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Conifer In The News

On December 2, staff and administrators from all six regional support centers gathered at The Strathallan to honor Conifer staff members for their dedication and commitment.

Awards are given based on merit and nominations. Each of our four recipients were nominated by their peers for their outstanding performance in 2016. There are three Outstanding Performance Awards and one Award of Excellence. This years’ Outstanding Performance Award winners were as follows; Laura Lander, Bookkeeper; Kristen Thompson, District Manager; and Vonnette Harris, Development Director. Their continued commitment to do what they do, better has never wavered. The three Outstanding Performance Award winners have impeccable communication and leadership skills; show professional and personal growth; and have the utmost accountability, vision and values. We honor the value that each of them bring to Conifer.

Paul Marfione, Development Project Coordinator, was awarded the 2016 Award of Excellence. His dedication and quality of work have set the bar for the gold standard. Paul was described by his peers as “an unsung work horse; quietly devoting time and energy in managing jobs.” Since joining the Conifer Development Department, Paul has successfully worked on and completed nine developments, totaling 513 apartment units. Paul encompasses all of Conifer’s values: dedication, honesty, integrity, commitment, innovation, quality and respect.

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Please join us in congratulating Laura, Paul, Kristen and Vonnette! 

Tim Gannon, Staff Writer / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Riverhead News-Review

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"The developers of Peconic Crossing, a 45-unit affordable apartment project proposed for West Main Street in Riverhead, will receive $350,000 from Suffolk County to pay for infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, lighting and drainage.

The Suffolk County Legislature approved the expenditure at its meeting Nov. 23 by a vote of 14 to 2, with two absences.

However, the project did encounter some questions from the two opposing legislators, who cited the cost.

The money comes from the county’s Affordable Housing Opportunities Program, which also provided $313,000 in bonds in 2013 for infrastructure improvements at another affordable apartment building in Riverhead, the 52-unit Summerwind Square on Peconic Avenue.

Peconic Crossing LLC is a joint venture between the nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island and for-profit Conifer Realty LLC of Rochester.

With the county money secured, the $18.5 million project is expected to close on its funding sources by Dec. 15, with demolition of the existing building likely to start in January and construction of the new building planned for February 2017, according to Marianne Garvin, the president and CEO of CDCLI.

The project calls for demolition of the former Long Island Science Center at 11 West Main St. and construction of a four-story multi-family apartment building in its place, according to Ms. Garvin.

“CDCLI and Conifer have developed 710 rental homes over the years,” she told the Legislature before last Wednesday’s vote, referring to other affordable projects the companies have collaborated on.

“These include Wincoram Commons and Copiague Commons, which were supported with the county’s infrastructure program,” Ms. Garvin said. “We could not have built those 266 apartments without your support. Similarly, we cannot build Peconic Crossing without the county’s infrastructure program, and I hope you will support our request for $350,000 to offset improvements such as sidewalks, lighting, drainage, utilities, connections to the sanitary system and bulkhead and boardwalk construction and the like.”

The Peconic Crossing project, according to Ms. Garvin, will provide the following:

• Five apartments for households making up to 50 percent of the area median income, which is $52,550.

• 35 apartments for families making up to 60 percent of the AMI, which amounts to $62,060.

• Five apartments for families making up to 90 percent of the AMI, or $94,590 per year.

Sixteen one-bedroom and 29 two-bedroom apartments are also planned and preference will be given to artists and to residents who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The building will have a fitness room, a community room, an on-site laundry room and an on-site management office, according to Ms. Garvin, and will be Energy Star rated for energy efficiency.

Plans also include a ground-floor artist gallery fronting Main Street and 34 parking spaces in the rear of the property. In addition, Ms. Garvin said, Peconic Crossing will feature a rooftop terrace with views overlooking the Peconic River.

“This is part of a broader plan for downtown Riverhead and it is supported by the town supervisor,” she said.

County legislators Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) and Robert Trotta (R-Northport) cast the two votes against the funding.

Mr. Cilmi said the county needs to come up with a budget for such projects.

“We can’t just look at each project in a vacuum and keep approving $350,000 expenses one after another,” he said.

He also questioned why artists are being given preference.

“I love artists,” Mr. Cilmi said. “I’m just not convinced we should be giving tax breaks and hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the economic climate we’re in, to subsidize that type of housing.”

Arthur Krauer, Conifer’s senior project director on Long Island, said Riverhead Town had asked that artists be given preference.

Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) said the Artspace apartments in his district have helped spur economic activity there that has benefited the entire village.

Mr. Krauer said the U.S. Fair Housing Act doesn’t allow housing projects using federal funds to market to specific areas, such as town residents, but it does allow them to give preference to artists.

Mr. Trotta said the price of $1.85 million that Peconic Crossing paid for the half-acre property is very high.

Mr. Krauer said land is at a premium on Long Island, noting that Conifer is about to pay $11 million for two acres in Hempstead."

Conifer Realty, LLC is happy to announce that Meadow Lark Run and Green Heron Point, brand new apartment communities in Rio Grande and Cape May Court House, had a very successful first summer food program for their residents.

Barbarita Garcia-Clarke, Community Manager of both apartment communities, working closely with our supportive services coordinator, Susan Delanzo from the Center for Family Services, started the program to provide meals for the children at the apartment communities for the summer. Partnering with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Pleasantville allowed this program to be so successful. Breakfast and lunch were provided five days a week from June 20th through September 2nd. The Food Bank delivered fresh meals every day for the 40 children in the program and volunteers chaperoned the children as they enjoyed their meals.

“Together as a nation, we have the obligation to put sunshine in the hearts of our little ones. They are our precious possessions. They deserve what happiness life can offer…” Nelson Mandela.

Mike Pettinella, Staff Writer
The Batavian / 

"Expansion and improvement projects at the Big Tree Glen apartment complex on West Main Street Road, Koolatron on Commerce Drive and Batavia Sports Park on Bank Street Road received "green lights" to move forward Tuesday night (Oct. 18) from the Town of Batavia Planning Board.

At their meeting at Batavia Town Hall, planners gave their blessing to Conifer Realty LLC after reviewing the Rochester company's site plan for Phase II of the income-based complex at 3727 W. Main Street Road. The site plan approval is contingent upon Conifer meeting all engineering criteria and setting up agreements with the Town of Batavia in line with those already in place from Phase I.

According to Paul Marfione, project director for Conifer, Phase II development will consist of 40 apartments (eight one-bedroom and 32 two-bedroom), which would increase the total number of units to 96.

Occupancy eligibility is based on the median income in Genesee County, Marfione said. Of the 40 new units, 10 would be offered to those at 50 percent of the income level, 15 to those at 60 percent and 15 to those at 90 percent.

"The median income in Genesee is increasing," Marfione said, which enables Conifer to offer 15 apartments to those individuals and/or families with annual earnings closer to the county average ($64,500 for a family of four, for example).

Marfione said Conifer is hoping for New York State approvals within a couple months. An early approval from the state could lead to groundbreaking on the $9 milliion Phase II project in the spring of 2017.

Conifer, in partnership with United Memorial Medical Center, completed Phase I this summer.

Before the meeting, Kathy Jasinski, planning board chairperson, and Conifer executives conducted a tour of the facility (photo above). (Watch for more photos and a story in The Batavian on Wednesday)."

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Jennings SusanNEWConifer Realty, LLC is proud to announce that Susan Sturman Jennings, Esq., has been named one of 2016’s Top Counsel from The Daily Record.

The Daily Record’s Attorneys of the Year Awards honors outstanding attorneys through the Leaders in Law and Top Counsel. The Top Counsel Award honors in-house or general counsel who have shown tremendous dedication to the legal profession and selfless, tireless commitment to the community.

Ms. Jennings has acted as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Conifer since 2000. She has been a leader in the legal community for 25 years, offering her expertise in tax credit syndications and loan closings. Prior to joining Conifer, she represented developers, nonprofit organizations and lenders in Federal Housing Administration, Federal National Mortgage Association and conventional financing transactions. She has also advised clients on issues regarding property management, mark-to-market, other HUD subsidy programs and state agency regulations of affordable housing.

“Susan has long been an integral member of our Senior Leadership Team,” said Tim Fournier, Chairman and CEO of Conifer Realty, LLC. “Personally, I could not ask for a more trusted General Counsel and advisor than Susan. Her leadership, ethics, integrity and dedication are some of her greatest strengths which have significantly contributed to the growth and success of Conifer.” He added, “Bottom line: I am privileged to have Susan on my team.”

She is a member of the New York State and District of Columbia bars; has spoken frequently at American Bar Association events, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing Conference and other industry groups on affordable housing issues; is a member of the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership’s Martin Luther King Fund Committee; she is also a member of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law and sits on its Membership Committee.

Tammori Petty / (609) 292-6055
State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs

"Five Projects Recognized at the 2016 Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development

TRENTON – Five projects, located in Burlington, Atlantic, Middlesex, Monmouth and Essex counties, were formally recognized with Excellence in Housing and Economic Development Awards at the 2016 Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development. The annual event, which took place Sept. 19-20, 2016, at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City, is hosted by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). The awards represent some of the best examples of housing revitalization, public-private economic development partnerships, mixed-income development and supportive housing projects across the State.

“The Governor’s Conference is the perfect vehicle to announce these awards and to congratulate each of the outstanding project developers and partner companies that come together to make them a reality.  These projects add character, diversity and appeal to their host communities and generally strengthen the economic vitality of the State.” said DCA Commissioner Charles A. Richman, who is also Chairman of the HMFA Board.

HMFA serves as the state’s affordable housing entity by providing financing for affordable home mortgages and promoting the construction and rehabilitation of rental housing for low- and middle-income and New Jersey residents with special needs. The award-winning projects were placed in service between January 1, 2013 and June 3, 2016.

2016 Excellence in Housing and Economic Development Award Winners 

2016 Housing Revitalization Award (Two Developments)

This award recognizes achievement in an affordable housing revitalization project. Projects must demonstrate the revitalization or redevelopment of distressed or blighted neighborhoods while including an affordable or workforce housing component.  

The Duffy School, located in Florence, Burlington County, involves the historic rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of a 100-year-old historic school in downtown Florence, plus new construction. The school, originally slated for demolition, was able to be rehabilitated and is now listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. The community was built by Conifer Development, in partnership with Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development and comprises 53 units of affordable housing for seniors. 

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Billie Owens, Staff Writer
The Batavian

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"The United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) and Conifer Realty, LLC, joined by local officials and community leaders, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning for a 56-unit apartment community in Batavia. 

Big Tree Glen, located at 3727 W. Main St. Road, offers seven high-quality, two-story buildings featuring one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes for working families earning 60 percent or less of Genesee County’s area median income (“AMI”). Rents range from $569-$916 per month (with a 12-month lease). Apartments range in size from 725 square feet to 1,200 square feet.

James S. Rubin, commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, said, “Big Tree Glen offers families access to one of the highest-performing districts in Western New York, and is in close proximity to jobs, shopping and services. Affordable housing developments like Big Tree Glen provide greater options and opportunities for residents, and make New York a better place to live and work.”

Daniel P. Ireland, BSN, MBA, FACHE, president for UMMC, said, “Rochester Regional Health Memorial Medical Center supports Big Tree Glen affordable housing. Safe, reliable housing is a major component of healthier communities and this initiative aligns with our vision of leading the evolution of health care to enable every member of the communities we serve to enjoy a better, healthier life. We are excited to see this project develop and reach the completion of this phase.”

Tim Fournier, Chairman and CEO of Conifer Realty stated, “Conifer could not accomplish what it has in the affordable housing industry in New York State for the past 40 years without the unwavering support of our state and nonprofit partners, like Rochester Regional’s United Memorial Medical Center.” He added, “Big Tree Glen is evidence that the public-private partnerships and collaborative team efforts yield vital, brand new, affordable homes for so many in Batavia.”

Conifer Realty, LLC, was the developer, the total development costs are in excess of $12 million. Permanent financing sources for the apartment community include a $1,220,000 loan from Community Preservation Corporation; $3,200,000 loan from Bank of America; $382,135 loan from New York State Housing Trust Fund; $7,289,751 Federal Tax Credit Equity from Red Stone Equity Partners; and Bank of America provided a $6,300,000 construction loan.

Conifer is a nationally ranked, full-service real estate company specializing in the development, construction, management and ownership of high-quality, affordable housing communities."

Susan E. Campbell, Staff Writer
Saratoga Business Journal / 

"A 17-acre plot on Route 67 next to East Line Road will soon provide 163 apartments for people working in and around Ballston Spa, according to the developer, Conifer Realty of Rochester, which closed on the purchase of the property on July 1.

The land was purchased from Hal Schultz, a real estate developer who had been working to develop and market the property since 2007.

Brian Donato, project manager at Conifer, said his company paid approximately $2.5 million for the land that will become Blue Heron Trail, a four-phase residential development that may also include about 10,000 square feet of commercial lease space in the final phase.

That's approximately $150,000 per acre and on the low side of market value, Donato said.

"The property was appraised for more," he said. "Things are going for up to $200,000 per acre in the area." 

A good price was only one aspect that made this deal attractive to Conifer. The location is a busy corridor on the north side of Route 67 and a comfortable commute for the growing employment possibilities in the immediate area, including Malta's technology park businesses.

Mike Murphy, Staff Writer
Daily Messenger / 

"Members of the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center are trying to help bring the arts to a local stage

CANANDAIGUA — Gordon Estey’s career in theater started at the old Canandaigua Academy and Junior Academy auditorium where the Fort Hill Apartments now stand.

In fact, Estey, a semi-retired theater manager at the Canandaigua Academy, said a member of the board of directors of a group looking to refurbish the auditorium and stage local performing arts events there met her husband on that very stage while performing in a musical.

“There is a connection there,” Estey said.

And Estey and others are looking to build new ones.

Backers of a plan to refurbish the auditorium soon will be kicking off a fundraising campaign in the hope of raising up to $2 million to help building owner and manager Conifer Realty LLC with the project.

Since receiving a conditional use permit from the City Planning Commission for the project in late 2014, several Canandaigua residents and theater buffs have been working behind the scenes to make the curtains rise on the project.

When done, the new-look auditorium will serve as an anchor location for the performing arts, whether it’s community theater productions, open mic nights, poetry readings, music and dance recitals, or concerts, according to Holger Stave, executive director of the not-for-profit Fort Hill Performing Arts Center.

“This facility will be a lot more affordable and open to anybody who wants to put something on here,” Stave said. “We’re always going to give community-based groups and functions the priority.”

Changes are afoot.

The auditorium sat over 750 people in its heyday, but the plan is to reduce seating to about 500. The old balcony cannot be used as it once was, but the plan is to reopen loge boxes, Stave said.

The lighting and rigging systems will be redone for a fully equipped stage.

The main entry lobby also see a major makeover. So when Stave looks at the entrance to the apartments now, he’s really foreseeing the glitz and glamor of opening night.

“When you walk into the front doors, it will really be mind-blowing,” Stave said.

The main lobby area also will include space for meetings, catered and corporate functions, art shows and exhibits. A lower level will have studio space, offices and sound-isolated rooms for teaching.

Remarkably, the auditorium has held up well over the years, Estey said.

“It has some great bones,” Estey said. “It’s really, really sharp. This will make a really charming theater.”

The hope is for the facility to be a community center for the whole region, Estey said. Now, there just isn’t enough space around to do what the group wants to see happen.

High school stages, including Canandaigua Academy and Finger Lakes Community College’s new stage, are booked solid, Estey said.

For Stave, the interest in the project came from his role as president of the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra, which always seems to be looking for a home.

“Now the hard work starts — looking for the money to get it done,” Stave said. “We’re trying to create a little frenzy here.”

The plan

Here's how the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center is envisioned to work.

Members will be reaching out to regional organizations interested in using the venue either on a regular or rotating basis. Users may reserve space for recurring productions or rehearsals or book occasional events.

The operation will be managed by the organization's board of directors and an on-site executive director. Volunteers also will be recruited and trained professionally to assist in the aspects of running the facility.

For more information, visit"

Kristine Wolf, Publisher
New York Real Estate Journal

"Woodbury, NY The 15th Annual Long Island Smart Growth Awards took place this June at the Crest Hollow Country Club, honoring individuals and organizations and advancing successful downtown initiatives. Over 900 of Long Island’s civic, business, development and government leaders took part in the program for the best in class for 2015-2106. NYS comptroller Tom Dinapoli was the keynote speaker.

Of Long Island’s 100 downtown business districts 60 have revitalization plans and 40 are actively moving projects forward. All told over 12,000 units of transit oriented development housing have been approved over the last ten years along with countless other downtown projects.

Vision Long Island received over 40 deserving nominations and the project and organizational honorees awarded include: Scott Rechler for regional leadership; Hon. Don Barbieri for Walkability in New Hyde Park; Alma Realty Corp & the Village of Valley Stream for a Mixed UseProject in Valley Stream; Conifer Realty & Town of Babylon for Housing Choices in Copiague; Patchogue Chamber of Commerce for “Alive after Five” in Patchogue; Town of Islip & Greenview Properties for a Pedestrian Plaza in Bay Shore; LI Building Trades Council & LI Federation of Labor for Job Development; Lalezarian & Village of Mineola for Mineola Village Green & One Third Ave, two redevelopment projects in Mineola;Beechwood Organization & Village of East Rockaway for Marina Pointe, a waterfront TOD in East Rockaway; Bartone/Terwilliger & Village of Farmingdale for Cornerstone, a TOD in Farmingdale, the Gitto Group & Village of Port Jefferson for the Hills, a TOD in uptown Port Jefferson; and East End Arts and the Westbury Arts Council for creating a Sense of Place by providing arts, music and culture in our downtowns."