Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the grand opening of Founders Way, a $27 million development near downtown Ithaca that provides 75 affordable and supportive apartments for individuals and families, plus commercial space for two local nonprofit organizations that offer advocacy and educational services to children and families in the community.
"We are creating new opportunities for families to improve their lives and build a better, safer future, and Founders Way will provide many New Yorkers with the housing they deserve," Governor Hochul said. "This remarkable development represents a new beginning for this historic downtown campus that played an important role in the lives of city residents for generations. Now, Founders Way can help the city's continued revitalization efforts by providing affordable homes and a place where residents can receive the support and services they need to thrive."
Founders Way complements Governor Hochul's sweeping plans to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable. In the FY 2023 State Budget, the Governor introduced and successfully 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.
Founders Way was developed by Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. and consists of four buildings on the nearly two-acre campus of the former Immaculate Conception School, a co-educational Catholic school that served the community for more than 133 years. The main school building includes 67 apartments. In addition, a vacant single-family home was converted into two apartments, and two new three-unit townhouses were constructed on the site.
Together, the new community provides a total of 75 modern, energy-efficient affordable homes with a mix of studios, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments. The development is conveniently located just four blocks from the heart of downtown Ithaca, the Ithaca Commons, and serves individuals and families at a variety of income levels ranging from 30 percent to 100 percent of the Area Median Income.
Thirteen households, including formerly homeless victims of domestic violence and formerly homeless young adults, will have access to onsite support services and rental subsidies funded through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Services are provided by the Salvation Army and include assistance with adjusting to living independently, social activities, and referrals to appropriate community services.
Another nine units will provide supportive housing for people with developmental disabilities, with capital funding provided by the Integrated Supportive Housing Program administered by the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities and services provided by Racker Center.
The site's two commercial units will be occupied by The Learning Web and The Village at Ithaca, both local nonprofits with education-centric missions who provide services including academic support, life skills training, and food support for children and families in the community.
Founders Way is seeking certification paths through Enterprise Green Communities and the US Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes Program. Founders Way was constructed in accordance with the city of Ithaca's Green Building Code. Energy-efficient features include Energy-efficient features include ENERGY STAR appliances and LED lighting, high-performance space conditioning equipment, windows, insulation, and air sealing.
State financing for Founders Way includes Federal and State Low-Income Housing Tax credits that generated $13.2 million in equity and $5.6 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities provided $1.5 million and NYSERDA provided $70,600 through its Low-Rise New Construction Program. The Community Preservation Corporation is committing $4.2 million in long-term permanent financing. Additional financing included $300,000 from Tompkins County and a $200,000 HOME award from the city of Ithaca. The Tompkins Trust Company provided $566,000.
In the past five years, HCR has invested nearly $80 million to create and preserve nearly 700 homes in Ithaca, including West End Heights and the Ithaca Arthaus, both completed earlier this year, and a $75 million rehabilitation of two public housing properties.
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The $27 million Founders Way development is an investment in a better and more affordable future for individuals and families in Ithaca. The transformation of a vacant school has provided 75 households with safe, modern housing only a few blocks from the cultural, social, and economic hub of downtown Ithaca, with on-site supportive services for those who need them. The inclusion of community service space will yield educational benefits to all who call Ithaca home. Congratulations to our partners at Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services for this remarkable achievement."
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said, "Founders Way will ensure that families who have experienced homelessness will not only have safe, affordable housing, but access to vital supportive services to help stabilize their lives. This project underscores Governor Hochul's continued commitment to funding additional supportive housing units as part of her five-year housing plan."
Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld said, "Projects like Founders Way, that provide the opportunity for affordable and integrated living, empower people with developmental disabilities to participate in their communities. We are pleased to be partnering again with Governor Hochul and Homes and Community Renewal on this new development that will not only bring nine units of community housing to people with developmental disabilities but will help to change their lives and encourage independence."
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "NYSERDA is pleased to see the Founders Way project reach this grand opening milestone, setting an example for how the creative development of new and existing buildings can expand access to clean affordable housing. With energy efficient and high-performance features inside and out, Founders Way will provide healthy and comfortable living spaces for vulnerable Ithaca residents while advancing Governor Hochul's goal to develop 2 million climate friendly homes by 2030."
State Senator Tom O'Mara said, "State investments in affordable and supportive housing in our communities continue to strengthen the fabric of neighborhoods and the quality of life for tenants and residents in the city of Ithaca and communities across this region and state. Founders Way is an important commitment that will deliver critical short- and long-term benefits to continue revitalizing and strengthening downtown Ithaca."
Assemblymember Anna Kelles said, "Here in Ithaca, we are experiencing insufficient housing supply in all housing sectors and have been for years. This has contributed to both rising rents as well as increased home prices and has exacerbated the housing and affordability crisis. This project directly addresses the critical need for affordable and safe housing in our community for low- and middle-income families. With Founder's Way, Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) has created a mixed-use community including affordable rental housing, increased access to homeownership for households earning under 80% AMI, and space for non-profits and community-based organizations that serve children and families. Truly a walkable community where people can live, work and play all in the same place. I also applaud the project's sustainability goals, with all of the units in this housing project constructed all-electric with air source heat pumps providing heating and cooling, in line with the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County aggressive climate goals."
Tompkins County Legislature Chair Shawna Black said, "This project is exactly the kind of housing development we need in our community. Mixed-income units close to jobs and transportation, as well as permanent supportive housing for people trying to make their way all contribute to a more inclusive and equitable community. I look forward to residents moving in and taking advantage of this amazing property, close to schools, resources, and neighbors. Founders Way is also an example of governments working together, thanks to New York State for their investments, to the City of Ithaca for their zoning shifts to allow for this project, and to the County's Community Housing Development Fund for a significant contribution."
Ithaca Acting Mayor Laura Lewis said, "The city of Ithaca is grateful for the support of multiple partners in turning the vision for this project into a reality; specific thanks include NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Tompkins Trust Co., city of Ithaca, and NYSERDA in this $27 million dollar project. The city is pleased to have contributed as well by rezoning the site to accommodate this project. Founders Way includes 75 new apartments and townhomes for low- and moderate-income families in our community, as well as offering space for not-for-profit organizations. One of these organizations, the Learning Web, is bringing expanded programs into the neighborhood. Housing in such close proximity to schools, TCPL, downtown, public transit, and parks makes this vibrant mixed-use neighborhood a tremendous asset for Ithaca residents. INHS has a stellar record of developing and managing high quality, sustainably built housing that serves the needs of our community members."
Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services Executive Director Johanna Anderson said, "INHS is honored that it was chosen to redevelop this special site into a place where children can grow, families can gather, and community resources are available. Our goal from the beginning of this project was to give the property new life that will be a source of pride for the residents and neighbors, and I'm hopeful that has been accomplished thanks to Governor Kathy Hochul, the community, and our partners."
CPC Assistant Vice President & Mortgage Officer Miriam Zinter, said, "This long-vacant, former school building was hub of education and activity that served the community's needs for decades. The transformation of this property allows it to again serve the community, this time as haven of affordable and supportive housing for those most in need, and as a catalyst for the area's continued growth and revitalization. Our thanks to Governor Hochul, Commissioner Visnauskas, INHS, NYSERDA, and all of our partners for their commitment to making New York more affordable and equitable."
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements "Southern Tier Soaring," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.