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Conifer In The News

"Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced today that the City of Rochester and the Rochester Coalition for Neighborhood Living have launched Celebrate City Living, a new program to help homebuyers and renters learn about the benefits of living in the city and find the resources to make it easier to buy or rent a home in Rochester.

“Rochester’s neighborhoods are a great place to grow and Celebrate City Living is our way of making sure everyone knows why,” said Mayor Warren. “I want to thank the Rochester Coalition for Neighborhood Living and all of our sponsors for helping us create an exciting new opportunity to celebrate city living and invite more people to choose Rochester as their home. People who know why Rochester is a wonderful place to live can become active partners in our mission to create more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and provide all of our children with a quality education.”

“The Rochester Coalition for Neighborhood Living is extremely proud to partner with the City of Rochester to promote city living by helping potential homebuyers and renters fully appreciate and enjoy the amenities of living in Rochester,” said Coalition Chairs Beverly Fair-Brooks, Vice President, Regional Community Reinvestment Officer of M&T Bank; and Ted Wood, Realtor, Construction Manager and Real Estate Broker at the Ibero American Development Corp. “Celebrate City Living is a fun and exciting way to increase investment and build a stronger sense of community in all of Rochester’s neighborhoods.”

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David Mckay Wilson, Staff Writer
lohud www.lohud.com

"Tax Watch columnist David McKay Wilson explores the latest development in Westchester epic housing battle in Chappaqua

So far, Westchester County has lost an estimated $22 million in federal funding due to its noncompliance with the consent decree from its 2009 fair housing lawsuit.

Now it would have to pay $60,000 more in contempt-of-court penalties if the office of Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, can convince US District Judge Denise Cote that Westchester failed to comply with its consent decree on two issues involving the controversial affordable housing complex in downtown Chappaqua that remains tied up in the town’s arduous building review process.

First, the US Justice Department has argued in a Jan. 22 filing in US District Court in Manhattan that Westchester failed to meet a 2014 benchmark to have financing in place because the 28-unit development proposed by Conifer Realty should not be counted, as Westchester has done.  Westchester needed 450 units with financing in place by Dec. 31, 2014, and the Chappaqua units made the difference.

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Mary Chao, Staff Writer
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Democrat & Chronicle

"With their three children grown and on their own, Jim Mayer and Irene Allen decided it was time for a change.

Almost four years ago, the couple sold their 2,400 square-foot, ranch-style home in Brighton and began searching for a new place to start a new chapter of their lives as empty nesters. They found their perfect locale at Erie Harbor on Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester near the Genesee River, renting a 2,000 square-foot, three bedroom apartment.

“This is an amazing location and area,” said Mayer, 56. “We love the South Wedge, walking to restaurants and walking to downtown.”

Erie Harbor is one of the communities that will be featured in a new program being launched by the City of Rochester. Celebrate City Living will replace City Living Sundays and will be a year-round communitywide program to promote living in the city.

City Living Sunday focused on home ownership, but the new Celebrate City Living will feature an array of rentals, home ownership options as well as highlighting neighborhood activities.

Erie Harbor, which is owned and managed by Conifer Realty, will be one of the rental areas showcasing what the community has to offer. There are 131 units at Erie Harbor, ranging from $1,100 a month for a one bedroom to $2,300 a month for a three-bedroom unit with three stories of living, similar to what Mayer and Allen are renting, said Katie Simmons, regional leasing specialist at Conifer.

There are 20 different floor plans to choose from and rent includes cable, Internet and water. Twenty percent of the apartments in the complex are set aside as affordable housing for income eligible tenants while the rest are at market rate.

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It is with extreme pleasure and gratitude that we announce that Tajdeed Residences is 100% occupied as of January 26, 2016!

ext5NEWTajdeed Residences is a brand new apartment community located in Philadelphia, PA. Conifer Realty and Arab-American Development Corporation are working in partnership to revitalize an underutilized block into a vibrant, 45 unit community in South Kensington.

The community features one, two, three and four bedroom energy efficient apartment homes. Amenities include smart card laundry center, fitness room, computer lab, clubhouse and professional on-site management. Residents enjoy a quick walk to The Piazza at the Schmidts and a variety of restaurants and local shops. Tajdeed Residences is just a few blocks from the Frankford Avenue restaurant corridor.

“I cannot thank Laurielee Thomas [Community Manager], Tammy Luft [Area Manager] and Millie Hernandez [Area Manager] enough for all of their hard work to make this happen,” said Kelly McKenna, Community Leasing and Marketing Specialist of Conifer Realty in New Jersey. “Thank you for your continued dedication, hard work and winning attitude through it all!”

For more information about Tajdeed Residences, please visit www.tajdeedresidences.com or call (267) 385-8297.


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.

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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.

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

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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 (www.lechase.com) 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.

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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.


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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.

 

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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 / www.theatlantic.com 

"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 / southjerseybiz.net 

"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."

"CHARLES M. LEWIS 
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.

Q&A 
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: southjerseybiz.net
S
outh Jersey Biz, Volumer 5, Issue 11 (November 2015)