A million-dollar funding request to help preserve three derelict old houses in Albany’s Monteith Historic District has been pulled from Wednesday’s agenda of the Central Albany Revitalization Area’s advisory board.
City Hall announced the agenda change in an email this morning without an explanation.
City Councilman Rich Kellum told me the item was pulled from the agenda “because it doesn’t qualify under the rules the way it was written and I and other councilors asked that it be removed.”
Mark Siegner, the Albany builder who proposed restoring the houses with CARA’s support, had not yet been informed of the change when I talked to him about 10:15.
Siegner and his wife Tina, owners of Valley Homes Inc., bought the tax lot containing the three condemned houses in February with the view either to restoring them or replacing them with new construction.
He told me today his first thought was to tear the buildings down. But when he approached the Albany Landmarks Advisory Commission he learned the members would prefer the buildings be restored, and the commission would challenge him on any demolition plans.
He then applied to CARA for financial aid in a restoration project. The houses, at least a century old, had been neglected for decades and were in such bad shape that rebuilding them would require taking them down to the studs first. To do this and also build four garages and two apartments in the back of the lot would take nearly $1.5 million. His request to CARA was for a $500,000 loan over 15 years plus another $500,000 that would become a grant upon completion of the work.
The CARA application said the houses were contaminated with human waste, drug paraphernalia, bed bugs, fleas, rats, mice and asbestos. To properly restore them, all contamination would have to be removed first. “This requires taking the homes down to the studs to ensure the properties can be restored without question of the unknown.”
The CARA advisory board meets at 5:15 Wednesday in the council chambers at City Hall. (hh)