Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that construction has begun on the $41 million rehabilitation and modernization of Colonial II Apartments in the city of Rome in Oneida County. The project will preserve affordability for 74 seniors and the new highly energy-efficient design is expected to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and help reduce overall utility costs for residents.
"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," Governor Hochul said. "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."
Colonial II Apartments is part of Governor Hochul's statewide plan to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable. In the recently enacted State Budget, the Governor 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.
Colonial II Apartments is located at 310 Cottage Street in Rome and is owned and operated by the Rome Housing Authority. The complex is accessible by public transportation and located near grocery shopping, a pharmacy, medical facilities, and public parks.
The seven-story building originally opened in 1972 as a school and dormitory and was converted to public housing in 1984. The building has never been upgraded prior to this critical rehabilitation and has become functionally obsolete.
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. RHA will employ a full-time maintenance superintendent on-site.
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 percent of the annual electricity production in the building. This 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. These new panels will provide a stronger and more durable exterior that will help to reduce energy costs.
The developers are Beacon Communities Development LLC and the Rome Housing Authority (RHA).
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The rehabilitation of Colonial II Apartments is yet another example of Governor Hochul's commitment to preserving New York's critical public housing stock. We're excited to create a healthy and comfortable environment for 74 seniors and individuals with disabilities, but to also invest in a development that will lead to a greener New York State. As the first public housing authority in New York to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, Colonial II Apartments will serve as a model for our future public housing rehabilitation projects and will help us reach the ambitious carbon reduction target set by the State's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Thank you to Beacon Communities Development and the Rome Housing Authority for their partnership in this forward-thinking, energy-efficient project."
President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Doreen M. 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."
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.
Renovations to Colonial I Apartments, also financed by HCR, were completed in 2019. Colonial I offers 83 affordable homes for seniors and people with disabilities.
Senator Charles Schumer said, "Every Oneida County resident deserves access to safe, affordable, energy-efficient housing, and I am proud that the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit that I fought hard to expand has supplied the millions of dollars in investment needed to breathe new life into these apartments for seniors and people with disabilities in Rome. I applaud Governor Hochul on this essential affordable housing push, and will keep fighting to get every dollar of federal support needed to help lay the foundation for a brighter and greener future for all of Central New York."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "All New Yorkers should have a place to live that is safe and affordable. This critical project will help ensure that Oneida County older adults have access to affordable housing options and that the community's needs are met. Access to affordable housing is essential now more than ever, and I will always fight to ensure our communities have the resources they need."
State Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, "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. 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."
Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon said, "I want to thank the Governor and NYSERDA for supporting this great project. Colonial Apartments is home to many, and the rehabilitation and preservation of their homes is much needed and will provide years of future safe and comfortable living."
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, "The modernization of the Colonial II Apartments will preserve and enhance much-needed public housing for the elderly and disabled of Rome. This first-of-its-kind net-zero carbon project will be a model for energy efficiency. I commend the Rome Housing Authority for its vision and thank New York State for the funding to make it happen."
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. This is a win-win all around and establishes a blueprint that should be replicated statewide."