Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Matt & Mike's Halloween Party!

Yes, that's Oksana "The Swan" Baiul -- look carefully in the other photos to see her handy carrying-case for her bottle of vodka ...

Matt "Burrito Boy" Baumgartner & Mike Vinci sure know how to throw a party.

With hundreds of costumed revelers at the Washington Park Lakehouse, they brought in $4,385 for Committee 150! We have now raised more than $70,000 for the stabilization of the former St. Joseph's Church.

Next time you go to Bomber's or Noche, be sure to say "THANKS" to Matt for his support of Committee 150!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Winner's Choice Raffle Dinner

rich_dinner 022
click the plate for photos ...
Doesn't this look yummy? Baked salmon with sweet potato puree, wilted arugula and israeli couscous? And all for the low, low price of $10!
Chefs and hosts Frances & Mike and Steph & Tom sold $10 tickets all summer long for a "Winner's Choice Raffle" -- and raised more than $2,500 towards the stabilization of the former St. Joseph's Church. The winner was a member of the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph (ironically enough) who bought a chance at an open house at the church, but she declined the party.
Back to the drawing board they went (or back into the fishbowl, as it were) and lo and behold -- the winner was Rich Nagengast!
Rich chose dinner for eight at his hosts' lovely Center Square residence, and feasted on appetizers including baked brie with sundried tomatoes, shrimp cocktail, and encrusted tortellini; followed by a cream of broccoli soup. The salad course was a mixture of field greens with pears and crumbled cheese, and the main course is described above.
Since Mark's birthday is on the 30th, the dessert was a birthday cake!
Happy Birthday, Mark ~ Congratulations, Rich ~ and thanks to Albany's "Cooking Quartet" for a great fundraising event!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Open House at 329 State Street

Open House Celebrates Major Rehab of 1889 Bleeker Banks House
Rehab of unique mansion a Renaissance after a troubled past

The McLaughlin Group hosted an Open House to celebrate the final stages of the firm’s rehab of the historic 1889 Bleeker Banks House at 329 State St. in Albany. The event, on October 24th at 5:30 pm, was open to the public.

The event raised $2,400 to benefit Committee 150, a citizens’ campaign to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the former St. Joseph’s Church, and to raise $150,000 to continue stabilization work on the once-endangered building.

The 10,000 square foot Bleecker Banks House is being transformed by The McLaughlin Group into eleven luxurious apartments consisting of studios, one and two bedroom units for lease.

The McLaughlin’s are melding 19th century details along with 21st century amenities. Fireplace mantles have been stripped down to their original splendor and will be retrofitted for electric use. Antiques Fairs, the Historic Albany Foundation Parts Warehouse and antiques stores have been scoured to find period stained glass windows, lighting fixtures and other items dating from the 1880’s. New hardwood floors will replace floors damaged by water leaks and neglect.

Modern amenities include stainless steel appliances, recessed lighting, tiled bathrooms, gas heat, central air, an exercise room, laundry facilities, individual storage areas and private outdoor space for four units.

Millis McLaughlin, Principal of the McLaughlin Group, said “the house was most recently a 19-unit apartment building that was shut down by the city for a number of code violations and was vacant for several years. Significant damage occurred to the structure due to roof leaks and frozen pipes. The building’s past grandeur was long gone. Many original and beautiful details such as the ballroom ceiling and fireplaces hidden behind drywall were discovered during the demolition. We saw a diamond in the rough and decided to take a chance on essentially rebuilding the structure’s interior, to save the building from slow death. Our hope is that this will be a major improvement for the neighborhood and the community.”

Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings said, “the new Re-Capitalize Albany Committee has as a goal the revitalization of city neighborhoods, and this project exemplifies the kind of commitment we need to both attract new residents and continue to enhance neighborhoods. We’re delighted that the McLaughlin Group has made this significant investment and hope it will inspire others to invest in similar ways in our city.”

For more information about the property, call 518-433-1100.

The McLaughlin Group is a family-run enterprise founded by Bill McLaughlin, a State Street resident since 1977. Throughout the last three decades, McLaughlin has renovated over 90 buildings in the Albany area. The firm currently owns and professionally manages apartment buildings in downtown Albany. The McLaughlin Group is committed to preserving the historic fabric of its properties and the local neighborhoods.

History of the Bleeker Banks House

Twice Democratic mayor of Albany, A. Bleecker Banks commissioned this interesting Romanesque Revival double house in 1889 for his daughter, Harriet, and son-in-law, William Lawrence Green. Banks owned the brownstone row next door as well as a house on this lot, so the 1889 work may have represented alterations to the earlier structure. This irregular front façade of rusticated stone links the 1870s row on the right to the 1888-89 Goodwin house on the left. The wrought-iron work adds to the fluidity of the front façade; there is a billowing balcony, and the distinctive latticework is transformed into a bench by the front door. The initials CB can be seen in the gable. The Greens lived here through 1909. In the subsequent decades the building suffered the fate of many old buildings in Albany as it was repeatedly subdivided into smaller and smaller apartments.

As the McLaughlin Group project team began removing the non-bearing walls, plumbing, and kitchen and bath fixtures added to the building to create 19 apartments over the last 50 years, they discovered severe structural problems. Adding steel girders and new floor joists throughout the building raised the level of the 3rd floor by almost 5 inches. The project thus incurred significant cost overruns as the extent of the required rehab became clear.

A real gem discovered during the demolition process was the 13 ‘ high paneled ceiling in the second floor rear ballroom. There was originally no insulation between the ceiling and the roof so the ceiling had been lowered twice, covering the ceiling as well as the upper portion of the beautiful bay window. This large room had been converted to a 2-bedroom apartment and a studio. In the renovated structure the Ballroom is a single apartment of 825 sq. ft. and privacy walls are built at a lower height to preserve the ceiling.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Open House at Restored Mansion - 10/24

Glory returns to a venerable home
Public is invited to tour restored mansion built by former Albany mayor

By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

ALBANY -- A 19th-century mansion commissioned for the daughter of a former city mayor was a roach-infested mess when Millis McLaughlin first saw it in 2001. A few months earlier, the city closed it as a dangerous nuisance after finding the landlord rigged dangerous wiring to steal electricity.

It's come a long way since. Now, McLaughlin, whose real estate firm bought it at a tax foreclosure, has even installed her great-grandparents' carved Victorian mantel as part of renovation she will only describe as in excess of $1.5 million.

The doors to 329 State St. will be thrown open to anyone who wants to look inside on Oct. 24 for a small fee to help Committee 150, which is raising cash to help fix up the former St. Joseph's Church in Arbor Hill.

For McLaughlin, the transformation of the building has been a rewarding ordeal. There was opposition from the local neighborhood association, which unsuccessfully sued to return the building to its original two-family status.

That's the way it was in 1889, when A. Bleecker Banks, who had served twice as mayor, decided to have a fine home in the Romanesque Revival style commissioned for his daughter, Harriet, and son-in-law, William Green.

When McLaughlin bought the building in 2001, its glory days were long gone -- there were 19 tiny, decrepit apartments crammed into the 10,000-square-foot building.

Leaks from frozen pipes and holes in the roof had damaged the original hardwood floors beyond repair. Because of rot, the third floor had sunk five inches and had to be raised using steel girders.

Now, there are 11 units, ranging in size from a 500-square-foot studio to a 1,250-square-foot, two-bedroom penthouse with its own roof deck. "It took us almost a year just to finish the demolition," McLaughlin said.

But some long-hidden gems emerged. Like a ballroom with 13-foot ceilings on the second floor, which has been chopped into several apartments. It is now a single apartment, with lower "privacy walls" to show off the ornate ceiling.

"We also found complete fireplaces that had been Sheetrocked over," McLaughlin said.

A member of the board of the Historic Albany Foundation, which advocates for protection of the city's architectural heritage, she also searched for some antique touches to install, like stained glass windows and light fixtures from the foundation's parts warehouse. "The Round Lake antiques fair also was a real treasure trove for me," she said.

The project has gotten kudos from Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. "This project exemplifies the kind of commitment we need to both attract new residents and continue to enhance neighborhoods," he said. "We hope it will inspire others to invest in similar ways in our city."

More information about the open house is available by calling The McLaughlin Group at 433-1100. The firm was founded by Bill McLaughlin, a State Street resident, and has renovated more than 90 buildings in the Capital Region.

Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or by e-mail at bnearing@timesunion.com.