Estee demolition could begin late spring

PHOTOGRAPHER:
The former Estee school building in Gloversville will be torn down to make way for low-income senior housing. (The Leader-Herald/Kerry Minor)

GLOVERSVILLE — The demolition of the former Estee school building on North Main Street could begin in late spring, according to grant writer Nick Zabawsky.

Zabawsky spoke with the Common Council on Tuesday about two resolutions involving grants related to the project.

The $8 million project will cater to low-income seniors 55 and older. Liberty Affordable Housing of Rome in Oneida County, which owns apartment complexes in Amsterdam and other places, agreed in 2013 to buy the property. The company would level the vacant school and build a 37-unit apartment building on the site.

The definition of low income will be at or below 50 percent of the area median income.

Six of the units will be set aside for people with physical disabilities and/or frail elderly. Priority will be given to veterans for these six units.

The project also proposes to try to keep some of the architectural elements of the building, but it will be torn down.

The building is in poor shape, with bricks falling off the sides. The interior condition of the building is also of concern, including the presence of black mold. The state agreed to let the city forgo interior photography of the building, due to the health concerns related to the mold.

The project was also awarded a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant nearly two years ago.

Zabawsky said the city needs to enter into a sub-grantee relationship with the developers of the project, Liberty Affordable housing, in which Gloversville would be the main grantee.

In December, the Common Council voted to accept a $3.7 million grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Zabawsky said these funds were recaputured from major banks during the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008.

“It’s funneled through various state entities,” he said. “This is one of the first projects, in fact it may be the first project, funded through this method.”

Zabawsky said the city is the grant recipient.

Prior to the project being awarded the $3.7 million in funding, the city and Liberty had been looking to scrap the project due to lack of funds. The council passed a resolution that would allow the use of the $400,000 grant for the demolition of the buildings, with plans to make it a greenspace. The council later altered course after the Local Initiatives Support Coporation grant was announced.

The two resolutions approved Tuesday allow the mayor to exectute agreement from the grants, subject to city attorney Anthony Casale’s approval.

“The reason we’re doing it now, is looks like we’re going to be closing on the Estee project fianancing in early-May and hopefull sometime in May we’ll start seeing some action at that site,” Zabawsky said.

Mayor Dayton King said this is a major project for the city, and one they have been looking forward to doing.

“We have a lot going on. This one has been a long time coming and I’m excited for it,” King said.

Kerry Minor can be reached at [email protected]

By Chad Fleck

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