Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Building Conservation Program is no longer offered by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This blog is no longer maintained and is not affiliated in any way with RPI.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to visit my new blog, Rooted in Place, which is about promoting historic preservation and celebrating the things that make places unique.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Albany's Welllington Row - Updates

Wellington Row Developer Building Support

Plan lauded for "remarkable level of preservation" of historic architecture during key meeting in Albany

From Times Union

By Chris Churchill, July 20, 2007

ALBANY -- Preservationists and city officials are cheering the latest plan for the redevelopment of Wellington Row, the forlorn but historically significant string of buildings near the state Capitol.

The new proposal from Columbia Development Cos. -- the Albany firm wanting to build a 14-story office tower on the site -- meets the demands of historic preservationists by mostly retaining four of Wellington Row's five buildings while keeping all of the buildings' facades.

Under the $60 million plan, the buildings on either side of the former Wellington Hotel would be rehabilitated, with retail at ground level and apartments on upper floors.

The Wellington itself would be demolished, but Columbia would rebuild its facade on a new structure that would serve as an entryway to the mammoth, 400,000-square-foot office building.

"Given the circumstances, it's a remarkable level of preservation that Columbia has taken on," said architect William Brandow, a Historic Albany Foundation board member.

Wellington Row has long been an irritant to city officials and downtown boosters, who have watched the prominent site decline into a boarded-up eyesore at the heart of the city center. It has been hard, after all, to argue that downtown is succeeding with a key State Street site in such disrepair.

Columbia raised hopes when it bought the site for $925,000 last November from London-based Sebba Rockaway Ltd. But preservationists quickly objected to a Columbia plan to demolish most of the row and build an office tower immediately behind the historic facades.

Preservationists said the plan reduced the building fronts to window dressing, and they lobbied Columbia to reconsider.

The firm did so, and this week brought its revisions to the city's Historic Resources Commission, which reviews projects in historically significant areas.

"The purpose of the meeting was to make sure we're on the right track," said Columbia's Mike Arcangel, who is overseeing the Wellington Row project. "And it seems to be. It seems we've passed a litmus test."

The proposal has many hurdles to clear. It still needs a host of approvals from the city, and some preservationists are quietly questioning the size of the proposed office building, saying it may overwhelm Wellington Row and other area buildings.

"There's going to be a lot of details to review," said city planner Richard Nicholson. "We're at the big concept stage, which I would say was well received."

City officials are particularly pleased Columbia has added apartments to the project, a move that could further a long-stated goal of having more people living in the city center.

"What's nice about this is that is has all the elements," said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. "You're going to have residential as well as retail and office."

Jennings called Wellington Row critical to downtown redevelopment. "There's no reason for us to have buildings that look like that and have them 100 yards away from a beautiful state Capitol," he said.

While four of the site's buildings will not be demolished, it is unclear how much of their interiors will be saved. Some have decayed beyond repair -- that's especially true of the former Berkshire Hotel at 140 State St. -- while others have elements that may not fit into Columbia's redevelopment plans.

Susan Holland, executive director of the Historic Albany Foundation, said the former Elks Lodge, at 138 State St., has a magnificent ballroom. But that space likely will be lost under Columbia's plan, she said.

Rebuilding the Wellington Hotel facade on a new building is the most unusual component of the Columbia proposal, and preservationists said they were awaiting details of how that segment of the project would proceed.

Arcangel said Columbia would carefully remove the facade, catalog and store its pieces, then rebuild it. Yet it wouldn't be a replica: The "new" facade would be several feet higher, as Columbia wants to increase the building's interior ceiling heights.

Such plans have raised hackles in other cities. In Chicago, for example, preservations objected to a plan that reconstructed the facade of the historic McGraw-Hill Building on a new hotel.

Some have called the increasingly common practice a "facade-ectomy."

But in Albany, preservationists say they acknowledge the state of decay Wellington Row has fallen into, and say they are pleased the developer has agreed to save much of what is significant about the site.

"Given the obstacles," Brandow said, "it's a good preservation project."

Albany's Wellington Row plan detailed

From Times Union

By Ryan Hutchins, July 18, 2007

ALBANY - Representatives of Columbia Development Cos. detailed the Wellington Row project tonight night before the city of Albany's Historic Resource Commission.

The plan includes a new 14-story building of about 409,000 square feet fronted by the facades of four existing buildings.

In the center, the Wellington Hotel would be replaced by an eight-story building that would resemble the historic hotel, with pieces of the original building incorporated into the new facade.

As well as the facades, about 40 to 50 feet of the buildings behind the facade would be kept standing. Some of the space might be rehabilitated for residential or special retail use.
Columbia Development Cos. bought the properties for $925,000 from London-based Sebba Rockaway Ltd. The original plan was to demolish the entire row.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

City of Troy's Inaugural Chowderfest

Clam chowder anyone? Mayor Harry J. Tutunjian joined with local restaurateurs, including Chef Larry Schepici from Tosca Grille to announce the inaugural Troy Chowderfest, set to take place on August 18th, on River Street, Troy.

"In the last few years, we have had some wonderful restaurants open in the City of Troy, and they go along great with the fabulous eateries that are already here," Tutunjian said. "Chef Larry had this idea to start a Chowderfest, and believes it will be a great time and be very successful. It will serve as a wonderful option for people looking to not go to Saratoga."

Prospect Park Family Concert Series

The Friends of Prospect Park is proud to announce its second Family Concert Series. The concert, which are free and open to the public, are held in Troy's Prospect Park. Performances include:
  • Tuesday, July 31, at 7:00 p.m. - The Zucchini Brothers - A favorite among local children, this band attracted over 200 people to Prospect Park last summer. Originally from Saratoga Springs, but now living in a clubhouse in ZucchiniLand, the Zucchini Brothers are well renowned for their work in schools, theaters and festivals throughout the country.
  • Tuesday, August 7, at 7:00 p.m. - The Empire State Youth Percussion Orchestra - The most advanced area high school and middle school percussion players will delight the audience with vibes, electric bass, drum set, and an electric piano. The Hamilton Hill Arts Center Steel Drum Band - The group hails from Schenectady's Hamilton Hill Arts Center. A part of the center's innovative music program, they are the only youth-based steel pan group in this area.
  • Tuesday, August 14, 7:00 p.m. - Andy "The Music Man" Morse - His program is high energy and interactive and he delights young audiences with his lively blend of sing-a-longs, dancing, play-acting and storytelling. A percussive rhythmic guitarist, mandolin player and songwriter, Andy creates an environment in which children feel comfortable and encouraged to participate. His concert in Prospect Park last summer drew 125 people and dozens of dancing children.
  • Tuesday, August 21, at 6:30 (Note early start time) - Either/Orchestra - A ten-piece band from Boston, the jazz ensemble (two trumpets, trombone, three saxophones, piano, acoustic bass, drums, and congas) combines the agility and freedom of a jazz combo, the raw power and subtle coloring of a jazz orchestra and the deep grooves of Afro-Latin music. The concert is co-sponsored by The Sanctuary for Independent Media, a local community arts organization committed to promoting independent artists.
Prospect Park is located on Congress Street (Route 2) in Troy. For more information about the concert series or the Friends of Prospect Park, call 266-1433. All of the concerts are held rain or shine.

If you do head to the concerts, bring a picnic and blanket, or stop for dinner beforehand at one of Troy's great nearby restaurants, including Anselmo's (95 Ferry Street), Minissale's Wine Bar (14th Street), Muza Diner (15th Street), or Fisher's Pizza (Congress Street). Of course, there are many more -- check the sidebar at right for a few more ideas, or stop by the RiverSpark Visitor Center for a business directory with map, and other suggestions from the helpful staff. And if you want to learn a bit more about the historic Mt. Ida neighborhood that surrounds Prospect Park, visit the Historic Mt. Ida web site our BCon students developed this spring (FYI - The site's content is currently being moved from RPI servers to a new internet home, but should be available soon).

Historic Osgood neighborhood showcased - "A Touch of Heaven in the city of Troy"

Kudos and many thanks to our energetic and tireless neighbor, Claire Davis, the "force of nature" behind yesterday's tour of Troy's Osgood neighborhood. For those who may not know, Claire is also the force behind Troy in Bloom, which organizes an army of volunteers every Memorial Day weekend to plant flowers throughout downtown Troy, and is an active volunteer with many other causes. THANKS, CLAIRE, for all you do to make Troy a better place!

From Troy Record

By Robert Cristo; photograph by Tom Killips.

TROY - While spending a sunny Saturday afternoon enjoying a tour through South Troy, partakers were also exposed to the pride residents are taking in what is now considered an up and coming neighborhood.

Throughout the House, Garden and Church Tour organized by resident Claire Davis, participants not only got an opportunity to view architectural treasures of the Osgood Neighborhood but also witnessed a bevy of residents sprucing up their homes and gardens.

"Instead of moving back to New York City or San Francisco, I'm more interested now in living here and being part of an up-and-coming community that's working to save their beautiful architectural history rather than tearing it down," said Carin Upstill, a transplant who now calls Third Street her home.

During the tour of 16 local sites, which included Davis' renovated Roman-style home on Third Street, the Osgood Firehouse and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church, groups were impressed to see that so many homeowners were out painting their facades, doing home repairs and tidying up around their properties.

One of those property owners, Richard Hennessey, pointed out that economic development interest in South Troy has picked up, evidenced by the sheer number of properties that have been purchased recently.

"There's no doubt in my mind that South Troy is coming back big," said Hennessey, while painting the façade of his Ida Street home. "I see a tremendous amount of development in terms of old homes getting cleaned up.

"I first noticed it about three years ago with the whole Little Italy thing. ... Sometimes it takes only one spark of enthusiasm to create a domino effect," he added.

One of those sparks many local residents point to is Davis, who they dubbed "a force of nature" with boundless energy in advocating for the re-birth of South Troy.

Since moving into her once dilapidated yellow and white trimmed home topped with a V-shaped façade and Roman style columns in 1991, she has transformed it back to its original luster, both inside and out.

"When I bought it, everything had to be redone from the basement up - the foundation and to the roof - but I saw the potential," said Davis. "It had the right look and feel - good bones - but it needed a little tender loving care."

Davis said she organized the tour to showcase the potential of the neighborhood in hopes that more people will continue to invest in a community she considers a jewel. Those who took the tour said they couldn't agree more with Davis' assessment.

"The tour gave me the opportunity to go inside these grand homes I've only got the chance to see from the outside when I walk around the neighborhood," said Upstill, who once lived near Central Park in Manhattan.

"This is were I want to live now. ... It's one of the few areas in the capital region I love just strolling around in, looking at the historic architecture and seeing people hanging out on their stoops. ... Being from New York City that's something I missed," she added.

In addition to Davis's restored 19th Century home, the tour featured many unique features of the neighborhood. "Everyone knows about things like beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows at St. Joseph's Church, but they often don't know about the artifacts and paintings at the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church," said Davis. "That and so many other things make this area a touch of heaven in the city of Troy."

"To me it has a history that just speaks to says take care of me and make me beautiful for the next generation and beyond to appreciate,' said Davis.

Besides her own home, Davis hoped people who went on the tour also took time to appreciate the homes, gardens, churches, restaurants and fire-houses that make up what is known as the Osgood Neighborhood.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Internship Opportunities - Howard Hall Farm

The following internships are available at the Howard Hall Farm Restoration Project:

All of the internships take place on the site of a 220-year-old Federal style home in Athens NY, which serves as a classroom and laboratory. The site offers a unique environment for hands-on learning and offers specific restoration challenges that are distinctive to this region.

(Students will learn and practice techniques passed down
for centuries using historic lime mortar as in days of yore)
Duration: one week
Accepting 3 Interns

Interns will engage in hands-on repointing and stone rebuilding work using traditional methods of approach for masonry restoration. They will learn directly from Reggie Young, the founder of our historic restoration/green technology project, who studied brick and stone pointing with John Speweik of the U.S. Heritage Group of Chicago. No experience is necessary. This internship is designed to give participants a taste of this ancient process and is ideally suited for anyone interested in getting their hands dirty and learning a bit about the history of these ancient techniques.

When applicable, HHF will work with your school to make sure you can receive class credit for your studies here.

Duration: one week
Accepting 3 Interns

Students will learn the benefits and processes involved in using historic lime plaster instead of more modern techniques. By using these ancient, environmentally friendly materials, structures are actually given "room to breathe", and can last much longer than buildings treated with more contemporary methods. Students will be trained by our plaster expert, Sean (also trained in the line of John Speweik's internationally renowned processes) to learn the multifaceted uses of this visually luscious material. No experience is necessary. This internship is designed to give participants a taste of this ancient process and is ideally suited for anyone interested in getting their hands dirty and learning a bit about the history of these ancient techniques.

When applicable, HHF will work with your school to make sure you can receive class credit for your studies here.

For more information, or to apply for an internship, call 518-945-1253
or email:

Just send your name and a sentence or two letting HHF know which internship interests you, and why, and your contact information.

To learn more about HHF, visit:
or find them on Myspace

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Architecture & Preservation in the News

Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut officially opened to the public on June 21. Tickets are pretty much sold out for the forseeable future, but here are a few articles to whet your appetite for this unique site:
A few other recent articles of interest include:
  • The 'Great Love' Of a Collector Of Old Mansions (by Kathryn Matthews, New York Times, July 6, 2007) - about Richard Jenrette and his collection of fantastically restored historic houses, including Edgewater in Barrytown, New York; includes photographs and a multimedia slide show.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Founder's House Is a Self-Help Landmark (by Lisa A. Foderaro, New York Times, July 6, 2007) - about Stepping Stones, the Westchester County home of Bill and Lois Wilson, founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al Anon. The house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and was recently added to New York State's Women's Heritage Trail. Tours are available by appointment, seven days a week. FYI - Stepping Stones is currently seeking an archivist to "continue the work of cataloguing the Wilson's possessions, including the most significant items, now in storage, like the first copy of the Big Book to roll off the press.
  • Restoring the Past to Improve the Future (by Fred A. Bernstein, New York Times, July 1, 2007) - About the rehabilitation of the historic Attucks Theater in Norfolk, Virginia (constructed in 1919, but unused since the 1950s) by the Norfolk Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which has successfuly used New Market Tax Credits to restore the theater and revitalize the surrounding neighborhood.

Troy Doings: Midweek Farmers Market, RCHS Members Night, Movies, and Music

Troy's Weekday Farmers Market

Those who have been missing Troy's Wednesday Farmers Market -- located for years along the south side of the Uncle Sam Atrium (Broadway between Third and Fourth) -- will be pleased to know the market has been relocated to Riverfront Park. Although it is much smaller than the Saturday market, there will be 4-5 vendors with produce and other goods. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Wednesday through October. Be sure to check it out. FYI - for other farmers market days, times, and locations, check the listings in Metroland or the Times Union (online)...I think Watervliet has one in Hudson Shores park on Tuesday and one is located near Hudson Valley Community College on Thursdays.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Members' Night

The Rensselaer County Historical Society will be hosting its next Members' Night on Thursday, July 19th from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the Carr Building, 57 Second Street, Troy. Members (and their guests/"aspiring" members) are invited to enjoy fine wine, cheese, and informal but informative discussion of the late 1830s Howard-Hart Curtain Quarter Coach, a rare American made vehicle purchased in New York City by William and Rebecca Howard, parents of Betsey Howard Hart. With velvet seats, elaborate decorative trim and hardware, original lanterns and coat of arms on the doors, the Howard-Hart Coach is a stunning example of a high-style town coach. Only four of these coaches are known to survive and you will hear about the rediscovery and acquisition of this important piece of Troy history from Douglas G. Bucher, RCHS Board member and preservation architect and Stacy Pomeroy Draper, RCHS Curator.

The acquisition of the Howard-Hart Coach has provided RCHS with a wonderful opportunity to be able to use the vehicle to interpret both an aspect of family life at the Hart-Cluett House and discuss a wide range of themes related to Rensselaer County history, but it has also presented the organization with a complex preservation challenge. A detailed look at the Carriage House and the role it played in daily life will round out the evening. Refreshments will be served in the Courtyard of the Hart-Cluett House, weather permitting.

Members' Night is but one of the new members' benefits we plan for 2007 to increase the enjoyment of being part of RCHS. We hope to see you there, and we encourage you to bring a friend.

Little Italy's Cinema Under the Stars

Little Italy reports that this summer's first Cinema Under the Stars event was a success. Over 50 people (with their chairs in tow) enjoyed watching a young Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart in Fellini's award winning movie "La Strada." Join Little Italy for the next movie, on Friday July 27th, 8:45 p.m., at the MarketPlace, Hill Street between Liberty and Washington, for Vittorio De Sica's "The Bicycle Thief." In case of rain the event will be held in the Gasholder House on Jefferson and Fifth.

FYI - This event is part of Troy Night Out, held on the last Friday of each month. Plan to spend the evening in Troy, browsing in shops and galleries, dining, listening to music, and watching a movie!

Troy Cinema & Visual Arts Group

The Troy Cinema & Visual Arts Group, which is a grass-roots group working to bring a movie venue back to downtown Troy, will be presenting "The Assassin," produced by local actor and producer, Kevin Craig West on Wednesday, July 18th at 7 p.m. in the Arts Center. For more information, check

Riverfront Park Concert Series

Collar City Live presents their summer concert series in River Front Park. Here is their schedule (in past years, folks have been known to picnic around the pavilion in the park).
  • Sun., July 8, 6PM - Georgie Wonders Big Band
  • Sun., July 15, 6PM - Nightingale
  • Sun., July 22, 6PM - Sonny & Perley “Brazilian Romance”
  • Sun., July 29, 6PM - Taineri – Latin night
  • Sun., Aug. 5, 6PM - The Lustre Kings - Rockabilly
  • Sun., Aug. 12, 6PM - Blind Mice
  • Sun., Aug. 19, 6PM - The Ron Cremisio Band
  • Sun., Aug. 26, 2PM - Take Me To The River Blues Fest (Featuring Danny Kalb)
And for the kids:
  • Wed., July 11, noon - Peter, Paul & George Family Dance
  • Wed., July 18, noon - Sensemaya for kids
  • Wed., July 25, noon - Tom Winslow
  • Wed., Aug. 1, noon - Ivy Vine Players
  • Wed., Aug. 8, noon - Cranberry the Clown
  • Wed., Aug. 15, noon - Tales ‘n& Tunes
  • Wed., Aug. 22, noon - Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band
Other Music Outdoors

Powers Park Concert Series 2007 (Lansingburgh, 7 p.m.):
  • July 7 - Country Night: North 40 Band
  • July 14 - Billy Joel Tribute: Stormfront
  • July 21 - Neil Diamond Tribute - Al Bruno
  • July 28 - Classic Rock/Funk: Wylder
  • Aug 4 - More Classic Rock/Funk: Vehicle
  • Aug 11 - Spectacular 50s Night - The Greyhounds
  • Aug 18 - Classic Rock/Funk: Groov e syndicate
Rumor also has it that concerts will be held in Prospect Park, but I do not have details.

Osgood House/Garden Tour

And, last but not least, the Osgood Neighborhood of South Troy will be presenting its annual house and garden tour on July 14th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and the tour starts at 324 Third Street.

Of course, there's far more going on than I can include here, so check local newspapers, the city's web site (, and the Washington Park Association and Little Italy newsletters.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Discover Historic Waterford, New York!

One of my favorite places in New York State's Capital District is the village of Waterford. Situated at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers and Erie and Champlain Canals, this historic village is still relatively unknown, even to Capital District natives. As far as I'm concerned, and perhaps selfishly so, that's just as well -- it is a charming, pedestrian-oriented village, with a great visitor center, historical museum, waterfront promenade, boat launch, docks, and waterfront parks, as well as pleasant, walkable residential neighborhoods and a small commercial district.

Both the Town and Village of Waterford have spent the last fifteen years working hard to complete improvements and their hard work is finally beginning to pay off. Recent improvements have included completion of the waterfront visitors center and parking area; the waterfront promenade, boat launch, and docks; pocket parks along the waterfront; beautification of the Hudson River parks on the north and south sides of Broad Street; new commercial development including McGrievey's Pub, residential and facade improvements; and streetscape improvements.

Upcoming downtown and waterfront events include:
  • June 30th-July 2nd - Steamboat Meet (including great fireworks)
  • July & August, Sunday afternoons, 2:30-4:30 p.m., Concerts in the Park
  • July 21st - Classic Car Show
  • August 7th - National Night Out
  • August 10th - Concert Under the Stars
  • August 10th-12th - Canal Splash
  • September 7th-9th - Tug Boat Roundup
  • September 22nd-23rd - Great Village Sellout (garage sales)
  • October 13th - Heritage Day
  • October 2oth - Pumpkinfest
Waterford is a great place to spend the day. You can visit the sites mentioned above; walk along the Hudson and Mohawk River waterfronts (as well as along the Erie and Champlain Canals); visit the Waterford Historical Museum & Cultural Center; picnic; shop at the village's antique stores; grab a meal at McGrievey's, Broad Street Cafe, Joe & Don's, Kielty's or Mr. Subb; walk or bicycle along the Champlain Canal; and walk, bicycle or drive along the Erie Canal's flight of five locks (to name a few things). Bike trails and bridges connect Waterford to Troy (Lansingburgh), Cohoes, including Peebles Island State Park.

For more information, call 518-233-9123 or visit the Town of Waterford's web site (

Waterford, NY: Canal and River Town’s History Explored

Canals and rivers have shaped Waterfordians’ experience throughout the community’s history. The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is sponsoring a walking tour of the Village of Waterford that will explore the history and architecture that was influenced in so many ways by the rivers and canals that surround the community. The tour will be lead by long-time Waterford resident and heritage area specialist, Lucy Breyer.

The Museum is sponsoring the walk in conjunction with the Waterford Steamboat Meet on June 30th. The walk is free of charge and participants are asked to meet at the south end of Third Street in the Village of Waterford (along the waterfront) at 9a.m. The tour will start shortly after 9am and will take about one hour.

The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is located in the 1830 Hugh White Homestead on Museum Lane in the Town of Waterford. The Museum offers various programs and exhibits year round. For more information about the Museum and its programs please contact the Museum at 238-0809 or check our website

Job: PLNYS - Regional Director of Technical and Grant Programs


The Preservation League is seeking an experienced preservation professional who will serve as the League's primary field services staff person for Eastern New York, New York City and Long Island. This is a senior position at the League that requires a trained preservation professional with extensive knowledge of historic preservation theory and practice. The Regional Director will work directly with local communities, organizations, individuals and elected officials on all aspects of historic preservation and community development. The Director will also manage established League grant and assistance programs in their territory. This position reports to the Preservation League's President and works in tandem with the Regional Director of Technical and Grant Programs for Western and Central New York. This is a full-time position located in Albany, New York and requires regular travel within the territory.

  • A degree in historic preservation or a closely related field; graduate degree preferred.
  • Minimum 5 years of professional experience in the historic preservation field.

  • Provide technical preservation assistance to individuals, organizations and municipalities seeking creative solutions to preservation challenges.
  • Advise and assist local and regional preservation organizations and citizen groups on strategies to increase their effectiveness.
  • Identify statewide and regional preservation challenges and develop tools, programs, and workshops, to address them.
  • Administer key League programs including the Preserve New York Grant Program, the Seven to Save Endangered Properties Program and the Preservation Colleagues Program that provides training to preservation groups.

  • Ability to work constructively as part of a team.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Confident public speaking skills.
  • A solid understanding of historic preservation principles and practices.
  • Strong computer skills.


The Preservation League of New York State is the
private, not-for-profit, statewide advocate dedicated to the
protection of New York's diverse and rich heritage of historic
buildings, districts, and landscapes. Founded in 1974, the League
gives voice to New York's historic resources. We partner with public
and private organizations, agencies, and individuals in communities
throughout the Empire State who are working to ensure the future of
their historic resources. The League advances effective public
policies, provides expert legal and technical assistance, targets
grants to local communities, builds the capacity of local preservation
groups, and focuses public attention on threatened properties.


Send cover letter, resume, and the names of three
references by Monday, July 9th to:
Regional Director Search
Preservation League of NYS
44 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
Tel: 518-462-5658 ext 13,

Friday, June 08, 2007

Calling Trader Joe's...

Trader Joe's in Troy? Not Yet
Developer courts grocery for growing downtown area, but upscale chain is not interested so far

From The Times Union

By Chris Churchill

TROY -- A Trader Joe's in downtown Troy? Developer Jeffrey Pfeil would like to see it, and so would some other people.

Pfeil has been unable to convince the upscale grocery chain that the Capital Region is a suitable market. But he is still trying to lure a small grocer to the Troy building he is redeveloping at Third and State streets.

That five-story structure, formerly home to Stanley's Department Store, will have apartments on the top floors and 7,500 square feet of retail space at ground level. Dubbed The Conservatory, the first residents will begin moving in this month. Retail space could be ready for occupancy within three months.

And a grocery could answer a frequent complaint among central Troy residents frustrated by a lack of easy food options.

It also could provide competition for a food co-op planned for Congress Street not far from Pfeil's building.

Pfeil, though, said he believes his building's grocery could complement a co-op. And at least one Troy resident involved in the co-op effort would welcome a commercial grocery -- especially if it is Trader Joe's.

"Everyone in Troy would love to have a Trader Joe's," said Kevin Blodgett. "So many people from here have called them."

California-based Trader Joe's is expanding rapidly on the East Coast. It has locations in metropolitan New York and Boston, as well as in Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

A Trader Joe's spokesperson declined to comment.

The business data site says the grocer is best known for its private-label health foods, organic produce and nutritional supplements. A typical store is 10,000 square feet.

"We talk to them regularly," Pfeil said. "But they haven't seen this market as one they're targeting yet."

The company apparently has few qualms about locating in New York's Manhattan or Westchester County, where incomes and population density can help ensure the profits. But Pfeil said he thinks the reluctance to come to upstate is due partly to New York's liquor laws, which would prevent the company from selling wine, including the popular Charles Shaw brand. Best known as "Two-Buck Chuck," the inexpensive wine is sold exclusively in Trader Joe's stores.

Pfeil's Troy location lacks parking, which might also give grocery owners pause. But he points out that urban grocery stores thrive in other parts of the country.

Pfeil, a principal in J.W. Pfeil & Co. Inc. in Saratoga Springs, is a real estate developer and leasing agent. He brought national retailers such as Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic to downtown Saratoga Springs, despite their initial reluctance.
Pfeil thinks they'll eventually come to downtown Troy, too, and doesn't exclude the possibility they'll occupy one of the spaces in his building.

"They'll do it someday," he said. "It's just a matter of when."

Loft Development in Another Troy Industrial Building

From Troy Record
By Danielle Sanzone; photograph by Mike McMahon.

TROY - The former Mooradians' furniture store on River Street, a 117-year-old Italianate-style building, will soon be home to 48 loft-style residential units ranging in price from $200,000 to $550,000, officials announced at a formal gathering Thursday evening.

The upscale abodes, which will be called "the mooradian lofts," should be completed by the end of next year, said Pietro Costa, one of the partners with the New Amsterdam Development Corp., which is transforming the historic building into modern lofts.

"There is no other housing like this in the capital region," Costa, a native of the Netherlands, said. "We feel there will be a large market for this type of housing with professionals, employees at the local colleges, baby-boomers and empty-nesters. Anyone who wants to experience living in a downtown atmosphere will appreciate the mooradian lofts. We are bringing chic, urban living back to this area."

While the development has received the appropriate permits and zoning approvals from the city, developers are still waiting for the final approval from the state attorney general before they can accept offers to purchase the lofts which range from 1,100 square feet to 1,600 square feet, officials said.

Following Thursday's event, however, the building's owners will begin to accept tentative reservations for people interested in purchasing the units. TL Metzger & Associates has been chosen by the developers as the exclusive broker from this project.

At Thursday's event, locals were able to tour through a couple floors of the building and see a model unit of what the loft residences could look like.

"It is very humbling seeing this vision turned into a reality," said Mayor Harry Tutunjian. "It will be great having this type of loft living available in our city."

The developers are still taking comments and suggestions from prospective buyers, but the current loft designs include units with two bathrooms, a kitchen, a loft storage area, and an open space with movable walls. The flexible walls are meant to appeal to all types of people - those with children can make another room with the walls, while single professionals can store the walls away and live in a true loft residence, said Pietro.

"We are a pioneer in loft-style housing in the city of Troy. There are no riverside residences like this in the Capital District," Costa said, referring to the Powers Park Lofts also located in the city but without a river view.

The eight-story brick building, which will include six stories of housing units, will also house a café and marketplace on the first floor with a terrace overlooking the Hudson River. The retail area will include a farmer's market-type space for local vendors and artists to sell their wares, officials said.

"As a woman who grew up in Troy, it is amazing to see this come to fruition since I know it will help revitalize the surrounding area," said Dorothy Ganz, one of the people touring the building. "It is great to see this old building turned into something new instead of torn down like so many other historic buildings in the city. I would definitely live here - it would be great to not worry about the upkeep of a house and to be able to do my shopping in the same building that I lived."

In addition to Thursday's event to showcase the new housing units, an open house is also scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Flag Day Parade and Gelato!!

I've been on the road again and apologize for not posting; with school out and summer nearly upon us, I will probably be posting less frequently anyway.

Having said that, I wanted to remind everyone that it is almost time for my favorite event of the year, Troy's annual Flag Day Parade (photograph here from City of Troy's Flag Day Parade web page). Troy's most enduring event, the Troy Flag Day Parade is now in its 40th continuous year and is the largest parade in the nation in honor of the American flag. The 2007 edition of the Troy Flag Day Parade takes place Sunday, June 10th with a line up of exciting attractions. The Parade steps off at 1:00pm Sunday, June 10th with many new attractions added to the line-up. It follows a two mile route along 4th Street beginning in South Troy at 4th & Main Street and ending at 4th & Federal Street. Following the parade, a festa with great food and music will be held at the Italian Community Center.

The parade is maintained only by public donations and corporate sponsorship; hence, community support is critical to keeping this wonderful tradition flourishing. Contributors see their dollars at work every time the parade passes by. Donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law and may be mailed to the Troy Flag Day Parade Committee, P.O. Box 56 Troy, NY 12181. Make checks payable to Troy Flag Day Fund Drive.

It is always a great, and very well attended event. Those living on Fourth Street should remember to move their cars, as the street cleaners will come through in the early a.m. Then the street venders will start patrolling the street selling their wares and making noise to call attention to themselves, while parade viewers will stake out viewing spots and seating arrangements early in the day.

Also, I just made another visit to L&S Garden Supply on Pawling Avenue this afternoon. L&S is a great place to stop by if your farmers' market produce runs out mid-week--or anytime. In addition to a great supply of bedding plants (flowers and herbs), Steve continues to have good produce (currently including asparagus, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes among other things) and has recently added GELATO and espresso to his offerings. Having sampled a combo half chocolate half coffee gelato, I can attest that it is delicious and perfect on a day like today. Flavors include chocolate, coffee, caramel, strachiatella, and tiramisu; dairy free flavors are mango, lemon, strawberry and raspberry, if I remember correctly. So please stop by and tell Steve I sent you.