Arbor Hill: Albany, New York
Albany's Arbor Hill is a community of notable strengths and exciting opportunities, including rich historic districts and important community institutions. The neighborhood has experienced difficult times and a variety of changes over the past decades. Its hilltop location offers fantastic views of the surrounding city, the downtown, and treasured natural spaces.
Bounded to the north by I-90 and railroad corridors, to the south by Sheridan Hollow, to the east by Broadway, and to the west by Henry Johnson Boulevard.
Arbor Hill has a wealth of small neighborhood parks, the city's only community center with a year-round pool, and a large recreational park with fields and courts. In 2010, the Albany Public Library opened its first Arbor Hill/West Hill branch. Throughout Arbor Hill, quaint homes line the streets with trees and tulips, creating a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
Before the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan in 2003, the housing stock and historic buildings were compromised by poverty and neglect, and the larger neighborhood infrastructure deteriorated over time. Since then, there has been an increasing interest and dedication to the revitalization of the neighborhood. Arbor Hill has received over $77.5 million in funding to revitalize the community. This has included 200 new or rehabbed housing units, 79,000 square feet of new retail and community service spaces, an established Neighborhood Association, and new and improved parks.
The neighborhood is primarily residential with street corridors book-ending the heart of the neighborhood. The Henry Johnson Boulevard commercial corridor is a gateway to the city and connects to Arbor Hill's main arterial streets. Development along Henry Johnson Boulevard includes mixed-use buildings, housing, and commercial development. The second corridor is Clinton Avenue, which historically caters to the Arbor Hill neighborhood as the local residential development that leads directly to Downtown Albany.
Arbor Hill is home to three historic districts — Clinton Avenue, Ten Broeck Triangle, and Lark Street — and numerous historic buildings are scattered throughout the neighborhood. The historic districts feature structures from a statue of World War I hero Henry Johnson to the Stephen and Harriet Myers House for the Underground Railroad, all within close proximity to the Erie Canal. The community takes pride in its history and cultural amenities. The majority of grand row-style buildings in the city are found in Arbor Hill.
Defining Characteristics, Features
- North Swan Street Mixed Use Development was a $6.1 million project that rehabilitated and constructed 23 housing units and seven storefronts to bring the Arbor Hill community essential retail and professional services
- The King building was redeveloped into office space for the Albany County Historical Association (2013); the Ten Broeck Mansion's is home to a gift shop as well as two one-bedroom apartments rented as public housing
- A partnership formed between Albany Housing Authority, the City of Albany, and the Albany Barn (2014) redeveloped the former St. Joseph's Academy building into the Academy Lofts; 22 low-cost live/work residences for artists, and 13,500 square feet of multi-tenant creative arts incubator space, which includes rehearsal space, a dance studio, and digital media lab
- North Swan Street Park (2014) was designed as a multigenerational community park that features sustainable elements, including a reduction of impervious surfaces by 25 percent, permeable pavers, bioretention, soil restoration and decomposition, vegetated swales, and tree plantings
- The Stephen and Harriet Myers House was the residence of abolitionists Stephen and Harriet Myers; the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad and is currently being restored by the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region
- Ten Broeck Mansion (1798) is home to the headquarters of the Albany County Historical Association, which holds events, exhibits, lectures, concerts, and other programs that showcase Albany County's rich history
- Palace Theater (1931) was once the marquee theater in the city; the theater underwent a major restoration in 2003 and once again hosts live entertainment
Planning and Community Engagement
- The Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan (2003) provided a framework for residents and investors to approach development in Arbor Hill, focusing on home ownership and rental housing, arts culture and heritage, business and job development, and quality of life
- The Arbor Hill Neighborhood Advisory Committee helped guide the neighborhood plan and was made up of a variety of local stakeholders and the City of Albany
- Arbor Hill Implementation Team was created to oversee the implementation of the neighborhood plan; members meet to report on progress in their respective areas and coordinate implementation efforts
- The city recently completed the Albany 2030 Plan, the city's first comprehensive plan, and included the action items identified in the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan
- The City of Albany received several Planning Excellence Awards for the Albany 2030 plan and for the implementation of the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan by the New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association
- Albany County created the Albany County Land Bank Corporation (2014) to purchase vacant properties and bring them back to active use; the city and county have committed funding to the program and will update the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan to address how the land bank will be best used in the neighborhood