Fighting blight is an unheralded struggle for the Troy Community Land Bank, a constant effort to keep buildings from deteriorating, knocking down structures when they can’t be salvaged and enticing investors into North Central, the city’s poorest neighborhood.
In its third year of existence, the land bank is developing a system geared toward improving the entire neighborhood rather than just individual properties.
“The land bank is feeling like it’s at the point where things are beginning to take off,” said Heather King, chairwoman of the bank’s board of directors.
The TCLB board just approved its seventh sale. The latest was on Nov. 16 at 3319 Sixth Ave. for $7,500 to the Media Alliance, which is the parent organization of the Sanctuary for Independent Media.
The bank is attempting to link parcels to provide more than a typical one-tenth of an acre site with a dilapidated three-story building to restore. TCLB is consolidating parcels such as the three at 810-812-814 River St.— which amount to nearly half an acre — to provide more room for new construction of mixed-use buildings to stimulate the neighborhood.
“We’re trying to assess a whole block. We hoping to do more,” King said.
That approach is combined with the traditional renovation of the tenth-of-an-acre residential property that is typical in North Central and much of the city.
It also means working with partners such as the city of Troy, TRIP, Habitat for Humanity and TAP to build the fight against blight to a point where it succeeds in encouraging new construction and renovation of older properties.
King expects the land bank’s hiring of Tony Tozzi as its first full-time executive director, and plans to add an operations manager, will help the group get more done in 2018. Full-time staff, King explained will allow the bank to market its properties and see how it can expand into other city neighborhoods. TLCB had a part-time executive director, Joe Fama, working on developing programs.
The land bank started with $2 million in funding for stabilization and revitalization of properties from the state attorney general’s office and Enterprise Community Partners.
That $2 million has underwritten the land bank’s acquisition of 39 properties. King said TCLB taking title to these properties means they won’t sit neglected and forgotten. The land bank has stabilized many of the buildings.
The land bank has razed 11 buildings that had fallen into such bad shape that they couldn’t be saved, which opens up the cleared land for new development.
Of the 39 properties, TCLB has sold seven. Eight parcels have been banked, such as 810-812-814 River St., to be combined to encourage development of new, larger projects. The remaining properties will be marketed for sale or slated for co-development with TRIP or Habitat for Humanity.
[email protected] • 518-454-5084 • @KennethCrowe
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