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Preservation League announces new plans for old buildings

Jenna Flanagan
Innovation Trail
Rodgers Liquor Building in Albany

Everything old is new again, so the saying goes. With that in mind, the Preservation League of New York State announced a plan to repurpose five vacant industrial buildings in the Capital region with the hopes of attracting young professionals and revitalizing communities.

The Industrial Heritage Reuse Project, or "trendy hipster bait," launched on Thursday in hopes of breathing new live into old buildings.

“Young entrepreneurs, young professionals that we see coming to communities are often looking for those interesting neat places to live," says Jay DiLorenzo, the president of the Preservation League of New York. "They want to live in walkable communities. They want to live in communities where there is a night life, in areas where you have vibrancy, where you have fascinating architecture. That’s what draws the young professional class that we all need in our communities.”

The Rodgers Liquor building on the north end of Broadway in Albany is the former site of the International Harvester Company, and is one of five buildings at locations in Troy, Schenectady and Albany that have been chosen for the reuse project.

They have been targeted because they’ve got interested owners and are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

DiLorenzo says the addition of tech industry companies like Fab 8 and the expanding GE Energy Research Center will begin to change the demographics of the Capital region.

“We’re going to start seeing those young professionals move into the community," DiLorenzo explained. "They don’t want to live in greenfields. They want to live where they can walk, where they can meet others, where they can go to the coffee shop and these industrial buildings are cited in those communities.”

The Industrial Heritage Reuse Project will provide building owners with cost estimates, a list of funding assistance and a much needed code evaluation.

However, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says whether the buildings end up as commercial, mixed use or residential is up to each community.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
Credit Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trailresidential is up to each community.

“This is an active industrial area still, and so we have to be very thoughtful in how we approach it," Sheehan said. "There are thriving businesses down here, there are jobs down here, so we need to be balanced in our approach to redevelopment.”

Sheehan says the cities will need to be rezoned to accommodate the repurposed buildings.

The Preservation League of New York State says it will conduct a symposium at the end of the year to discuss how the program can be best implemented.

The program will stand as a template for reusing historic sites in other parts of the state.

Jenna first knew she was destined for a career in journalism after following the weekly reports of the Muppet News Flash as a child. In high school she wrote for her student newspaper and attended a journalism camp at SUNY New Paltz, her Hudson Valley hometown. Jenna then went on to study communications and journalism at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ where she earned her Bachelor of Arts.