MILTON – The Milton Town Board on Wednesday voted 3-2 to place advertisements advising residents that they can apply to be appointed to fill a vacancy on the board. [Read more…]
The Town of Milton Republican Committee is seeking to interview and endorse a Town resident as its recommendation to the Milton Town Board to fill a vacancy created by a recent resignation – term ending December 31, 2017.
Any Town of Milton resident who is a registered Republican 18 years of age or older interested in being endorsed by the Town of Milton Republican Committee for the Town Council position must submit a cover letter of intent along with a resume to Town of Milton Republican Chairman Anna Stanko 32 Kent Street, Ballston Spa NY 12020 and postmarked no later than Friday, February 3, 2016. Interviews and the endorsement will be held on Monday February 6, 2017 at 7:00PM at the VFW Post 358 located at 68 East North Street, Ballston Spa, NY 12020
In a June 6, 2011 letter submitted to the Times Union in response to a Jay Holick blog post, Malta Town Supervisor Paul Sausville spoke of his vision of the town and the direction he thought it was going.
“We have … the very best form of growth that the community can be favored with,” he wrote.
Malta is, and was becoming, “truly the American dream for our residents.”
“However, success brings serious challenges,” he wrote. “Can we bring Malta the right kind of development?”
That particular question is being answered in different ways at every meeting of town government and every citizen’s discussion. It is, by any measure, a work in progress, and development in Malta is still far from where many expected it to be.
There are two good indicators of the status of development in the town: Economically, what is the market for real estate? Visually, what does Malta actually look like?
The real estate market is relatively strong, but uneven. According to statistics provided by Pinnacle Realty in the Malta Business and Professional Association’s April newsletter, there are 99 single family homes on the market, with an average price of about $300,000. Fourteen homes have been sold this year, and houses stay on market for an average of 118 days.
Pinnacle Realty’s Director of Relocations Monica DiSchiano said the market has shifted from a buyer’s to a seller’s market.
“Inventory is low and demand is high for both residential sales and rentals,” DiSchiano said in an email. “There are so few rentals that they often lease out on the first day they are listed.”
In one recent instance DiSchiano rented out a townhome in Luther Forest in a matter of three hours, she said. Yet one aspect of the market’s economics should be driving home sales rather than rentals.
“Rent prices are high, which has many people realizing that it is more affordable to buy than it is to rent,” she said, citing a Trulia statistic which showed it is 30 percent cheaper to buy than rent in the Capital Region.
And because the inventory of listed homes is low, new residents, such as workers at GLOBALFOUNDRIES, often need to look elsewhere. But DiSchiano says homes “aren’t all jumping off the shelf either,” despite the low inventory.
In Luther Forest, there are a number of homes listed, but only the updated, energy-efficient units are selling fast. And there is an important demographic factor affecting the market as well. “Not many people relocating here from other states are interested in townhomes,” DiSchiano said, because most new residents are “mid-level employees with a conservative budget.”
All of this makes for the uneven situation in Malta. On the one hand, many new employees at GLOBALFOUNDRIES and other major local projects are eager to live and work in the community; on the other, there just are not enough affordable options for the kind of workers coming in.
Meanwhile, the town is steadily moving ahead with development. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is of course the main project, and the town board has been hard at work on the process of granting approval for their possible expansion to a second chip foundry, Fab 8.2. Should the second plant actually be built, it would bring thousands more employees to the area. Meanwhile, construction has already begun on the new Technology Development Center adjoining Fab 8.1, and National Grid is building a new four-mile gas pipeline to feed GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ growing energy needs.
Both the Malta town board and the town’s planning board have been regularly approving additions to sub-developments, as with Woodfield Estates, adding residential and commercial space.
But the official focus remains on creating a viable “downtown” for Malta along the Route 9 corridor. Some development along Route 9 is obvious, most especially the looming Ellsworth Commons. However, a drive down Route 9 also reveals something else to the discerning eye: vacant properties.
Beginning at the Malta border with Saratoga Springs, and continuing down to Clifton Park, a visual count of the number of “for rent/lease/sale” signs totals around 40. From the southern border of Round Lake down Route 9 to the Arbor Hill section of Albany, the number comes to approximately 50. So Malta-Round Lake on its own contains nearly half of the vacant or available properties visibly advertising in the entire length of the Route 9 corridor between Saratoga and Albany.
The number of empty lots and spaces is accompanied by a comparatively higher number of empty and decaying buildings. Drive south from Malta’s “downtown” area, and within seconds there is a blighted gas station, an overgrown plaza, and lots strewn with litter, constituting what could reasonably be called “suburban blight,” in place of the more regularly used “urban” term.
DiSchiano told the Journal she wasn’t used to seeing many “rundown buildings” when she moved to the area from Austin, Texas.
“It doesn’t make sense to me why they wouldn’t want to sell off the land to all these developers coming in,” she said.
DiSchiano believes the answer to increasing property values would be to tear down the abandoned buildings and let the developers come in and put up nicer ones in their place.
“They would be easy to fill if offered for lease at a decent price,” she said.
But “nice buildings” like Ellsworth Commons have also fallen victim to the problem of vacancy and Malta’s uneven development. A large percentage of the commercial space at the Commons is virtually empty, while many of its apartments are rented out.
“It isn’t easy to find good commercial space in Malta, it’s very scarce,” DiSchiano said. “I ask people what they think of Ellsworth Commons and they say there’s not enough parking. If they had put parking spaces along the frontage of Route 9, it would have helped them tremendously.”
“Clearly,” she added, “business owners don’t want to rely on just walk-in traffic from Ellsworth residents.”
Nationally, the vacancy rate in commercial properties is expected to reach 15.9 percent by the end of the year, and rents are projected to rise by 2.6 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. For retail, the numbers are forecast to be a 10.6 percent vacancy rate and a 2.3 percent rise in rents. Industrial space should see a 9.5 percent vacancy rate and 2.3 percent rent rise, and the vacancy rate for apartments should hold steady at 3.9 percent (down from 5.2 percent in 2011) with rents going up by 4.3 percent.
DiSchiano explained that while she gets people looking for commercial space weekly, Ellsworth Commons is “too expensive, starting at $18 per square foot, plus triple net,” meaning tenants pay all taxes, insurance, and maintenance fees.
Development, then, is a mixed bag in Malta. Many properties are half-filled or empty even as the need is high, while some decay in neglect. Commercial space is a hard sell in some cases, even though there are more workers spending their money in the community.
In a message to residents posted on his biography page on the town’s website, Supervisor Sausville wrote “Expect to see a continuation of the transformation of Malta from a bedroom community to a real town with a ‘sense of place;’ a sense of community and a real sense of home.”
Until that transformation is complete, Malta residents may have to accept the uneven pace of development which has so far come with it.
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