Albany County officials gathered in the city's South End this morning to announce a new building rehab project.
Outside the former St. John’s Church, at 142 Green Street, officials revealed the church, vacant for decade, will be transformed into an apartment building consisting of 20 "affordable" units.
On February 11th, the Albany County Legislature approved a request to convey ownership of the property to Chiou Development Group, which plans to invest $3 million dollars. CEO Patrick Chiou: "Behind me we have this church that I've actually been looking at for five, six years everyday, I think all of you guys have seen it driving past 787 downtown. It's a beautiful, beautiful church. So right now we plan to convert it into 20 affordable residential units with a mix of studios one and two bedrooms, with the support of our partners at Community Preservation Corp. Michael Skrebutenas and his office and the state of New York and its small housing program this will be the first of its kind adapted for use of a church in the Albany area. Although widely popular already across the country and in Canada, I belive this will be a unique and special project using old and new to make this a wonderful innovative project. We have our work cut out for us in the future, but we will be making this another successful new addition to the city of Albany and the South End."
Chiou couldn't give a timetable for development but expects the initial work of stabilizing the old church to begin in a few months. County Executive Dan McCoy pointed to the Board Of Elections moving to the former DMV building as one indicator change is coming to the neighborhood. "And there's a lot of things we're looking to invest to make this a stabilized community because they deserve it. It's part of the Albany County piece of the city of Albany that really has so much beauty to offer. "
County Legislator Sam Fein represents the area: "If we drive the development in the South End, if the development is driven by the community with partnership with government that provides economic opportunity for residents here, opportunities to work, opportunities to start businesses, to live in a nicer community, to have important amenities liek a grocery store, you know I think this'll really make a big difference for the residents and community here."
Fein and others are trying to attract a non-profit grocery chain to the neighborhood, which Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar — now running for county comptroller — says has gotten a bad rap: "I think there's been a terrible misperception that the South End is and neighborhood that's been fueled by some public comments from some people. Private investment goes into good neighborhoods. Private investment goes where they see a future and what this is showing here today is that there's a future in the South End for everybody."