Governor Hochul Announces Commencement of $67 Million Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing Project in Utica
Governor Kathy Hochul announced today that the $67 million rehabilitation and upgrade of Olbiston Apartments in the City of Utica is underway. The historic development will undergo extensive renovations after the city of Utica closed last year due to serious safety issues at the 124-year-old building. The redesigned building will contain 153 affordable, safe and energy-efficient apartments.
“The restoration of Olbiston Apartments is an example of the difference we can make in the lives of New Yorkers when we work together to replace dilapidated structures with safe and affordable housing,” Governor Hochul said. “The Olbiston Apartments renovations will save a historic gem and retain a vital supply of affordable housing, while helping us achieve our goals of green, sustainable buildings and more vibrant town centres.”
Olbiston Apartments is part of Governor Hochul’s statewide plan to make housing more affordable, equitable and stable. In the recently enacted State Budget, the Governor successfully secured a comprehensive new five-year, $25 billion housing plan that will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes in New York City, including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of 50,000 additional homes.
The Romanesque Revival building opened in 1898 as the largest apartment building in upstate New York and was subsequently subdivided several times during the 20th century. By the 1970s, the building had begun to deteriorate and decay further. In 2021, residents were evacuated after an inspection revealed unsafe conditions in the building, including extensive water damage to upper floors due to a damaged roof, broken windows, fire systems not working properly and other code violations.
The gut rehabilitation will reconfigure and modernize all apartments in the complex while maintaining the historic character of the building, including the original century-old marble floors and decorative woodwork in the common areas.
When complete, Olbiston Apartments will offer 34 studios, 87 one-bedroom units and 32 two-bedroom units, with new appliances in all units, 1,500 square feet of community space, a new terrace on the rooftop, laundry room on site. facilities, storage areas throughout the building and outdoor green spaces. The 153 apartments will be affordable for households whose income is equal to or less than 80% of the region’s median income.
The building redesign will achieve Energy Star and Enterprise Green Communities certifications using several energy efficiency measures, including a new roof membrane with increased insulation, cold climate heat pumps with efficiency ratings high energy efficiency for heating and cooling of all apartments, a central heating water system provided by 98% efficient boilers, building-wide LED lighting and Energy Star qualified appliances or equivalent. The developer of this project is Liberty Affordable Housing, Inc.
Olbiston Apartments is located just one mile southwest of the city’s downtown. The complex is on local bus routes and close to a grocery store, pharmacy, medical facilities, daycare centers and a public library.
Funding for Olbiston Apartments includes $4.8 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, state and federal low-income housing tax credits that will generate $22 million in equity and $16.3 million in grants from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has approved federal and state historic tax credits that will generate $13.4 million in equity. The City of Utica provided $3 million from the Utica Prosperity Initiative. Additional funding is provided by a deferred developer fee.
Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said: “Investing in our state’s existing housing stock is a necessary part of meeting the goals set by Governor Hochul’s housing program. New York’s investment and partnership with the City of Utica and Liberty Affordable Housing will reverse years of mismanagement and will restore the Olbiston Apartments to their original stature as a beautiful, safe and comfortable place to live Once renovations are complete, this 124-year-old building will provide 153 modern homes in a sustainably designed building that will will benefit the community of Utica for generations to come and contribute to a greener New York for all.We are grateful to the City of Utica and Liberty Affordable Housing for stepping in and working with UNHCR to save an important source of affordable housing and provide Utica residents with the quality homes they deserve.
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said: “The Olbiston Apartments project shows how historic preservation breathes new life into towns like Utica. The Historic Tax Credit program attracts reinvestment in historic structures, which helps boost local economies, develop housing, to promote sustainability and preserve the heritage of our towns and villages.
State Senator Joe Griffo said: “I am pleased that the Olbiston Apartments in Utica, once considered the pinnacle of luxury and elegance but neglected over time, will be completely renovated, rehabilitated and given new life. This project will ensure that this significant property historic remains in the community and that Utica residents and families benefit from additional safe, secure and affordable housing options.”
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said: “The Olbiston Apartments are an indelible part of Utica’s rich history and I am pleased that this building will be preserved for future generations. It was disappointing to see how badly it had deteriorated and the living conditions to which its residents were subjected to were unacceptable. Oneida County has been instrumental in helping these residents during this difficult time, and I am pleased that with public and local funding, the Olbiston will return to its former glory.
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said: “The redevelopment of the Olbiston is a great example of successful public-private partnerships. Due to gross negligence and inhumane living conditions, the city closed the Olbiston in 2021. The city provided significant funding through Through the Utica Prosperity Initiative and working in conjunction with Governor Hochul’s Office and New York States Homes and Community Renewal, Liberty Affordable Housing is revitalizing Olbiston and preserving more than 150 affordable homes. partners because it’s a win-win situation for our entire community.
MP Marianne Buttenschon said“At a time of high housing costs, it is encouraging to see the creation of 153 affordable apartments in downtown Utica. The rehabilitation of historic Olbiston apartments is a project that residents of the River Valley Mohawk should be proud.I’m happy to see as many architectural elements as possible will remain in place on this historic building.Increasing Utica’s affordable housing stock is extremely important as families are burdened by rising inflation which is exerting major pressure on our wallets.