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Albany Opens 280 North Pearl St. Ida Yarborough High-Rise

The revitalization of downtown Albany took a step forward this week with the grand opening of a new apartment building under construction since 2016.

"When you have pride in your neighborhood, when you have pride in where you live, anything is possible." ~ Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan

Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting at 280 North Pearl Street marked a new era for the Ida Yarborough Apartments, public housing that received a makeover ahead of the construction of a seven-story, high-tech apartment building.

The $26.8 million second of four phases of the redevelopment initiative is now complete, with 76 apartments now available for families with a mix of income levels.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
The project is designed to accommodate large families with a mix of one, two, three, four, and five-bedroom apartments.

A geometric-design theme sets off the multicolored high-tech building which offers spacious apartments and an on-site fitness center.  

"When I talk about creating a city where every neighborhood works, where every neighborhood is safe, where every neighborhood has quality housing that's affordable to the people who live there and has access to great jobs, this is the vision. This is the manifestation of that vision of creating housing that is focused on affordability at multiple levels, on our families and on being close to centers for employment and really focusing on creating a sense of pride. When you have pride in your neighborhood, when you have pride in where you live, anything is possible,"  said Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who touted the affordable housing loaded with modern amenities including a garden, laundromat, health center and parking.   "This is personal for me. This is my neighborhood. I've lived in this neighborhood now for two whole weeks. I love it. I love everything about it. I love the people, I love seeing and experiencing new things and the sense of pride that is growing. The sense of being able to point to this investment."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
The development was built to Enterprise Green Communities and ENERGY STAR standards, and boasts ample green space including a community garden and a playground made with reclaimed and recycled materials.

Laura Manning appreciates the effort: she became a resident of the new building with assistance from the Albany Housing Authority.  "I got here in 2010, right in the midst of the great recession. I had just been laid off. I was literally in tears, wondering how I was gonna pay my $1200 rent for two bedrooms, and I got the letter that said 'you are at the top of the list. We have an apartment for you.' And from that time on, the staff at Albany Housing directed me to self-sufficiency programs, I went back to college, I am a semester away from my bachelor's degree in public policy. I was able to make those decisions because I didn't have to worry about how I was gonna meet the rent. I can work part-time and attend school full-time because I don't need three jobs to pay my rent and my utilities."

Manning thinks of Ida Yarborough as a village.   "My appliances, my cheap utilities, my green roof, my central air and heat. Thank you for providing us with the type of housing many people say low-income people do not deserve."

Federal and state tax credits helped fund the $45 million Ida Yarborough project. When complete, there will be 335 apartments. The next phase recently received a $200,000 award as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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