Site Plan Approved for Student Housing

The site plan for student housing submitted by Omni Development and Sequence Development was approved by the Troy Planning Commission on Thursday, Sep. 11.

Omni hopes to begin construction in December or January once their land lease contact with Hudson Valley is finalized and they take over control of the land. They will demolish the Hy Rosenblum building on the corner of Morrison and Vandenburgh to make way for the 328 bed apartment complex for Hudson Valley students.

For over a year, residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the site have raised concerns during a series of public meetings. On Thursday night at Troy City Hall, a final rundown of some lingering issues were reviewed with opportunity for public comment. Although Omni Development has conceded to many of the demands the community put forward, there are a few remaining.

Many of the concerns center around additional traffic to the already congested Morrison Avenue, which is the hill that many students coming from the west take to campus. Some residents are disappointed that a left turn entrance will be allowed there.

“The access on Morrison Avenue is critical to our own neighborhood and I’m really disappointed. I thought you guys were going to come through,” said local resident Amy Searson, addressing the Troy Planning Commission.

Omni believes that their current access plan, with a new right turn only exit being added on Vandenburgh will alleviate most additional traffic on Morrison. Creighton Manning, a research firm, conducted a traffic study for Omni that supports their position.

The other main concern expressed by residents is that the college students may exhibit bad behavior that causes disruption in the neighborhood. They spoke of the current College Hill Apartments and how the residents there are often disruptive, in their opinion.

Edward Manny, Rensselaer County Legislator who represents the district including Hudson Valley Community College and the surrounding neighborhoods, said that he often sees residents of College Hill taking shortcuts from the Price Chopper complex to their apartments through private property.

Manny, whose house is adjacent to the plaza across the street from Hudson Valley, said College Hill residents sometimes jump the fence into his backyard instead of walking back to Vandenburgh and down Morrison. “They’re a problem,” he said.

But overall, Manny is not opposed to the project. “What’s there is not doing any good for anyone,” he said, referring to the vacant Hy Rosenblum building. “”As long as we can get all those kids to go out the front door, there won’t be a problem.”

Jeff Buell, CEO of Sequence Development, also doesn’t believe disruptive behavior will be a problem. He thinks the site layout will help keep everyone away from the surrounding neighborhoods and that it is a higher quality development than College Hill.

“We’re going to elevate behavior to the point where that property (College Hill) will be bought and redeveloped into something else,” said Buell.

Other issues discussed included trees on the property’s border being big enough to obscure the building’s visibility and making sure that construction vehicles and noise aren’t at disruptive times of the day.

After hearing out the final concerns of the residents, Troy Planning Commission Chairperson Barbara Nelson motioned to approve the site. The motion passed with a four to one vote.

Omni expects to have the development finished and available for students in Fall 2016.


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