CRG builds plan to tear down old school

GLOVERSVILLE – Officials will know this spring whether a developer will be able to follow through with plans for an $8 million housing complex at the site of the former Estee Middle School. But either way, they plan to have the building torn down by the end of the year.

Liberty Affordable Housing, which owns apartment complexes in Amsterdam and elsewhere in upstate New York, agreed in 2013 to buy the property, tear down the vacant school and build a similar-looking 37-unit apartment building.

But the purchase was contingent on funding from the state Division of Housing & Community Renewal, and the company was unsuccessful in its first two applications, including last year when it sought $2 million in Housing Trust Fund Program funds and $800,000 from low income housing credit programs.

“The funding should be announced in the middle of May,” said Ron Peters, CEO of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, which has a subsidiary that owns the building. “If they don’t get it in the middle of May, I think that’ll be it.”

Julie Flynn, development director for Oneida County-based Liberty Affordable Housing, said the company’s contract with the CRG expires after this round of funding.

“Both sides would have to agree to continue if we wanted to keep going,” she said.

“If it doesn’t happen, I hope the CRG will go ahead and demolish it and market the property,” Mayor Dayton King said.

Peters told the CRG board last week he wants to begin planning to tear down the building at the corner of North Main Street and Prospect Avenue, which has been empty for about 15 years.

The city has $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the property which must be spent by the end of the year. Along with other state funding, Peters said, there is about $650,000 available toward what he anticipates as an $800,000 expense.

The balance would hopefully come from other state funds, said Peters, who told his board he’d been talking with the Solid Waste Department about how to dispose of the building economically.

Liberty Affordable Housing’s purchase also would have included Estee Commons, the portion of the former school that was renovated into apartments. Peters told the board all of the building’s 39 units are rented.

Flynn said Liberty Affordable Housing is optimistic it will receive the funding on its third attempt. Only one in three applicants were successful last year.

“They said our application was fine. There just wasn’t enough money to go around,” she said. “We’re holding our breath. I check the website every day just to see how many applications have been submitted.”

Peters told the CRG board another developer has approached him about using the property if Liberty Affordable Housing’s proposal falls through. But King says he is not aware of any other proposed uses for the property.

“Nobody’s beating down my door to take it,” he said.

This would be the second large demolition in the city this decade. In 2011, the abandoned First Baptist Church on South Main Street was demolished at a total cost around $500,000, most of it covered by state funds.

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