So, looking at the planning board agenda for the city this month, most of the projects under review have already been covered in previous entries. But there appears to be a new entry, and it’s based on College Avenue. 140 College Avenue, to be exact. The owners, Po Family Realty, seek to add a 3800 sq ft, three-story apartment addition onto the south side of the building. Which, in most cases, wouldn’t be a tremendous deal.
Except 140 College Avenue is considered untouchable by the local preservationists, and I can’t blame them for that opinion either. As a matter of fact, I might even agree for once in a blue moon.
You see, 140 College Avenue is the John Snaith House. Although the name may not sound familiar, its appearance certainly will. It’s the red brick house on the corner of College and Cook Street with the wrought iron fence and mansard roof. It made an appearance on the recommended Collegetown structures for historical designation document released a couple years ago.According to the PDF, the house was built by and for John Snaith, a contractor, in 1874. He relocated to Albany in 1887, and the house was badly damaged and rebuilt following a structural fire in 1894.
The issue I have with this project isn’t so much the project itself, which I do think is a bit unnecessary consider the benefits of such a small project are small. It’s more to do with the fact that the Snaith House is a well-recognized historic building. I’m concerned that if it somehow got approved (which, considering one of the writers of the historic buildings document is also chairman of the Planning Board, I find unlikely), it would galvanize the local NIMBYs who would point to that project as an example of the dangers of development, and use it to try and dissuade later projects.
I’m still surprised the owners of 140 College Avenue would even propose this project. I don’t normally turn up my nose at development, especially in Collegetown, but this proposal stinks.