“The Olbiston apartment renovation 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, affordable homes,” Governor Hochul said. “The renovations to the Olbiston apartments will salvage a historic gem and maintain an important supply of affordable housing, while also helping us achieve our goals of green, sustainable building and a livelier downtown.”
Olbiston apartments are 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 new five-year, $25 billion housing plan that would increase the housing supply by creating or maintaining 100,000 affordable homes across New York, including 10,000 with Support services for vulnerable residents, as well as electrification of an additional 50,000 homes.
The Romanesque Revival-style building originally opened in 1898 as the largest apartment building in Upstate New York and was later subdivided several times during the 20th century. By the 1970s, the building had begun to deteriorate and was left for further decay. In 2021, residents were evacuated after an inspection revealed unsafe conditions in the building including severe water damage on the upper floors due to a damaged roof, broken windows, fire systems not working properly, and other violations of the law.
The gut rehabilitation will reconfigure and update all the apartments of the complex while retaining the historic character of the building including the original century-old marble floors and wood trim in the common areas.
When complete, Olbiston Apartments will offer 34 studio apartments, 87 one-bedroom units, and 32 two-bedroom units, with new appliances in all units, 1,500 square feet of community space, a new rooftop deck, on-site laundry facilities, and storage areas Throughout the building, exterior green spaces. All 153 apartments will be affordable for families who earn 80 percent or less of the median income in the area.
The remodeling of the building will achieve Energy Star and Enterprise Green Communities certifications through the use of several energy efficiency measures, including a new roof membrane with increased insulation, cold climate heat pumps with high energy efficiency ratings for heating and cooling for all apartments, and a central heating hydroponic system provided by 98% efficiency boilers, building level LED lighting, and Energy Star rated or equivalent appliances. The developer of this project is Liberty Affordable Housing, Inc.
Olbiston Apartments are located just one mile southwest of downtown. The complex is located on local bus lines and near a grocery store, pharmacy, medical facilities, day care centers and a public library.
The Olbiston apartments financing includes $4.8 million in permanent tax-free bonds, state and federal tax credits for low-income housing that will generate $22 million in equity, and $16.3 million in support from New York State homes and community renovations. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has approved the State and Federal History Tax Credits, which will generate $13.4 million in equity. The City of Utica provided $3 million from the Utica Prosperity Initiative. Additional financing is provided through deferred developer fees.
Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Ruth Ann Wisnauskas said, “Investing in our state’s existing housing stock is a necessary component of achieving the goals set by Governor Hochhol’s housing agenda. New York’s investment and partnership with the City of Utica and affordable housing will reverse years of mismanagement and restore Olbiston apartments to their original status as a beautiful, safe, and comfortable place to live.” When complete renovations, this 124-year-old building will provide 153 modern homes in a sustainably designed building that will benefit the Utica community for future generations and contribute to a greener New York environment for all.We are grateful to the City of Utica and Liberty Affordable Housing for stepping in and working with HCR to provide a resource important for affordable housing and providing Utica residents with the quality homes they deserve.”
Commissioner of the Bureau of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Eric Colside, said, “The Olbiston Apartments project shows how historic preservation breathes new life into cities like Utica. The Historic Tax Credit program attracts reinvestment in historic structures, helping to lift local economies, expand housing, promote sustainability, and preserve the legacy of our cities and towns.”
State Senator Joe Griveaux said, “I am delighted that the Olbiston Apartments in Utica, once considered the pinnacle of luxury and elegance but have been neglected over time, will be completely renovated, rehabilitated and given new life. This project will ensure that this historically important property remains in the community and that the residents of Utica and their families receive on additional safe, secure and affordable housing options.”
Oneida County Executive Director, Anthony J. “The Olbiston Apartments are an indelible part of the rich history of Utica, and I am delighted that this building will be preserved for future generations. It was disappointing to see how degraded it was and the unacceptable living conditions to which its residents were subjected. Oneida County played an instrumental role in helping these residents during That difficult time, and I am delighted that with state and local funding, Olbiston will be restored to its former glory.”
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said, “The redevelopment of Olbiston is a prime example of successful public-private partnerships. Due to gross neglect and inhumane living conditions, the city closed Olbiston in 2021. The city provided significant funding through the Utica Prosperity Initiative, and by working in conjunction with Governor Hochul and New York States Homes and Community Renewal, Liberty Affordable Housing is working to revitalize Olbiston and maintain more than 150 affordable housing units. I thank all partners as this is a win-win situation.”
Society member Marianne Potenchon said:“At a time when housing costs are rising, it is encouraging to see the construction of 153 affordable apartments in downtown Utica. The rehabilitation of the historic Olbiston Apartments is a project that the people of the Mohawk Valley should be proud of. I am glad to see as many items as possible. The architecture will remain in place in this historic building. Increasing Utica’s stock of affordable housing is very important because families are burdened by the growing inflation that is putting huge pressures on our wallets.”