University still not using former Interfaith building
Since the Interfaith Center’s official relocation in Fall 2018 the former Interfaith Building remains silent.
Now labeled “Building 511,” the building has seen no student or faculty activity since UAlbany administration moved the three religious groups from their location on the 1.4 acre parcel to the third floor of the Campus Center last year.
The one-story wooden building, tucked neatly into a wooded section to the side of the main campus, formerly housed Catholic Newman Association, Cornerstone Campus Ministries, and the Jewish organization Hillel. Now, the building stands empty and unused.
Richard Thomas, A junior participant of the Catholic Newman Association expressed his disappointment. “The fact that there’s no plan for it makes me upset because, what was the point of shutting it down? I heard multiple rumors, but nothing’s being done,” he said.
UAlbany Spokesperson Jordan Carleo-Evangelist said this is because the university does not yet own the building.
The University at Albany Foundation is in the process of gifting the property to the school, and the New York State Attorney General’s office must approve the transaction.
“The transfer of Building 511 from UAF to the university is ongoing, but it’s just a matter of the typical paperwork associated with property transfers such as these,” said Carleo-Evangelist. “UAlbany does not control this process, but we expect that it will be completed relatively soon.”
James Hyde, member of UAlbany’s Facilities Strategic Planning Council, said there are no updates regarding the building’s future use and has not been a topic of discussion at any of the council’s meeting. The council is responsible for the management and allocation of the university space.
However, Carleo-Evangelist said that the university intends to use the building as temporary office space for employees displaced by renovations occurring around campus, in particular those undergoing in the P.E building.
A previous legal agreement stipulated that the former Interfaith Building be used only by the Albany Collegiate Interfaith Building and its successors. Last January, the Foundation signed a deed in officially releasing them from this condition.
Last year the Chaplains used the 1987 agreement between the Foundation and John Holt-Harris, Jr. in an effort to remain on the property. However, the new deed, signed by the deceased Holt-Harris’ son and the Foundation, frees both parties of this restriction and allows UAlbany to use the building for other purposes.
Until the property officially switches hands, Carleo-Evangelist says the Foundation has allowed the university in the mean time to conduct some maintenance and minor repairs on the inactive building.