh in preparation for the construction of a 3-story community residential facility has been approved by the Planning Board, but with stipulations. Two of the buildings are occupied residential structures while the third, sandwiched in the middle, is a vacant single-story commercial property. I have two bones of contention with this proposal.
1. If Unity House moves forward with this project the city would be losing three taxpaying properties from its tax rolls. This is the last thing the city needs especially at a time when the State is pushing county and city taxes higher due to unfunded mandates and leadership that leads us to no solutions.
Several alternatives could be considered in lieu of their current plan. If they wish to be a part of the Lansingburgh community there are plenty of open/vacant lots and large vacant buildings available where development would be welcomed and the city wouldn’t take as much of a hit tax wise. This is a similar approach CEO took when they renovated the old Junior Museum for their new Youth Opportunity Center (just a block north on 5th Ave. of the proposed Unity House project.)
2. The building at 246 5th Ave. is a beautiful Victorian structure that purely examples the architecture of the neighborhood. In my opinion it would be a travesty if this building, that appears to be in great shape, would be torn down. It’s also adverse to a current movement in the city that is calling for demolition to be a last resort. I have supported building demolition in that past and I still do if it is absolutely necessary and it is not necessary to remove 246 5th Ave.
A better proposal, which the Planning Board offered as a stipulation of their approval, would be to keep the current building (246 5th Ave), and plan on additions and alterations to achieve Unity House’s desired outcome. Whether or not this is deemed feasible is another story.
With this said one key point that has gone unmentioned is what will be the end use of this, large-three story building in the heart of a residential area in the Burgh. Law prohibits the City to disclose the use of the building, which is very frustrating when considering whether or not the end use is suitable for the surrounding community. Several years ago when Whitney Young Heath Services was selecting a location for their Troy facility they worked with the community to ensure the location was correct for the neighborhoods and for themselves. Now we just need to hope the Planning Board remains tough in ensuring the stipulations are adhered to.
UPDATE: Here is the a link from the February 18, 2010 Troy Record story. It would appear that a strong sense opposition is forming against this project. Click here