What’s left of 116 Dana Avenue

I’ve been following the news regarding the new construction projects in the Park South neighborhood.  Apparently if I read the proposal correctly, two city blocks are going to be plowed over to build new parking garages.

One of those areas – the area currently designated as “Phase II” of the construction plans – is currently a vacant lot.

Years earlier, it was a small apartment complex.

I should know.  I lived there for a short time.  116 Dana Avenue, second floor apartment on the right.


I lived on Dana for about a year, from early 1986 to late 1987.  I was two years out of college, newly married and raising two kids – our daughter Cassaundra and my wife’s daughter from her prior relationship.  At the time, I was working close to three jobs to make ends meet, and sleep was a precious commodity that I rarely received.
We eventually moved out of 116 Dana in mid-1987, into a smaller place a block over on Morris Street.  A year later, I divorced my first wife.  Maybe I’ll blog about the reasons, maybe I won’t.

All I will say is that by 1988, the Dana Avenue residence was a fading, blurry memory in my life.

In 1989, the place returned to the news.On November 19, 1989, the Times Union reported that the Dana Avenue apartment complex was the fourth in a series of suspicious arsons in a 24-hour period that permeated the Park South and Mansion neighborhoods.  The arson at 116 Dana displaced several families; the building was a total loss.  The neighborhood would suffer through at least three more arsons, with causes ranging from a squatter burning a fire in a vacant building, to an insurance fraud fire, to a revenge fire between disputing neighbors.

The remnants of 116 Dana Avenue were left to rot and fester for at least another year.  Neighbors signed petitions to get that building, along with the adjacent 114 Dana Avenue, demolished.  Twenty years later, the land where 116 Dana Avenue existed is just a vacant lot.

You’ll pardon me if I don’t really shed a tear for that loss.  My memories of 116 Dana Avenue are bitter at best.  So I’m quite happy that Albany Medical Center is building something on that dirty, hardscrabble plot of land.

It represents a part of my life that I want to scrub completely from my memory.  Believe me, I’ll shed more of a tear for the loss of Quintessence than I would for 116 Dana, where the roaches received better treatment than did the human tenants.

Maybe it’s catharsis.

Or maybe it’s just never wanting to deal with memories of living in a too-small apartment with a pay-your-rent-and-that’s-all-I-want-from-you landlord.