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Conifer In The News

Employees from Conifer’s regional support centers gathered last month to honor five of their teammates at the annual Holiday Celebration.

Each year, regional support center employees have the opportunity to nominate fellow employees within the organization for their outstanding performance. There are four Outstanding Performance Award winners and one Emerald Award of Excellence winner. This years’ award winners were as follows; Outstanding Performance Awards were given to Kevin Wehner, Maintenance Superintendent, Ralph Taft, Maintenance Technician, Jennifer Linton, Finance Coordinator and Janis McMindes, Financial Analyst as their continued commitment to do what they do better has never wavered. Their dedication has allowed Conifer to prosper.

conifer holiday 2015 155 Copy

left to right: Ralph Taft, Janis McMindes, Jennifer Linton, Brenda Marshall, Kevin Wehner

Brenda Marshall, Senior Compliance Specialist, is the 2015 recipient of the Emerald Award of Excellence. Her continued effort to do what we do, better has greatly improved the functionality of our Compliance and Administration Department. She is described by colleagues as “a team player who is always willing to help others accomplish their goals while being able to still excel in her own avenue.” Brenda encompasses all of Conifer’s values: dedication, honesty, integrity, commitment, innovation, quality and respect.

Patrick J. Flanigan
City of Rochester

"(Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016) - Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced today that the public art component of the Erie Harbor Enhancement Project is complete with the installation of five new sculptures near the Erie Harbor apartments between the Genesee River and Mount Hope Avenue.

"The Erie Harbor Enhancement Project has played a major role in opening the Genesee River to Rochester's South Wedge Neighborhood, resulting in a tremendous rise in property values and increased investment across Southeast Rochester" said Mayor Warren. "This project underscores how investments in our quality of life help us create more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods and provide all our children with a quality education. These new sculptures provide the finishing touches on a new landscape that is making our city even more beautiful."

The five sculptures are a colorful porcelain mosaic titled "Erie Harbor Bird," by artists Jill Gussow; and four nautical themed steel and stone spheres by artists Pietro Furguiele and Patrick Doyle titled "Hope Buoy," "Wedge Buoy," "Wave Buoy" and "Anchor Buoy."

The sculptures are situated to be   visible from the Mount Hope Avenue sidewalk, public walkways between the Erie Harbor Apartments and the Genesee Riverway Trail.

The art was selected through an open art competition to enhance public enjoyment of the area. The cost of the public art was $172,000, which was partially funded by a grant from the New York State Department of State, with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund.

Performed in conjunction with the private development of the Erie Harbor Apartments by Conifer Realty, the Erie Harbor Enhancement Project has improved the public space adjacent to the apartment buildings by creating open sightlines and public access between the Genesee River and Mount Hope Avenue immediately north of Ford Street.


News Media: For more information, contact Press Officer Jessica Alaimo at 428-7135."



Jennifer Miglioratti, LeChase Construction

"ROCHESTER, N.Y., January 6, 2016—LeChase Construction Services, LLC is pleased to announce the promotion of Brian J. Russo to vice president of Conifer-LeChase Construction, based in Rochester.

As vice president, Russo will oversee project procedures—including team management and coordination with clients, consultants and subcontractors—to ensure successful completion. In addition he will continue to lead several internal initiatives aimed at new programs and improved processes.

“Brian has continued to emerge as a strong leader with clients and employees,” says LeChase President, William L. Mack. “I am confident he will carry on playing an integral role in the future growth and success of our organization.”

Russo joined the company in 2011 and has been an operations manager since 2013. Before his role with the company, he held various positions within the construction industry, including chief estimator at Elaine Construction, as well as previous roles as a project engineer and cost estimator for MOCA Systems.

Russo is a member of the American Society of Professional Estimators, co-chairman of Villa of Hope’s annual charity golf tournament and a former participant of Boston’s Future Leaders Program, a top professional platform for emerging business executives. He has also completed the AGC NYS Future Construction Leaders program designed to develop industry leaders and provide hands-on experience related to issues in managing a construction business.

He attended Pennsylvania State University, earning a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also earned LEED® Accredited Professional accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). He resides in Canandaigua, NY with his wife, Machelle and their children, Isabella and John.

About LeChase Construction Services, LLC
LeChase Construction ( is a full-service construction management and general construction firm with extensive experience in many industry sectors. Since 1944, the consistent stability and growth of LeChase Construction have stemmed from the dedication, interest and hard work of the entire organization allowing LeChase a broad reach of services and the ability to provide local delivery. The over 70-year-old firm is well recognized for its commitment to quality, innovation and safety.

Having completed projects throughout the U.S., as well as having project experience in Canada, Brazil and the U.K., LeChase is willing and able to travel for unique opportunities. With strategic alliances located throughout the country, mobile job teams and operational support in several states, we can dedicate the right resources to your specific project needs no matter where it is located. Widely recognized as one of the area’s top contractors, LeChase’s annual revenues exceed nearly $700 million in building construction."

At Conifer, we believe in promoting from within. We hire the best and brightest who strive to achieve new goals. It is with great pleasure that we announce the promotions of three exceptional, hard-working employees, Teresa Rudd, Kim Beaumont and Brandi Johnson, effective January, 2016.


Teresa Rudd’s promotion to Risk Manager is a well-deserved and great step forward in her career at Conifer.  Teresa has been with Conifer for over seven years bringing expertise in casualty claims handling, loss analysis/reports and control as well as managing insurance portfolios. She has excelled in placing insurance on new properties and interfacing with various agencies, lenders and investors to provide evidence of insurance. As Risk Manager, Teresa will assume a greater leadership role and expand her area of responsibility. Her energy, dedication, experience, knowledge and drive make her the perfect candidate to take on this position.

Kim Beaumont has been promoted to Senior Paralegal.  Kim has become an indispensable part of the legal team at Conifer since joining in 2013 as a Paralegal. Kim’s area of expertise prior to joining Conifer was in negotiating and drafting commercial retail leases, office leases and all ancillary documents as well as residential real estate closings and foreclosures. In addition to her other responsibilities at Conifer, Kim independently manages the limited partner transfers, the due diligence for refinancing transactions, has undertaken many research projects and is mastering survey review. Kim will take on a more substantive role in each of these areas in her new position.


Brandi Johnson has been promoted to Accounts Payable Supervisor. Brandi has been a dedicated professional to the Accounts Payable Team since joining Conifer 2013 as Accounts Payable Specialist. In her new role, Brandi will provide guidance and supervision to the Accounts Payable Team, function as System Administrator for outsourced portions of the accounts payable system as well as the utility program, oversee credit applications, corporate accounts, closing procedures for accounts payable and printing checks. We are confident in Brandi’s commitment to her new position and her continued contribution to the team. 

Alana Semuels, Staff Writer
The Atlantic / 

"HOWELL, N.J.—The comments started online shortly after this middle-class Republican stronghold in central New Jersey filed a plan to rezone a wooded area to enable the construction of 72 affordable housing units.

There were the usual range of complaints: that the affordable housing would create more traffic, put additional stress on its aging infrastructure, and bring an undesirable element to town.

But, in this case, that undesirable element wasn’t the usual target of affordable-housing opponents: “We do not need this ... This means we are going to have more Jewish families milking the system,” one woman wrote on the Facebook page of Howell Happenings NJ.

“I moved to Howell 15 years ago to get away from garbage. Now the garbage is getting dumped on top of me,” another man wrote. This comment received four likes on the Howell Happenings NJ Facebook page.

There were dozens of others, from Howell residents fearing that a community of Hasidic Jews living in nearby Lakewood, New Jersey, would “take over” Howell, that the new affordable housing units would drag down property values and deplete the town’s coffers.

“Time to sell and get the heck out of here!” another woman wrote.

Affluent, mostly white communities often oppose affordable housing because their residents fear the changes that they believe an influx of black, Latino, or lower-income white residents would bring. There’s also a fairness argument—homeowners had to scrimp and save to buy in that area, they say, and now poor people just get to move there on the cheap? The complaint that affordable housing will bring Jews to a neighborhood is far less common, but in the same vein as these other, more typical, arguments. A vocal group of Howell residents wanted their town to stay just as it was, and they targeted the group that they believed threatened that.

Mayor William Gotto, a Republican, saw the Facebook comments and responded with an open letter to the town, cautioning residents against believing everything they read on social media, and encouraging them to attend council and zoning-board meetings to get the facts. The facts were that because of a March New Jersey Supreme Court ruling, most towns in the state, including Howell, are on the hook to build hundreds of units of affordable housing or face costly lawsuits. That put Gotto in a tough position—listen to his constituents and try to block the housing, or listen to the law.

In 1983, after more than a decade of legal battles, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a decision in a case that is sometimes called the most significant civil-rights case in the nation since Brown v. Board of Education. In the Mount Laurelcase, the court ruled that every town in New Jersey has to provide its “fair share” of housing for low- and moderate-income people. Municipalities that didn’t follow this ruling would face lawsuits. The New Jersey legislature codified this into law in 1985, passing the Fair Housing Act. The law created the Council on Affordable Housing, or COAH, whose job it was to release rules every 10 years or so laying out the requirements for each town to build a certain number of affordable units. COAH approved towns’ plans to build affordable housing; if towns didn’t file such plans, or their plans were not approved, they faced the specter of lawsuits from builders, which they usually lost.

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Erica Bauwens, Michelle Boyles, Matt Cosentino, Josephine Cusumano and Liz Hunter, Staff Writers
South Jersey Biz / 

"South Jersey’s business community is a multifaceted landscape composed of industries of all types. But it’s the people working behind the scenes who are often responsible for the projects and initiatives that are driving the economy forward. Our 2015 Executives of the Year (comprised of nominations and editorial selections) are truly making an impact. Their stories are as varied as the community itself. Whether they’ve been in the field for a few years or a few decades, they’ve all been inspired to work hard within their organizations to make a difference and continue to improve the local business climate."

Senior Vice President of Development, Conifer, N.J. and Pa. 

Charles M. Lewis got his start as a lawyer for the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation before becoming senior vice president of Pennrose Properties out of Philadelphia. He joined Conifer in 2007, and has since been the driving force behind projects that have been awarded the New Jersey Governor’s Excellence in Housing Award, the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Award and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Quality Award, among others.

How did you first start in the industry? 
I was working for the city as a lawyer and I wanted to get back into the private sector, and the development side seemed a lot more exciting. As an attorney you live with the deal at closing, but there’s so much more happening in development. 
How many years have you been working in the field? 
Thirty-two years 
What inspires you? 
A lot of it is my colleagues. I work with a lot of bright, energetic, young people. They keep me on my toes and ask me some really fascinating questions. I feel a certain responsibility and I love to see them grow."

Read the full article here:
outh Jersey Biz, Volumer 5, Issue 11 (November 2015)

Nancy Lavin, Staff Writer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Frederick News Post

" The city of Frederick is putting its money where its mouth is on affordable housing.

City elected officials on Thursday approved $300,000 in deferred loans for two projects that will provide 71 new affordable housing rental units for the city. The Board of Aldermen’s unanimous vote allows the transfer of $100,000 to Way Station Inc. and $200,000 to Sinclair Way through the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit program.

A 2008 ordinance requires developers building 25 or more homes in the city to set aside 12.5 percent of those dwellings as moderately priced homes. Alternatively, developers can pay a fee instead of building the MPDUs, equivalent to $16,100 for each affordable home required but not included in the project.

Clarifying goals

Mike Spurrier, director of Frederick Community Action Agency, praised the financial support as the next step toward meeting the “desperate” need for affordable rental housing in the city.

“It’s great it’s moving forward,” he said. “There has been a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through [to get here].”

For several aldermen, the discussion highlighted the need to create a city affordable housing policy. Various countywide organizations have their own strategic plans, but the city has no broad-scale equivalent.

Alderman Josh Bokee said a guiding document with a set of principal goals would help clarify the purpose of individual programs like the MPDU ordinance.

“The city needs a broader affordable housing policy ... that we up here are able to reference and identify,” he said.

Alderman Michael O’Connor agreed. He referred to recent discussion of the city’s fee-in-lieu programs for parkland and school mitigation fees. Both of those policies fall within the city’s land management code, which outlines major principles and goals for planning and development.

“In a poverty-elimination context, we don’t have that same kind of overriding strategy document,” O’Connor said.

Until then, progress on several projects that meet those yet-to-be outlined goals can continue under the latest ordinance changes and loan transfers.

Project details

The approved loan funding to the Way Station and Sinclair Way completes small but crucial pieces of the funding puzzle for each.

The Way Station contribution supports the $1.3 million project to help the nonprofit acquire and transform eight South Jefferson Street apartment units as special needs housing.

The loan to developer Conifer Realty for its Sinclair Way project, meanwhile, will work in tandem with changes to the MPDU ordinance approved in a separate vote Thursday to move the project forward.

The $20 million project to bring a seven-building apartment complex of primarily workforce housing to the city is funded through a variety of public and private sources — low-income tax credits from the Internal Revenue Service, state cash flow loans and private first mortgage payments. Several of those other loans and credits attach conditions to the project, some of which conflicted with the city requirements outlined in the existing ordinance.

“The city code assumes the city is the only income-regulations body for developers ... but that’s not the case here,” said Jessica Zumiga, president of Conifer Realty.

The approved changes let the aldermen grant modifications to its MPDU ordinance requirements on a case-by-case basis to better accommodate the conditions of other funding sources.

The votes trigger the next steps for the 71-unit project slated for 1.9 acres between West South and West Patrick streets. Project plans already received approval from the Planning and Historic Preservation Commissions. The Board of Aldermen is set to approve the MPDU agreement at its next public hearing on Dec. 3.

Construction will start as early as next month, Zumiga said.

“I certainly think it will increase the production of MPDUs in the city,” she said."

Amy Works, Staff Writer

1 East Main Street Exterior

"ROCHESTER, N.Y. — First Niagara Financial Group Inc. has provided a $6.4 million construction loan to Conifer Realty LLC for the development of Market Apartments at Corpus Christi. Located on East Main Street in Rochester’s Market neighborhood, the affordable housing development, which is tailored for local artists, will feature 42 energy-efficient apartments, including one- and two-bedroom units; art studio and work space; and plans to add a rehearsal space for musicians in a neighboring building. Additionally, the property is located within walking distance to public transportation and retailers. Conifer-LeChase Construction, a partnership between Conifer and LeChase Construction Services, is serving as general contractor for the project."


The affordable housing community features 42 one- and
two-bedroom apartment units and art studio and work space.

Andy Polhamus, Staff Writer

"CLAYTON - The borough has been awarded $1.7 million in tax credits for low-income veteran housing, the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced.

"Veterans deserve our support and assistance, especially if they are dealing with mental or physical disabilities," said Freeholder Director Bob Damminger. "The men and women who served our country in uniform deserve our help and support."

The money is to be used to support the construction of 76 housing units, a quarter of which are reserved for disabled veterans. A press release from the board noted that veterans will also receive preference for placement in the remaining 75 percent of the development.

"This housing will be extremely important to the families who will now have homes to live in that they can afford," said state Senate President Steve Sweeney. "The emphasis on veterans, especially those with disabilities, is the right thing to do. The funding is also helpful to the entire community because it helps remove any financial responsibility from the county and towns in the area."

The housing project, which builders plan to put up at 865 Delsea Drive, is a joint venture between the People for People Foundation and Conifer Realty. The funding comes in the form of federal tax breaks awarded by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Known as the the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, the program is intended to spur private development of affordable housing projects.

"We believe in our veterans and we believe in providing them with access to safe and secure affordable housing options,"  said Bernadette Blackstock of the People for People Foundation.

The development consists of 14 one-bedroom apartments, 40 two-bedroom units, and 22 three-bedroom units. Another five will be set aside for residents of Gloucester County who are currently homeless.

Builders said last spring that the project would cost a total of $20 million, and feature a computer lab and small community space. As of April, Conifer planned to have building done by the end of 2016."

Kim Mulford, Staff Writer
Courier-Post, A Gannett Company

Clayton Elevations"CLAYTON – An affordable housing development intended primarily for veterans just moved closer to reality, thanks to $1.7 million in federal tax credits awarded by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

The money will cover about 70 percent of the construction costs for Camp Salute, a 76-unit project conceived by People for People Foundation, a Gloucester County nonprofit established in 2003 to help struggling households.

Allan Connors of Pitman, a Vietnam veteran and People for People volunteer, came up with the idea.

“Camp Salute is a substantive bricks-and-mortar way to salute veterans by doing something,” said Connors, 68. “What’s more substantial than quality housing?”

The project will be developed by Conifer Realty, which bought more than 50 acres of land behind Clayton Mews on Delsea Drive. Much of the property will remain undeveloped.

About 25 percent of the rental units will be fully accessible and reserved for veterans with physical or mental disabilities. Five units will be set aside for homeless veterans. The rest will be available for low- to moderate-income residents, with preference given to veterans, veterans’ widows, families, and Gold Star parents. Each one-, two- and three-bedroom unit will include a patio or balcony.

A community center will include a gym, computer lab, meeting space and offices for People for People, which will offer supportive services for tenants.

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