FAQ: University at Albany Foundation Property Purchase
Which property was purchased?
The University at Albany Foundation purchased a single parcel of land at 100-200 Nicholas La. and 18 Waverly Pl. in the McKownville area of the town of Guilderland. The approximately 8.7-acre property lies between Western Ave. and University Drive West, abutting the UAlbany campus, with its northern boundary at Norwood St.
How did the sale come about?
The University at Albany Foundation was approached by agents for the previous owner. Significant property taxes were in arrears, dating back to 2010, and the property was in the early stages of foreclosure when the Foundation and sellers reached an agreement. Part of the agreement was to pay the $115,000 in back taxes. The negotiated sale price of the property, including taxes paid, was $600,000. The sale closed on Dec. 15, 2015.
Was this purchase made secretly?
No. The property had been listed publicly for sale, in the Multiple Listing Service. And the University’s interest in the property was well-known. The Foundation had made an offer the last time it was up for sale, in 2011. After the sale closed the Foundation informed neighbors and provided contact information should they have any questions.
What was the condition of the property when the parcel was purchased?
The property was largely wooded and included two houses, a barn, and a carport. One of the houses had been abandoned for years, and both houses and the barn were deteriorating and in disrepair. There were two open cisterns that were safety hazards, as well as dead or decaying trees.
Why did the University at Albany Foundation purchase this property?
The Foundation did this in order to provide for the University’s future needs. It is very rare for large tracts of land close to or abutting the campus to come on the market. When this occurs, it makes good sense to acquire them so that the future usage of the land can be managed by the University.
What does the University at Albany plan for the property?
The Foundation's initial plans were to address the safety conditions on the property. This process began on April 25, 2016 with the removal of the houses and addressing the abandoned wells.
The University has no plans for developing the property at this time. It will be held for future needs.
Why would the institution make a significant purchase without having an immediate plan?
The University has a long-term view and believes that it is a good strategy to hold land in reserve for future needs.
The decision to purchase this parcel was also motivated by the University’s desire to avert development by others, such as private developers, in ways that may be inconsistent with the needs of campus or the neighborhood.
Is the University or the Foundation planning to buy additional homes in the neighborhood?
No. The University and the Foundation are not actively seeking to purchase additional land around the Uptown Campus.
However, the University remains open to future purchases if a favorable opportunity arises. Like most institutions land-locked in urban locations, the University must always consider opportunities to purchase additional land.
Didn’t the University promise not to buy this land in 2011, the last time it was on the market?
The University never made any such commitment. The Foundation made an offer in 2011, but it was not accepted by the sellers at that time.
Does the University plan to build dormitories on the property?
No, the University has no current intention of building dorms, residence halls or apartments on the property.
Why were the structures demolished?
After purchasing the property, the Foundation's immediate concern was to address its safety issues. The property's houses and barn, when purchased, were in a state of advanced disrepair. The Foundation followed all requirements and obtain all necessary permits, and on April 25, 2016 began the process of removing the houses and addressing the abandoned cisterns.
Before beginning the process of removing the structures, the Foundation provided the Guilderland Town Historian the opportunity to tour them, provided access to the Historic Albany Foundation to reclaim doors and fixtures, and gave the McKownville Fire Department the opportunity to use the buildings for training.
Is this an historic property?
Part of this parcel was once home to prominent Albany resident and politician William "Billy" Barnes Jr., who built a house in 1905 that burned down in 1985. The land was later home to Judge John E. Holt-Harris, whose descendants sold it to the University at Albany Foundation. Neither the land nor the structures on it are listed on the Register of Historic Places.
What about the promise made 50 years ago that the university was not going to encroach on the neighborhoods?
In 1963, when the Uptown Campus of the University at Albany was under construction, an assistant to the president for planning and development, Colonel Walter Tisdale, was quoted in a local newspaper as saying to a gathering of area residents that the university would not take over private homes for faculty housing. This is not happening, nor is it planned.
Updated April 25, 2016
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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.