Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of The Barn and Academy Lofts at the Barn, a restoration project designed to increase affordable housing opportunities and serve as an innovative business incubator in Albanys Arbor Hill neighborhood. This collaborative project has transformed the long vacant St. Josephs Academy into affordable apartments and a multi-purpose site for the arts community that is expected to generate nearly $10 million in local economic activity and leveraged support from State and local partners, including the Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC).
"This showcases how the Regional Economic Development councils are creating real economic growth from the ground up, not the top down," Governor Cuomo said. "The project creates affordable housing and community space while leveraging private investment, a great combination for the capitol region.
Located at North Swan and Second Streets, The Barn/Academy Lofts will provide 22 affordable apartments to the artist community, with on-site studio space that will be multi-purposed as a business incubator for the arts and an arts-oriented community center open to local residents. The project includes 14,000-plus square feet of space for work studios, rehearsal suites, performance space, a digital media center, retail space and offices for the professional artist community. Albany Barn, Inc. serves as the projects creative enterprise partner and manages the sustainable creative arts incubator and community arts center in the Academy Lofts at The Barn project.
The project is supported by both state and local partners, including the CREDC, Empire State Development (ESD), New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the Albany Housing Authority and the City of Albany. The project aligns with the CREDCs focus in its strategic plan on development within the urban core, and restoring, rebuilding and revitalizing streets and communities to ensure economic prosperity in the region.
In the first round of the Regional Council initiative, the City of Albany Industrial Development Authority (IDA) was awarded $5.4 million in low-cost financing to assist with major components of the restoration project, and HCR was authorized to award $2.4 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Empire State Development provided $4.5 million in Restore NY grant funding, and $350,000 in local support was awarded through the Federal Home Loan Bank and Historic Tax Credits.
CREDC Co-Chairs James Barba, President & CEO of Albany Medical Center, and Robert Jones, President of the SUNY University at Albany said, The Capital Region Economic Development Council is pleased to see the vision that was The Barn/Academy Lofts project come to reality in a way that will boost that neighborhood and the city as a whole. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, the Council has recognized the critical importance that arts, culture and tourism play in growing the economy and will continue to support projects like this that will produce tangible results."
Commissioner & CEO of HCR Darryl C. Towns said, "Governor Andrew Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils are working across the state to bring innovative projects like The Barn/Academy Lofts to life. The Barn/Academy Lofts is injecting millions of dollars into the City of Albany and is a centerpiece of the Arbor Hill neighborhood revitalization strategy. This multi-faceted development provides quality affordable housing, invests in art, culture, and historic preservation--and will grow the local economy. Congratulations to the Albany Housing Authority and Albany Barn Inc. for making Academy Lofts a reality."
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, The Barn/Academy Lofts is a unique revitalization project that will be a catalyst for additional private investment in the Arbor Hill neighborhood. This project received support from ESDs Restore NY program and we applaud the creation of a development that brings together housing, the arts and business to produce a more economically sustainable community."
Senator Neil Breslin said, As the Senator representing the great City of Albany, revitalizing the Arbor Hill neighborhood has been a long-time priority for me and todays announcement is most welcomed news. These economic development funds will help more families find quality affordable housing and will encourage economic development that will aid the local and state economy. I commend Governor Cuomo and Mayor Sheehan for their efforts and leadership on this project and look forward to working with them to grow and improve the City of Albany."
Assemblymember John T. McDonald III said, The completion of The Barn/Academy Lofts is a perfect example of the potential reuse of our rich, historic assets here in the Capital Region. This project is a success due to a combination of public and private sector support. It has brought life back to a historic property that impacted the lives of so many during it's time as an educational facility and will have an everlasting impact moving forward. The Academy Lofts is the newest example of live/work environments here in the Capital City and is a model for upstate communities to replicate as we continue to revitalize our urban centers.
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, Albany Barn's Academy Lofts is a terrific example of a collaborative incubator, which will provide an economic spark in an area of tremendous need by bringing jobs, affordable housing, and business investment. Governor Cuomo, the Capital Region Economic Development Council, the Albany Housing Authority, and the Albany Barn are all to be commended for making this important revitalization effort a reality.
County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, This project represents what partnership and collaboration is all about. When we focus our economic development efforts on innovative approaches to the challenges we face, I am confident that together we can help our urban areas thrive, provide affordable housing opportunities and energize our neighborhoods. Congratulations to all those who worked to make this day possible.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, Rebuilding our neighborhoods into more vibrant communities is crucial to our success as a city. The Barn/Academy Lofts project incorporates the rich history, diversity and culture of this neighborhood, while attracting new residents, businesses and investments to an area that is replete with potential. I fully expect that we will look back on this day as an important step to revitalizing this neighborhood."
President of the Albany Common Council Carolyn McLaughlin said, The Barn and Academy Lofts is a step in the direction of revitalizing Albany and the inner city near the new St. Josephs. We hope the revitalization will bring people back to the neighborhood to witness the cultural vibrancy that will exist in that building."
The City of Albanys Department of Development and Planning Commissioner Mike Yevoli said, Attracting the creative class to the City of Albany is essential to keeping our community vibrant, and The Barn/Academy Lofts reaches these individuals in a truly unique way. The Barn/Academy Lofts not only provides the artist community with a space to work and live, it creatively reuses a once blighted property in the Arbor Hill neighborhood and gives it a unique, new purpose. We have worked hard to bring the right partners and resources together to implement the Arbor Hill Plan and revitalize this historic neighborhood. The Barn and Academy Lofts maximizes the full potential of this historic building and allows it to once again serve as an anchor for the community. This project is an excellent example of the Citys commitment to finding creative solutions for challenging vacant urban properties.
Albany Housing Authority Executive Director Steve Longo said, Today we have proven to a new generation the value of hard work and perseverance, The Barn and Academy Lofts at The Barn will definitely impress all those that pass through its doors. Our neighbors are venturing outside after the long winter and, along with the rebirth of the trees and flowers, they are now able to see the rebirth of the old St. Josephs Academy. The enthusiasm coming from their new artistic neighbors will lead the way for the renaissance of this proud neighborhood. This was a difficult project to both finance and build and there are many heroes who played significant roles, from the many funding sources to the dedicated trade workers who worked so hard to achieve perfection, we offer our sincerest thanks and appreciation.
President of Albany Barn Jeff Mirel said, The Barn answers a real need for aspiring regional artists and artisans seeking opportunities to create, collaborate, perform and exhibit while also fostering connections between those artists and the community--particularly youth--through creative activity and engagement. We hope The Barn will be a cornerstone of neighborhood renaissance."
President of Norstar Development USA, L.P. and developer of the project, Richard Higgins said, The redevelopment of the former St. Josephs School into an innovative live/work affordable housing community for artists is an exciting addition to the City of Albany. Without the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the Regional Economic Development Council, the project would not have been possible. We are proud to have been a part of this important endeavor."
The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Cuomos approach to State investment and economic development. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources.