Ceremony launches $40M housing project in Rome

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ROME — Ground was officially broken for the renovation of the Colonial II housing complex off Cottage Street, which is set to become the state’s first carbon-neutral public housing building when complete.

The $40.8 million project, a complete rehabilitation of a 99-unit apartment for the elderly and disabled, was announced during a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday.

The building will be redesigned to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by utilizing heating and cooling service from onsite geothermal wells connected to individual ground source heat pumps, individual energy recovery ventilators to provide fresh air and exhaust stale air, central heat pump hot water heaters with a recirculation loop, and a vast solar photovoltaic array to cover 98% of the annual electricity production in the building.

The project’s rehabilitation includes replacement of the existing building’s exterior walls with a highly efficient, and cost-effective system of exterior window and wall panels, officials said, adding the new panels will provide a stronger and more durable exterior that will help to reduce energy costs.

The renovations will reconfigure apartment sizes, which are currently too small to remain viable. When complete, the building will offer 74 one-bedroom apartments for seniors and people with disabilities, with amenities including communal spaces, laundry facilities and an outdoor courtyard for recreation.

The Rome Housing Authority will employ a full-time maintenance superintendent on-site.

“As our neighborhoods and communities continue to grow, it is important that we provide safe and affordable housing options to all segments of the population,” said state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo. “This project will provide seniors and individuals with disabilities with access to modern and energy efficient housing while also rehabilitating and preserving an existing building in Rome.”

Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo hailed the project and it’s potential, especially the apartment expansion.

“These apartments are going to be bigger in square footage of living space,” Izzo said. “And now, they’ll be a size that will let the residents feel more at home. Besides everything else, I think this is an important aspect.”

Upstate East Director of Development at NYS Homes and Community Renewal Darren Scott said the modernization and improvement of current public housing is crucial.

“By maintaining our public housing, we ensure these homes remain a viable resource for decades to come,” he said. “And by upgrading these buildings, we can ensure our most vulnerable residents have a safe, reliable, and healthy home they deserve.”

CEO of Beacon Communities Dara Kovel said, “This innovative project exemplifies how sustainability and affordable housing development and redevelopment can and should go hand-in-hand.”

“With support from our public and private sector partners, Beacon will be able to both contribute to the state’s ambitious climate change goals and dramatically improve the quality of life for Colonial II residents while boosting the local economy,” she continued. “This is a win-win all around and establishes a blueprint that should be replicated statewide.”

President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Doreen Harris said, “NYSERDA is proud to see the Colonial II project break ground and begin construction that will expand access to highly energy efficient comfortable affordable housing for Oneida County’s seniors and vulnerable residents using innovative technology inside and out. Most notably, this Buildings of Excellence project is primarily powered by clean renewable solar energy and is representative of the health and environmental benefits that green construction can deliver to our underserved communities under Governor Hochul’s goal to achieve 2 million climate-friendly homes by 2030.”

The last to speak at the conference on Wednesday was Raymond Hitchcock, a 10-year-tenant of Colonial II and a tenant-elected commissioner for the Rome Housing Authority.

“I’m so happy to see the progress made since construction began,” Hitchcock said. “This new conversion will give residents larger units that are more accessible, have modern appliances, new flooring, and a new heating and cooling system run by geothermal and solar. I’m really looking forward to seeing the building completed.”

Financing for Colonial II Apartments includes $2 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $16.6 million in equity, and $12.5 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The project was also awarded $1 million in the second round of NYSERDA’s Buildings of Excellence Competition and $296,000 through NYSERDA’s New Construction — Housing Program. Additional financing is being provided by the Rome Housing Authority and a deferred developer fee.

Colonial II Apartments is part of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s statewide plan to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable. In the recently enacted State Budget, Hochul secured a new $25 billion, five-year, comprehensive housing plan that will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across New York, including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes.

“As we strive to make New York more equitable, it is critical that we provide vulnerable and senior New Yorkers with access to affordable housing that allows them to live with the safety and security they deserve,” Hochul said in a press release. “This affordable housing development project will provide Rome’s seniors and those with disabilities a modern and highly energy-efficient building that will improve their quality of life, strengthen the community they call home, and help achieve New York’s long-term climate goals.”

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