Canal Commons Ribbon Cutting 1
June 25, 2024

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of 123-Unit Affordable and Supportive Housing Redevelopment in Rochester

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of 123-Unit Affordable and Supportive Housing Redevelopment in Rochester
Adaptive Reuse of Historic Utz and Dunn Shoe Company Building Creates Energy-Efficient Homes in Rochester's Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood
Investment Complements Finger Lakes Forward, the Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced completion of Canal Commons, a development that converted a historic 19th century manufacturing facility in Rochester into 123 affordable apartments, including 70 units with on-site support services. 

“The completion of Canal Commons brings 123 units of critically needed affordable housing to the heart of Rochester,” Governor Hochul said. “Our investment will help breathe new life into a historic property and deliver new opportunities for lower-income and homeless households who are looking for access to a safe, modern home that includes access to tools and services that will help them thrive.”

In the last five years, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has created or preserved over 7,000 affordable homes in Monroe County. Canal Commons continues this effort and is part of Governor Hochul's $25 billion comprehensive Housing Plan that will create or preserve 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.

Originally constructed in the 19th century for the James Cunningham & Son Company and renovated in the early 20th century to become the Utz and Dunn Shoe Company Building, the five-story, red brick structure functioned as a shoe factory from the 1910s until the 1950s. Renovations maintained the building’s existing industrial character, with many structural columns left exposed and historic finishes maintained. Prior to the recently completed construction, the building had remained vacant for over a decade.

All apartments are affordable to households with incomes up to 60 percent of Area Median Income. 70 apartments include supportive services funded through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health. Services provided by East House include financial case management, education and employment counseling, peer support, life skills coaching, and social activities.

Located in the Flower City's Susan B. Anthony neighborhood, the site is less than a mile from Rochester's Inner Loop, which is being transformed by extensive State and local investment, and is also near the city’s Bull's Head neighborhood, which has also been targeted for revitalization by city officials.

Canal Commons was designed to comply with NYSERDA's Multifamily New Construction Program. Sustainable features include Energy Star appliances, LED lighting and high-performance windows and insulation.

Canal Commons was developed by East House and co-developed by MM Development Advisors, Inc. State financing includes $20 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits and $13 million in subsidies from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has facilitated the use of Federal and State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits that are estimated to generate $15.5 million in equity. The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will provide $7.4 million from the Homeless Housing Assistance Program. OMH is providing approximately $1.75 million annually in operating funding through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative, as well as a $335,000 Project Development Grant to help cover start-up costs.

The site was successfully remediated through the Department of Environmental Conservation's Brownfield Cleanup Program, which helps promote redevelopment as a means to revitalize economically blighted communities.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Governor Hochul has demonstrated, once again, her commitment to improving affordability and increasing housing opportunities for New Yorkers. The work completed at Canal Commons ensures that 123 households will benefit from a brighter future in an affordable home and the surrounding neighborhood will reap the rewards of a vibrant development that also maintains an important piece of Rochester’s history. We thank our state and local partners for helping make this project possible and providing the resources that will give more residents a chance to benefit from this community’s economic growth.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said, “The successful cleanup of Canal Commons is a perfect example of the success of DEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, which is helping revitalize communities by cleaning up former industrial sites. The protective and successful cleanup of legacy contamination at this site serves both to remove a former blighted industrial property from the landscape and to provide opportunities for affordable housing in Rochester.”

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Canal Commons exemplifies New York’s leadership under Governor Hochul to realize affordable, modern and energy efficient homes that are accessible to all New Yorkers, especially our most vulnerable residents. Living with lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air is an integral part of our state’s carbon neutral future where residents will thrive and benefit from a healthier, more comfortable living environment.”

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn said, “The Homeless Housing and Assistance Program’s investment in Canal Commons will provide households experiencing homelessness with long-term housing stability and access to critical on-site support services that will help them address the underlying conditions that may have contributed to their housing insecurity. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for rightly recognizing the central role permanent supportive housing plays in empowering formerly homeless New Yorkers to live healthy and fulfilling lives in their community.”

Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Supportive housing provides New Yorkers living with mental illness with an opportunity to live safely in an independent setting, which can have a remarkably positive impact on their lives. The completed Canal Commons gives new life to a historic structure and will now provide welcome stability and support for individuals experiencing mental illness. Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to building specialized housing is helping New Yorkers attain stable housing with the services they can rely on to live and thrive in their community.”

New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “New York has a fantastic inventory of historic properties, but many of them are vacant or underutilized. Through programs like the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, we can partner on projects that help meet the Governor’s ambitious affordable housing initiative. Finding ways to bring these anchor buildings back online in ways that address the needs of people today is a great investment in our communities. We’re seeing transformations like this across the state and look forward to collaborating on more.”

State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “With homelessness on the rise, East House’s Canal Commons will meet a direct need in the City of Rochester. Whether members of our community are suffering from substance abuse, having issues with their mental health, or simply looking for a safe place to live, Canal Commons will provide a stable, affordable place of refuge in their time of need. I want to thank Governor Hochul and the entire team at East House for making this project a reality and for all the work they do to help individuals on their road to recovery.”

Assemblymember Demond Meeks said, “Affordable, quality, and safe housing is a necessity that too many of our residents and families continue to be denied. While we have made some progress in our efforts to combat the housing crisis throughout our state, there is still much work to be done. We have a responsibility as representatives and leaders to ensure that every New Yorker has safe and dependable housing. By providing housing in a central location with access to on-site services, developments such as Canal Commons will ensure that struggling and marginalized members of our community receive the support and resources necessary to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Thank you to Governor Hochul, East House, and my state colleagues for this significant investment in our city and the people of Greater Rochester.”

City of Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “Quality housing enhances our neighborhoods, encourages economic opportunities, and is a top priority for the City of Rochester. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul, Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, East House and all of the agencies who supported this project for making this investment in Rochester. Creating homes for individuals who are recovering from mental health and substance use disorders is critical to creating hope and opportunity in our city.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “I’m grateful for Governor Hochul’s continued investments to expand affordable housing. This project will transform a 19th century manufacturing facility into 123 affordable and supportive apartments. Canal Commons will serve members of our community who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. The combination of affordable housing and support services under one roof will make a difference in so many lives. Our community appreciates the Governor’s ongoing efforts to establish new affordable units in Monroe County and across New York State.”

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. More information is available here.