Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of a $20 million housing community in Utica. The Link at Sunset replaced the long-vacant Sunset School with 60 affordable apartments including 12 apartments reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who will have access to on-site supportive services.
"The availability of affordable and supportive housing is a critical component of any thriving community," Governor Kathy Hochul said. "The Link at Sunset serves Utica in countless ways, not only by replacing a deteriorating school with a modern housing development, but also by providing vital services to those who need them the most. Every New Yorker deserves a safe place to lay their head at night and with projects like these we are working to expand access to housing for all."
The Link at Sunset development involved the demolition of the long-vacant and decaying Sunset School. The newly constructed development is a single four-story building with 60 apartments. Forty-eight apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 80% of the Area Median Income.
Twelve apartments are reserved for individuals who will have access to on-site supportive services. Services and rental subsidies are funded through the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Integrated Supportive Housing program. The service provider is The Kelberman Center, also the project's developer.
The building's ground floor includes a 7,000 square feet commercial space for use by The Kelberman Center for administrative offices and year-round programming for the people they support, including events and activities for everyone living at The Link. The Kelberman Center, an affiliate of Upstate Caring Partners, Inc. is the leading provider of autism services for children, adults and families in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York. The Kelberman Center provides specialized programs, resources, and support services to help create fulling, life-enriching experiences for individuals and families.
The project followed compliance with the Enterprise Green Communities, the standard for sustainable futures and the nation's only national green building program designed explicitly for green affordable housing construction & the EPA's Version 3.1 of the ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes Program. The project's mechanical systems include energy recovery ventilators for heating and ventilation with central air conditioning for each unit. Construction also incorporated energy efficiency practices and equipment such as appliances, hot water production, windows, lighting, insulation, and air sealing.
Additional residential amenities include a fitness center, lounges, and a community room. The development is located in a walkable mixed-use neighborhood with retail and commercial business and is close to public transportation.
State financing includes Federal and State Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $13 million in equity and $3.7 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. OPWDD provided $1.8 million in capital and NYSERDA provided $60,000 in support. The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council recommended a Round 9 Capital Fund Grant through Empire State Development for $380,000 to be used toward demolition and construction costs in exchange for the creation of 12 jobs. The city of Utica provided $300,000.
The Link at Sunset is part of the state's unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan to make housing accessible and to combat homelessness by building or preserving more than 100,000 affordable homes and 6,000 homes with supportive services. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested more than $265 million in the Mohawk Valley, which has created or preserved over 2,500 affordable homes.
HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Cities like Utica thrive when families have access to decent affordable homes in the neighborhoods of their choice. Our investment in The Link at Sunset created 60 energy-efficient apartments in a beautiful new building that enhances safety and quality of life for the entire community. With the inclusion of 12 supportive homes and commercial space for the Kelberman Center, The Link at Sunset will enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and help them achieve independence. We are proud to be a part of this exciting development and are grateful to our many state and local partners for their support."
New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Acting Commissioner Kerry Neifeld said, "OPWDD is thrilled to be part of a project that offers beautiful, modern, community-based apartments to people with developmental disabilities, like the Link at Sunset does. We are committed to continuing to support projects like this one as we explore new and innovative housing opportunities for those in need."
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO at NYSERDA, said, "NYSERDA is pleased to see the completion of The Link at Sunset which will provide additional affordable housing for Utica's low-income residents that is supportive, healthy and environmentally responsible. This project, along with others across the state, are demonstrating that new construction can be cost-effective while incorporating industry-leading energy efficiency practices and equipment that advances our efforts to reduce harmful emissions."
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Hope Knight said, "Long-term support, specifically housing that provides services and educational opportunities for people with disabilities, is vital to the economic success of every community. The Link at Sunset not only provides this support for those living in the building but will assist hundreds of others throughout the Mohawk Valley."
Kelberman Center Executive Director, Tara Costello, said, "The Kelberman Center is proud and excited to make its vision of quality, safe, affordable and community-centered living a reality. The creation of The Link took a dedicated team of partners who helped this project come to fruition in a time when the entire world was turned upside down by a global pandemic. I cannot thank all of these key players enough for their endurance and for making this monumental project a reality. The Link is truly a beautiful building that not only represents the movement toward quality living options for people of all abilities, but which reflects the hard work and dedication of so many during a very difficult time. The Kelberman Center is grateful for the support of so many."
Senator John W. Mannion, Chair of the Senate Disabilities Committee, said, "The Link at Sunset has transformed a vacant building in Utica into a state-of-the-art model for affordable, supportive housing for New Yorkers with an I/DD. The Link gives me hope that we will continue to expand supportive housing options to meet the needs of the disabilities community. I extend my gratitude to Governor Hochul and her teams at HCR and OPWDD for making The Link a priority, and to the Kelberman Center for its commitment to the Mohawk Valley."
Mayor Robert Palmieri said, "This project is a great example of a public-private partnership that helped address a major need in our community. I thank all the state agencies and organizations who worked together to turn an eye sore into new housing units for Utica residents."
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, "The Kelberman Center does tremendous work throughout Oneida County and the new Link at Sunset is a prime example of the benefit they bring to our community. This project brought new life to a long-vacant property, and is not only fulfilling the need of an underserved population by providing housing and services to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, but is also delivering affordable housing that is greatly needed by others. I applaud this project and thank everyone who had a role in making it happen."