Amendment approval paves way for affordable senior housing in Guilderland

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

The Guilderland Town Board in 2017 approved a plan for a senior facility on New Karner Road that was supposed to offer independent and assisted living and memory care, among other amenities. This week, the board approved an amendment to the local law that created the facility.

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland Town Board’s unanimous approval of an amendment to a 2017 law will allow 96 market-rate senior apartments slated for New Karner Road to become 86 affordable senior-housing units instead.

The town board on Tuesday approved the amendment to Local Law 7 of 2017, which established the planned unit development for Pine Bush Senior Living at 24 New Karner Road.

A narrative included with an earlier board agenda said the development is designed for 55-plus senior-citizen households with incomes from 30 percent to 90 percent of the area median income — net rents would range from about $444 to $1,244 per month. 

Fourteen of the units are being set aside for frail elderly seniors; nine units are being designed for mobility-impaired residents; and four units are for seniors who have a visual and/or auditory impairment.

The Guilderland Planning Board, which is the lead agency on the project, said developer NRP Holdings LLC could proceed with a building permit application, Supervisor Peter Barber said at Tuesday’s meeting. 

But the company first needs money to do that.

The Enterprise had previously and incorrectly reported the project was already funded. 

Chris Dirr of NRP told the board on Tuesday that the application for HCR (New York State Homes and Community Renewal) funding was due by Aug. 26, and that an award would be made before the end of the year.

If successful, NRP would hope to close with the state on the funding by spring or summer of next year and then start construction, Dirr said; construction would take 14 to 15 months.

If the NRP isn’t successful, the company could reapply during the next funding round, in December — the announcement of whether or not NRP received the funds would come four to five months after that, Dirr said.

NRP has two years to get its building permit before the land reverts back to its original zoning. 

Councilman Paul Pastore asked if the two-year window would be tight.

Dirr said he hoped the two-year period “would be sufficient” for the company to receive an allocation of funding, close on the funding, and start construction, but he didn’t think construction would be completed in two years. 



Over three public hearings, two held by the town board and one by the planning board, speakers made broad, unfavorable comments about the project in general but not so much about the matter before the board, which was narrow in scope — replacing 96 independent housing units with 86 mixed-income, affordable senior-housing units.

Iris Broyde, a Westmere resident, said the project needed more scrutiny. 

Robyn Gray of Guilderland was concerned the proposal went from a single-phase to a two-phase project, and that the second phase might not ever get built. 

Gray also said the second phase is far more important than the first.

The second phase would construct a 72-bed assisted-living and 48-bed memory-care facility. 

During the Aug. 11 planning board meeting, Daniel Hershberg, the engineer for project developer NRP Holdings LLC, said no second phase is planned yet.

Lynne Jackson, of the not-for-profit advocacy group Save the Pine Bush, said affordable senior housing is needed, just not in the middle of the Pine Bush.

Jackson was also concerned that 11 acres of bat habit would be “bulldozed” in exchange for the preservation of 39 acres and $48,000 (NRP is donating the money to Friends of the Pine Bush Commission) to acquire additional Pine Bush land. The development is to be located on the front 11 acres of an approximately 51-acre parcel, with the remaining acreage being donated to the Pine Bush Preserve.

After the public had its time to voice its opinion, Barber took a moment before voting to approve the amendment. 

“I agree that this project was intended to be a continuum-of-care and age-in-place [facility], and that’s my hope they will be,” he said. “And [it was] the basis of the SEQR [State Environmental Quality Review] determination by the board five years ago, and the original decision five years ago to rezone this property to PUD, to a Planned Unit Development.

“But I will have to disagree on one point. If for some reason phase two is not built, even though I think this would be a perfect project, a wonderful project if both phases were built, I mean you’re here to tell me that the only thing being built is phase one: 86 affordable senior living [units]. I would take that in a heartbeat.

“There is a market survey out there showing that we’re not meeting the needs of housing for seniors in our town. It’s been true for the past 10 years, it’s been true ... probably for the past 30 years ... They could probably build a dozen of these things and still not meet the needs.

“Our census shows we’re getting older in our town, and we’re basically turning away Guilderland residents — which is the capture area for this — who have already shown there’s a demand for this housing in our town,” Barber said.

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