Utica, NY (WIBX) - Utica Municipal Housing Authority, in partnership with The Genesis Group, is undertaking a project to restore housing stock in Utica and Rome. The goal is to build a Habitat for Humanity store to sell salvageable building materials taken from a site before it's completely demolished.

Dr. Taras Herboway, head of the Housing Authority said, "There is housing stock in both communities as David the consultant mentioned, and we'll be identifying that housing stock that can be used, or where upon we can begin to deconstruct and develop our store." David Bennink, Owner, Re-Use Consulting, addressed the group meeting this morning at Mohawk Valley Community College. He says his idea to salvage building material and resell them got off the ground in Bellingham, Washington twenty years ago.

Bennink says he volunteered to visit the area yesterday for a 5-hour tour in Utica and Rome to share his successful business practices with the group. He said, "I started two, what ended up being two stores, that were non-profits and they sold used building materials. We diverted the materials from a landfill, and then we provided the materials to people that needed them. When we got big and we got successful, people started paying attention and asking for help, and that's why I decided to be that non-profit and become a traveling consultant."

He says the service he provides shortens the learning curve for those looking to improve their local economy through the housing stock. "You don't have to guess, I can show you examples of how this worked, or what this cost or how much time it took ... here's a technique for taking that building down, these are the things that I do," he said during his presentation.

Bennink says his business model also creates sustainable jobs and has been implemented in 42 states.  "For every one demolition worker, it takes 25 deconstruction workers to keep up. So, we create about 25-times more jobs than demolition." He says the practice of deconstruction is not a new concept. "The very first buildings that were built thousands of years ago, they were deconstructed. Nobody was crazy enough to demolish a building and waste all the materials," he said.

Ray Durso, Jr., Executive Director, The Genesis Group says it's a worthy project. "It's a great project and it's evolving, we're all learning and we're very fortunate to have a national consultant here today with us to tell us how the process began with him 20-years ago. He told us that we're on the right path and certainly it's a work in progress for all of us to keep it going," he said. Herboway says it started with developing a business plan and today's meeting is another positive step toward achieving the Regional Deconstruction Program's goal. The group is still forming, but so far involves the following business and government groups:

  • City of Utica
  • City of Rome
  • Oneida & Herkimer Counties Solid Waste Authority
  • Utica Municipal Housing Authority/Rebuild Mohawk Valley
  • Oneida County Habitat for Humanities
  • Landmarks Society of Greater Utica
  • The Genesis Group
Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX