By: Kevin Oklobzija, Rochester Business Journal|October 22, 2019
As one affordable housing project reaches fruition in the city of Rochester, another is kicking off.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal, along with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, celebrated the completion of a $15 million renovation of E.L. Tower at 500 South Ave. by Landsman Development Corp.
Less than an hour earlier, Warren and officials from Conifer Realty LLC were taking part in the official groundbreaking on a massive $118 rehabilitation of Southeast Towers adjacent to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at Manhattan Square.
The 193 units in the 17-story E.L. Tower were upgraded with new windows, doors, plumbing, flooring, kitchens, baths and lighting, and elevators also were refurbished.
The majority of the units are leased to residents with income at or below 60 percent or 50 percent of the area median income, and 40 units are set aside for formerly homeless individuals.
Southeast Towers is comprised of 376 units in two 21-story buildings, and up to 336 units will be affordable housing (rent will be capped at 30 percent of income). The buildings are in dire need of repair, said Pam Owens, a resident for 12 years.
“The building is a dump; there is so much wrong in the building,” she said.
Conifer bought the buildings on Dec. 21, 2017, but the CEO Tim Fournier has had a complete overhaul in mind for five years.
“I said to my team, ‘We will find a way to fix this, the community deserves better,” Fournier said.
Kitchens and baths will be redone and new lighting fixtures installed. The water and plumbing systems will be replaced, as will the elevators systems. There also will be exterior work as well as the creation of community rooms.
Leonard Skrill, assistant commissioner of Homes and Community Renewal, said Conifer’s track record — and specifically the firm’s re-creation of River Park Commons on Mt. Hope Avenue — provided peace of mind that the project will be done right.
“The work that Conifer did on Erie Harbor and The Hamilton was remarkable; it changed the fabric of the South Wedge,” Skrill said. “That was the convincing factor for me in saying Conifer should be the developer for the Southeast Towers.”