Conifer plan for affordable senior apartments approved by Town of Ithaca

Brian Crandall, Staff Writer
The Ithaca Voice www.ithacavoice.com 

“A long-delayed plan for affordable senior apartments has been funded through a state grant and is poised to begin construction later this year.

The Ithaca town board convened Monday night to discuss property easements required from Rochester-based Conifer Realty LLC as one of the stipulations of receiving a building permit for construction.

The 3-story, 68-unit apartment building, to be called “Cayuga Meadows”, would be located on a grassy field directly south of the Overlook at West Hill apartment complex, east of Cayuga Medical Center. Final site plan approvals for the 58,500 square-foot project, a mix of of 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units, were granted in November 2013. Although the land is Cornell-owned, the 4.8 acres the building will be built upon will be subdivided from the rest of Cornell’s land, and the project will be on the tax rolls.

According to town planning director Sue Ritter, a project needs to begin construction within three years of receiving final approval, otherwise it once again has to return to the town planning board.

The years-long delay was the result of a lack of financing for the affordable housing project. As previously discussed here on the Voice, affordable housing is very complicated to pay for – funds have to be cobbled together from a variety of public, not-for-profit and for-profit sources in order for a project to have enough funding secured to pay for construction.

Programs like New York State’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) have three applications for every funded project, meaning it often takes multiple attempts before an affordable housing project is able to obtain financing. For comparison’s sake, that INHS’s 210 Hancock received grant funding on the first try is very rare (but welcome, given the well-documented affordability issues plaguing Ithaca and the region).

After multiple attempts, the final piece of the funding puzzle was awarded to the project by a state resolution on January 28th. The $8,395,000 will come from the sale of bonds issued by the New York State Housing Finance Agency (NYSHFA). Other sources of funding for the project include the LIHTC program mentioned above, and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The project’s total cost of construction (including “hard costs” like materials and “soft costs” like legal fees) is $14.5 million.

The units will be available to individuals aged 55 and older, with incomes 60% or less or the Area Median Income (AMI). AMI in Tompkins County is about $53,000 per household, so a qualifying senior household would have an annual income of $31,800 or less. 7 units will be accessible to mobility-impaired individuals, and 3 units will be designed to accommodate hearing or visually-impaired occupants.

Actual rents have not been released by Conifer, but a second senior housing project they recently built in Ithaca, West Hill’s Conifer Village Apartments, charges $678-$864/month for a 1-bedroom unit, and $803-$979/month for a 2-bedroom unit, with income limits of up to $43,300/year for a single senior, and $49,600/year for a couple.

Conifer Realty owns and manages several local apartment complexes, including the Cayuga View Apartments (part of Linderman)Conifer Village at IthacaEllis Hollow ApartmentsLinderman Creek Apartments, and The Meadows Townhomes.”

view the full article: http://ithacavoice.com/2016/02/conifer-plan-for-affordable-senior-apartments-moves-forward/