response to “In the Public Interest,” submitted by Susan McCann
of the Community Builders Inc., it is apparent that, rather
than set the record straight, she simply offers an apologia
for an ill-conceived plan [Letters, Feb. 21].
1. Ms. McCann stated that there would be no profit on the
Grand Street project. Does she really think that the Albany
public is that gullible? My company has completed 38 renovations
of one- and two-family homes in Albany at a cost of $1.6 million.
If for $5 million dollars they can’t turn a profit on nine
properties, they are either burying the profit in related
corporations or high salaries, or they are so inefficient
at what they do that they are wasting taxpayer money. Either
way, Community Builders’ need of $5 million dollars for this
project is totally absurd. Maybe they would consider making
their records public so we could better understand the flow
2. Concerning my grasp of the costs involved, over the last
three years my company has completed more than 70 homes in
the greater Capital Region, far more than any other privately
held or nonprofit renovation company. I have a very good idea
of the expense, and in my opinion, this is another example
of government-subsidized overspending. Anyone want a $200
3. The notation that a revolving-loan fund and owner occupants
won’t work on Grand Street is a totally self-serving statement.
My company has completed many renovations in some of the toughest
neighborhoods in Arbor Hill and South Albany. Grand Street
is a walk in the park compared to some of these areas. People
want to live in Albany, and Grand Street is no exception.
There are large, faith-based support groups in the area and
willing owner occupants to plant the seeds of stabilization.
If someone would rent there, why wouldn’t they buy there?
4. As far as the claim they are dedensifying the neighborhood,
I find that hard to believe. Unless these are the largest
one- and two-bedroom units in the city, I don’t see how Community
Builders can be serious. Furthermore, one- and two-bedroom
apartments don’t support families, and families stabilize
5. As far as apologizing for these projects not being feasible
for owner occupants, I understand why! Who could afford to
buy houses costing over half a million dollars apiece in downtown
Albany? No one, that’s who, and that’s why, taking
the long view, this project is so ill conceived. Overbuilding
the area creates white elephants that cannot and will not
be supported long after the renters have moved out and Community
Builders has finished with Albany and moved on.
The Grand Street project in its present form does nothing
for the long-term growth and stabilization of Albany. History
has proven that with a string of long-term renovation failures
earmarked by nonowner-occupant status. For a lot less money,
we could have a far greater impact by supporting owner occupants
and market-value renovations of many neglected areas in Albany.
That would truly be in the public interest.
Us Another . . .
Feb. 28, I, like so many other concerned neighbors and residents
of the Lark Street area, attended on short notice our own
Jerry Springer Show, although this one was hosted by
Jerry Jennings, mayor of Albany [Newsfront, March 7].
After an elaborate presentation by court jesters and paid
consultants, lacking only a display of fireworks, the public
was granted permission to approach the throne and speak.
The first was John Wagner. Now, Mr. Wagner was named “Mayor
of Lark Street” several years ago, and I can see how his desire
to support Jerry’s plan would be no surprise. From reliable
sources, I learned that Mr. Wagner had two benches that were
located near his business, on the corner of Lancaster and
Lark streets, removed because they attracted undesirable users.
This would seem to be someone who could express his
unbiased concern for Lark Street, since his personal desires
outweigh those of the number of elderly and disabled individuals
who cross from Washington Avenue to Madison Avenue and would
welcome a friendly midway bench to rest on.
But back to the business of Lark Street and the concept of
“closing” Lark Street for one whole year or more to rehabilitate
Lark Street, I am told, is the third-busiest crossover
street in the city of Albany. Would the city neglect its responsibility
to the safety and transportation needs of the city by closing
off this street for one year or more? I think not.
How many street-construction sites have we encountered in
which an entire city street is closed? Come on, Jerry.
We need better than that. Stop the threats and let’s address
the real issues.
Jerry Jennings has said “Lark Street deserves better.” You’re
absolutely right, Jerry. Why don’t you give it to us?
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