• Strong technology sector (Forbes’ 15th-best city for innovation)
• Institutions of higher education
• Recreational and cultural amenities
• Ongoing suffering of old-economy sectors
• Sprawling growth that threatens downtown
• State government financial woes and national financial crisis
POPULATION & JOB GROWTH
The N.Y. State Department of Labor recorded 0.8% job growth for Albany in 2010; about 6.7% of its 93,836 residents are unemployed.
The recession did not devastate Albany, but it did “further slow down a stalled economy,” says Anthony Garner, AIA, an associate at Architecture +, a firm in nearby Troy. “Nearly all private-college work stalled when endowments collapsed. The New York State University Construction Fund stopped nearly everything that was not under construction, though they did fairly rapidly restart shovel-ready projects. Projects still in design remain stalled.”
According to the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, the year-to-date median home sale price was down 0.9% through the third quarter of 2010, at $168,000. Homes were on the market an average of 71 days.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE MARKET
Last year, 17% of Albany’s 6.1-million-s.f. central business district was vacant, with no office projects under construction; average asking rate: $17.55/s.f. The city’s 23.8-million-s.f. industrial market is 10.3% vacant; average asking rate: $4.36/s.f.
“Much of the activity is happening outside of the traditional city limits,” confirms John Tobin, director of architecture for local firm EYP Architecture & Engineering. “With more than $6.5 billion in public and private investments, the University at Albany’s NanoTech Complex has attracted over 250 global corporate partners—and is the most advanced research complex at any university in the world.” EYP itself is moving its 150-person office to the complex.
“Rapid growth and development are happening all around us,” Tobin says. “Hopefully high-speed rail will accompany this tremendous growth, which will provide even more direct access to this amazing region.”
Correction, Feb. 3, 2001: As originally published, this article contained errors and an omission in the project data for the State Capitol (image four in the slide show). Although there have been several restoration projects at the Capitol since the late 1970s, the "phase four" referred to is the final round in a series of projects begun in 2000; it will conclude in 2014, and at a project cost of $48.7 million. The Great Western Staircase was incorrectly shown and named as part of the scope of work for phase four, which is a comprehensive roof-rehabilitation project. Finally, engineering firm Simpson Gumphertz & Heger is the lead firm for phase four, as it was for the previous three; Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects is responsible for the interior architectural aspects of the project.