Impact Downtown Albany
Capitalize Albany CorporationImpact Downtown Albany is the strategic plan and proven solution inspiring reinvestment and catalyzing unprecedented economic growth in the Capital City’s downtown. This market-driven, action-oriented strategic plan recognizes and positions downtown Albany, its adjacent warehouse district and riverfront as the ideal 21st Century walkable urban center –a strong economic hub, a vibrant neighborhood and a modern, dynamic destination. The plan embraces public and private collaboration as a proven model for unlocking the potential of great places. More than three dozen key stakeholders –including private corporations, non-profit entities, academic institutions and public entities –came together to champion the revitalization of downtown Albany. Its results-driven implementation is currently acting as a guide for local redevelopment and reinvestment in a manner that meets the needs of residents, businesses and other stakeholders.
The Project Need(s):
Despite national demographic and market trends that favor downtowns once again as great places to live, work, learn and play; despite downtown Albany’s clear assets like being a major employment center, having river frontage and historic architecture; and despite ongoing efforts by the State of New York, City of Albany, the City’s economic development organization Capitalize Albany Corporation and other entities to encourage downtown reinvestment, serious obstacles continued to steer the general public and potential investors away from downtown Albany.
Vacant storefronts and buildings in prominent places disproportionately tarnished perception of downtown Albany as a place of value. High property tax rates are driven by the City’s small taxable property base. Parking costs, combined with high taxes, put downtown at a disadvantage against alternative locations. Market prices for housing, office and retail space struggle to cover construction costs for rehabilitation and, especially, new construction. Challenges coordinating a vision, actions and resources among multiple organizations hindered promoting downtown.
The Project Solution:
Working to address these challenges, Impact Downtown Albany is currently advancing downtown Albany’s untapped power to drive community and economic growth in Albany and the Capital Region. With substantial input from local stakeholders, the Plan was developed by Capitalize Albany Corporation and a consultant team led by Goody Clancy, an award-winning, interdisciplinary architecture, planning, and preservation firm located in Boston, Massachusetts. On November 19, 2013 a kick-off event was held to begin a research and development phase. More than two dozen workshops, events and public meetings were held with residents, community leaders and other downtown stakeholders to gather feedback, present research findings and the developed strategic plan.
Stakeholder feedback was combined with the consultant team’s market research and analysis of existing conditions which focused on topics such as parking, Albany’s housing market, office and retail market.
Implementation of the strategy began in 2014. Guided by the strategic plan’s developed vision and supporting research, currently more than $130 million worth of new investment has taken shape in downtown and its adjacent warehouse district. More than $180 million worth of additional investment is either under construction or in the early stages of the development process.
The strategic plan, its guiding supplemental materials and related news can be found at http://capitalizealbany.com/impact-downtown/.