In a booming housing market for sellers with turbulent trends, one Hudson Valley movement remains constant.
The region is filled with incredible, one-of-a-kind historic places, and buildings with rich, storied pasts often find a second life through new developments. Bottling plants become breweries, abandoned zoos become boutique hotels, and old, dilapidated buildings transform into live-work-play communities. Cities like Poughkeepsie and Kingston are experiencing a renewed interest in housing, with the surrounding counties making record sales. The Capital District cities of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy are no different.
In spring 2021, developers converted a former shirt collar factory along the Hudson River into one of Troy’s premier apartment buildings. The Collar Factory Lofts now features one and two-bedroom apartments, fitness centers, and glorious rooftop views of the Hudson. However, this was no ordinary apartment project.
“It was built like a rock with huge wooden timbers and a brick exterior. And it’s one of a few different factories that were along the Hudson River,” Jacob Reckess of PAZ Management, INC. says. In the past, PAZ developed and managed a wide variety of real estate, especially properties with a healthcare or residential focus. Community projects with social value components attract Reckess and his team. “When we took over in 2015, it had been sitting vacant for about 15 years. It was boarded up and kind of forgotten, just waiting for somebody to come in and bring it back to a useful life.”
Searle, Gardner, and Company Cuff and Collar build the brick structure in the 1890s. This site drove the Rensselaer County city’s status as a manufacturing powerhouse for decades. When the company — and many other nearby producers — declined, the stately River St building stood as a symbol of the city itself.
The development team tossed around a few ideas at first for the site, including an assisted living facility. After a few setbacks, they pivoted and partnered with Redburn Development Partners. These real estate developers recently tackled another historic renovation in Troy, The School One Lofts.
“The building’s historic legacy excited us. We worked with the National Park Service to ensure that the renovations honored the building’s history and also highlighted the unique qualities that make the old factory such a cool space,” Reckess says. They broke ground in 2018. Subsequently, Reckess and his team diligently matched the building’s original aesthetic in the restoration. Large, ornate windows bathe every unit in natural light. Similarly, they kept the striking 13-ft ceilings to provide an open feel. In addition, they recaptured energy that’s wasted in most older buildings with a combined heat and power system. This green design provides extra efficiency without compromising any original elements. As a result, The Collar Factory Lofts provide utilities at a lower cost.
Yet that isn’t to say the project lacked obstacles. In 2019, tragedy struck.
“I’ll always remember that day. We were about 80 percent finished with the building. And, I was standing just outside when I got the call,” Reckess says of the moment when someone from inside the building called with the news that a fire broke out. Extreme humidity and heat added to the blaze. Consequently, the team lost everything inside of the brick walls, and its progress. “We started all over again. Thankfully, most of the structure was intact. But, that fire devastated us.”
Ultimately, the team pushed onward. Its passion for North-Central Troy fueled a desire to complete The Collar Factory Lofts. Above all, Reckess cites support from the city and the rest of the community as one of his biggest inspirations. Flame-singed damage granted the team an opportunity to improve some of the designs. The group upgraded many amenities and design elements, such as new flooring and bathroom tiles. Finally, in May 2021, the development team brought the apartments online.
The Collar Factory Lofts boasts 77 one- and two-bedroom apartments with a variety of floor plans. The largest two-bedroom units include a den and max out at 1,225 sq ft of space. Smaller one-bedroom lofts listed for as low as $985 per month. In addition, the team offers an “all-in” living package to consolidate utilities, Wi-Fi, and other services into one low fee. As a result, Troy joins the conversation for hip Hudson Valley cities with affordable workforce housing.
“This is a passion project. We combined an existing historic building using historic tax credits and the restore grant from the Empire State Development. In pulling together a lot of resources from great organizations, we deliver a high quality building that people can afford to live in,” Reckess says.
Nestled in Troy’s “factory district,” The Collar Factory Lofts building presents the perfect home base to explore the upper Hudson Valley. Classic breweries and eclectic eateries are just a short stroll away. From the building, residents and guests alike can gaze out at the Hudson River and spot Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on its hilltop. The River St structure overlooks the river’s first lock, meaning one could take a boat directly from New York City back home. As new businesses emerge and the revitalization of downtown strengthens, Reckess sees no better time to join the community of Troy.
“In the past five years, the resurgence is visible. All of the buildings on the street have been taken over and are either under construction or finishing construction. There is a new energy in the area, and it still has a downtown, lively feel,” Reckess says. “So it’s a part of downtown that’s on the rise and, each day you go, you can feel the energy of new growth happening. It’s really exciting.”