Chalmers Lofts — A Bold Play by Uri Kaufman in Amsterdam, NY

I attended the April 15th Common Council meeting at Amsterdam City Hall to listen to Uri Kaufman’s presentation on revitalizing the former Chalmers complex on the city’s South Side. Kaufman’s plan sees developing the abandoned Chalmer’s complex into condos with the expectation that this area will see some growth.

I’m intrigued by the plan as it is quite gutsy and directly challenges the assumption that Amsterdam faces nothing but decline so we need to bring in “industries” to turn the city around. I think Mr Kaufman flips the argument perfectly– if you can design and build so people will move to Amsterdam, they very likely will foster some job creation.

While his plan carries some risks, I think it’s a play worth considering. I think the most important element of the plan is that it brings a private party (albeit funded with significant public monies) to the project. I view his presentation and interest as a strong signal of a market for Amsterdam as a bedroom community. He’s not looking to build a restaurant; or revive manufacturing; or anything related to “industries”. Instead, it’s directly focused on housing.

As it’s related to housing, this project also brings into play factors that effect housing: schools, livability, cost-of-living and quality of life. And it’s for this reason– the importance of a viable real estate market– that create a certain angst as these factors are seldom considered by a large portion of the community.

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