Formerly Abandoned Park South Building Now Home to 9 Fully Renovated Apartments

October 27, 2010

70 Morris Street

Albany, NY –  Officials from the Capitalize Albany Corporation, joined developers Lou Chicatelli and Chris Maddalone, Mayor Jennings,  KeyBank, and local residents to celebrate the opening of a newly renovated apartment building in Albany’s Park South neighborhood.

“Today is an exciting day for this neighborhood,” said Mayor Jennings. “This new building will provide high quality housing to the people who live, work and study in this neighborhood. Just last week we celebrated the opening of the new office/commercial space on New Scotland Ave, and with the opening of this new residential building, there is continuous momentum for Park South and the entire community.”

The nine unit building began initial rent-up last month, and five of the units are already occupied

The unveiling of this renovation project is a particular victory for the neighborhood in light of the history of the building. In 2008, the City of Albany facilitated the sale of the seventy year old property from a former absentee landlord to Morris Street Development LLC, owned by Lou Chicatelli and Chris Maddalone.

This was one of the first triumphs for the City’s vacant building court, established in 2008 to combat neglectful property activity. The former owner had allowed the building to deteriorate until it became a safety hazard, and required the City to institute a costly 24-hour code watch. The former building owner did not comply with requirements and chose to sell the property. Shortly after, Morris Street Development LLC acquired the building and began a total rehabilitation.

“If it weren’t for the City and local neighborhood’s long standing commitment to the revitalization of the Park South neighborhood, we would have questioned the viability of a project of this size,” said Louis W. Chicatelli Jr.  “The staff of the Mayor’s office and particularly the highly qualified staff of the Capitalize Albany Corporation helped us make, what could have been an onerous project, a success.  Due to our positive experience, we are looking forward to pursuing other redevelopment projects in the neighborhood and City.”

To assist with project financing, the developers Lou Chicatelli and Chris Maddalone worked with KeyBank and the Capitalize Albany Corporation for lending. The project also went through the City’s Industrial Development Agency to help with project development costs, including real property tax incentives.

“KeyBank is proud to provide $620,000 in construction financing for this project, which will expand residential opportunities in the increasingly vital Park South Redevelopment Plan neighborhood,” said Jeffrey Stone, President, Capital Region, KeyBank. “This development is just the latest in a series of KeyBank financing commitments that are helping to bring the Plan to life. We previously financed mixed use buildings at 16 and 22 New Scotland Avenue and apartments at 100-104 Morton Ave., and we’re delighted to be part of this exciting new residential development.”

With renovation projects happening in other parts of the neighborhood, including Knox Street and further up Morris Street, the building at the corner of Morris and Knox Street was a prime location for redevelopment.  This particular building had been a neighborhood nuisance for many years drawing repeated code violations for neglect.  The situation came to a head in 2008 when the mortar on the façade became so deteriorated that bricks were falling onto the street posing a hazard to pedestrians. This triggered the City’s emergency 24-hour watch.

Due to the significant investment required for a project like this, the developers worked with the City and the Capitalize Albany Corporation to structure the redevelopment financing in a way that made it viable.

“Abandoned property cases require tremendous amounts of time, energy and funding to resolve,” said Michael Yevoli, Commissioner of Development and Planning. “70 Morris St. is an example of the policies, programs and initiatives the City worked together to develop creating the positive change that they were designed to make. We took the time to do it right, and we are beginning to see rewards now because of it.”

After two years, and $865,000 in investment, the project was completed under budget and ahead of scheduled completion.  With help from the City of Albany Industrial Development Agency, the Community Preservation Corporation, and the Capitalize Albany Corporation, this formerly abandoned building is now home to nine high quality apartments.