Dominick Calsolaro

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Put focus on neighborhoods

Published on 2/22/2010 by the Times Union

I found Paul Bray's Feb. 14 column, "Forget about an Albany convention center," and the article, "Modest proposals," in that day's business section to be a good coincidence.
Bray writes about the need to scrap the convention center and to concentrate on smaller projects such as a "complex of residential, office, food store and retail development" downtown. He also cites my recommendations to create a ReBuild Albany Authority to replace the convention center authority as a better option than building a $220 million convention center.

In "Modest proposals," with the subhead, "Smaller residential projects hold promise for downtown," business writer Chris Churchill reports about the problems large-scale development proposals have had in getting off the ground in downtown Albany, while noting the success of small-scale residential development downtown.

The key to revitalizing Albany's downtown and its adjacent neighborhoods, where a majority of the vacant and abandoned buildings exist, is to bring mixed-use residential development downtown while rebuilding our inner-city neighborhoods through the ReBuild Albany Authority. As Churchill writes, Albany Commissioner of Development and Planning Mike "Yevoli and others see housing as a key component to a truly vibrant downtown."

It is time to pass on the grandiose, quarter-of-a-billion-dollar proposal for a nice city amenity -- the convention center -- and to instead concentrate on investing the necessary capital to solve Albany's vacant and abandoned building problem. Downtown's rebirth as a residential community, and extending that rebirth to Arbor Hill, West Hill and the South End, will truly be the transformational project that makes Albany a desirable place to live.

Dominick Calsolaro

Common Council Member
First Ward, Albany