ALBANY- Albany Community Land Trust unveiled its latest makeover on Thursday, the last of more than 110 the organization has completed since 1987.

The home at 444 Elk St. in the city’s West Hill neighborhood was nearly destroyed by fire and water damage in September 2021. Afterwards, a crew led by contractor Tony Chinsammy gutted the home and architects Laura Ryder and Beth Steckley of TAP, Inc. redesigned the exterior to create a better layout and first-floor bedroom.

The refugee reception center will select a family to rent the four-bedroom, two-bathroom house. To qualify, the family must earn 80% or less of the area’s median income, which for Albany County is $106,000.

Every home renovation has things in common—trash removal, roof repairs, demolition, new drywall to install, and painting to do—but 444 Elk St. had one particularity. It shared a wall with the house next door, which the land trust wanted to change as the organization does not own the other house. Chinsammy, a longtime land trust contractor, said he was unimpressed with the house severance work.

“I know what’s under the surface, what’s under the skin of the house,” said Chinsammy, who got his start in construction in his native Guyana, where concrete construction is current.

Creating livable space also meant structural repairs, he said.

This is the land trust’s first all-electric home. It is equipped with a heat pump system for heating and air conditioning, cellulose insulation on the upper floors and rigid panel insulation in the basement. Chinsammy reused parts where he could – the original newel post and stairs remain in the late 1800s house along with the interior and exterior doors.

Valerie Alexander-Moseley, chair of the land trust’s board and a member since 1989, was among those who visited the home on Thursday. Thirty years ago, the land trust only had the money to bring homes up to standard and renovate a kitchen or bathroom here and there, Alexander-Moseley said. Today, with more generous funding from various sources, home rehabilitation centers are more common.

“The people who work in these houses want to impress me,” she said. “When it comes to choosing finishes and appliances, they put themselves in the position as if they were the ones living in the house, and I like that.”

This is the second house on Elk Street that the land trust has rebuilt. Susan Cotner, Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Partnership Home Ownership Center and program manager for the land trust, said she hopes the trust will buy and rebuild more homes on the street. The goal isn’t to make a house here and there, Cotner said, but to make whole blocks. Significant investment increases property values, and higher values ​​attract private investment. Cotner saw this happen on Third Street in Albany and hopes the same will happen on Elk Street.