Work to begin on $50 million housing project – Rochester Business Journal

Work to begin on $50 million housing project

by: Andrea Deckert

Work is about to begin on Upper Falls Square, a $50 million affordable housing project at Cleveland Street and Hudson Avenue.

DePaul Community Services Inc. and Christa Construction LLC are working together on the project. SWBR Architecture, Engineering & Landscape Architecture P.C. designed the two buildings that have a total of 150 apartments.

DePaul President Mark Fuller said Upper Falls Square is the biggest project in terms of size and cost the agency has undertaken.

It is also a project that may not have happened in 2017, given a last-minute loss of financial backing from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which wanted to hold off on providing equity until tax rates under the new U.S. president were announced, he added.

The wait could have pushed the project back for some time, Fuller noted, but he said the help of a mix of groups kept the project on track. The group included Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who helped get the approvals in place in a timely manner, and M&T Bank Corp., which ended up providing the equity.

“It took a whole team,” Fuller said.

The project is targeted for completion by the end of 2018.

Christa CEO David Christa, who grew up near the area where the development is taking place, also credited the group effort for moving the process along, with help from state and city officials, as well as lenders.

He calls the project transformational.

“It’s a big deal for the city and one that could have been pushed into (starting) next year if not for the incredible team effort,” Christa said.

Fuller spoke with city representatives before the project began to get their feedback on where such a project should be located. The Upper Falls area was a top priority, he said, noting the area has been in need of affordable housing options.

Fuller noted the project will not only provide housing, but such projects tend to help with a drop in crime and an increase in employment rates, based on other housing projects DePaul has undertaken.

The Rev. Raymond Scott, a longtime community activist in the area and a member of DePaul’s board of directors, said the project is the cornerstone of redevelopment in that area.

“This project has created a lot of excitement,” Scott said.

In addition to DePaul efforts, Scott credited David Carr, construction manager for the Coalition of Northeast Associations, a neighborhood association representing the Upper Falls area, for the revitalization.

Other redevelopment efforts there include expanding services of the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center, a new PUC Achieve Charter School and a daycare center, Scott added.

Upper Falls Square is located on roughly 3.2 acres of vacant land that once held condemned homes until they were razed by the city.

The apartments will include studios, as well as one- and two-bedroom units.

Income requirements for 146 of the units are set at 60 percent of area median income and four units are set at 90 percent of area median income.

Roughly half of the residents will receive services under a Supported Single Room Occupancy program, which is a noncertified state Office of Mental Health program that provides long-term or permanent housing where residents can access the support services they require to live in the community.

Christa and DePaul have been doing projects together for the past 30 years.

Among them is DePaul Rochester View Apartments, the $17.6 million affordable housing apartment building for the deaf in Henrietta, and the DePaul Carriage Factory Apartments, a $23.5 million affordable housing project in the city’s Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood.

DePaul recently finished an affordable housing project in West Seneca, Erie County, and has some 18 projects in the works across upstate New York, Fuller said.

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Local housing market enters 2017 with solid momentum – Rochester Business Journal

Local housing market enters 2017 with solid momentum

by: Gary Keith

Greater Rochester regional home sales have risen for six consecutive years, with 2016’s 14,278 transactions topping the all-time high set in 2005.

The 7.6 percent rise in closed sales was the strongest since 2012 and nearly double the 4 percent national average gain (Figure 1).

This positive trend reflects the slow but steady improvement in local labor market fundamentals since the end of the Great Recession.

Adjusted for inflation, aggregate payroll earnings for all private-sector workers in the Rochester area have risen 11 percent since 2009. If the hard-hit chemicals manufacturing sector is excluded, the increase in real earnings jumps to 13.8 percent, only slightly below the 16.4 percent U.S. norm.

Rising employment and income, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, is a powerful driver of housing demand. So much so that supply constraints are now a factor in the 2017 sales outlook.

The inventory of available Rochester-area homes for sale has declined from a 6.1-month supply in 2011 to an estimated 3.5 months in 2016 (Figure 2). In Monroe County, that figure is even lower, flirting with just a two-month supply—or one-third the level typically considered well-balanced based on historic sales patterns.

As one might expect with greater collective purchasing power chasing a limited supply of available properties, the median sales price of Rochester-area homes is moving higher—climbing 1.4 percent in 2016 and 10 percent since 2011.

Throw in a wild card of demographic support from a growing pool of millennial-age first-time buyers, and the near-term outlook remains upbeat.

While conventional mortgage rates are expected to increase 50 basis points by year-end, the hike should not derail overall demand—making 2017 another good year for home sales, construction and ancillary businesses tied to the real estate cycle.

Gary Keith is vice president and regional economist at M&T Bank Corp.

RHA unveils renovated homes – Rochester Business Journal

RHA unveils renovated homes

by: Anne Saunders

The Rochester Housing Authority held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for four renovated homes on Garson Avenue, near the Public Market.

The project cost $410,000, drawn from a Housing and Urban Development grant, to make improvements to both the interior and exterior of the three-bedroom townhouses at 54-66 Garson Ave. The improvements not only give the buildings a modern look, but include energy improvements such as more efficient furnaces.

“Who says public housing needs to look like public housing?” John Hill, the new executive director of the housing authority, said in a statement.

Hill began using the phrase Changing the Face of Public Housing after his hire in mid-2016. To further the initiative, the Housing Authority brought three new architect-engineering firms under contract, Lothrop Associates LLP, Konopka Architecture and the Liro Group.

In addition, RHA will be selecting a developer partner within the next 60 days and expanding its grant writing capabilities. The goal is to enhance the organization’s ability to develop larger properties and obtain alternative sources of financing,.

With 54-66 Garson Ave. completed, RHA has four other comprehensive modernization capital projects slated to begin the initial planning phases this year.

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HR Connection: Volunteerism a win-win source for professional development – The Daily Record

HR Connection: Volunteerism a win-win source for professional development

by: Frank Cania

For those who have come to expect an explanation of the latest legislative or regulatory issue to menace businesses, you will find this month’s article a departure, and hopefully an interesting departure, from the norm. Not that there aren’t a plethora of legislative and regulatory issues menacing businesses. Far from it. But, from time to time, it’s good for my brain to take a different path.

This month I’m going to focus on the incredible personal and professional benefits of volunteering. Over the last eight months I’ve had several opportunities to share “my story.” That is how I started, grew, and then almost 10 years to the day sold my company, driven HR. And as I looked back over that time I realized there were, and continue to be, two foundational elements to my success. First, the patient and enduring love of my wife, Becky, and our two children. Secondly, the incredible opportunities I’ve been afforded through my many volunteer roles. The fact that you’re reading this article is a result of my volunteer commitment to the Rochester Chapter of the National Human Resource Association (“NHRA”). By sharing my time and talents as a volunteer, I’ve received an immeasurable return on my investment.

The first step to becoming a volunteer is simply raising your hand to say, “I’d like to help.” As easy as that sounds, there are countless reasons — excuses, really — why people don’t take that first step. Let’s look at a few of the most common excuses I’ve heard recently:

  • “I’m so busy with (fill in the blank), I can’t imagine taking on one more thing!” Have you ever heard that if you want something done, ask a busy person? From the statistics I’ve read, it rings true here. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteers are most often well-educated (27%), employed (39%), parents of children 18 or younger (31%), and in their mid-30s to mid-50s (28%). Further, women are more likely to volunteer (28%) than men (22%). (Women are also 100% more likely to be busier than men, according to my wife!)
  • “The organization does such a great job with everything, and I’ve never been asked to help, so I’m sure they don’t need me.” This one is a double-edged sword for most organizations. Yes, they do a great job, but that’s often because a core group of volunteers gives a lot of their time and talents. Don’t wait for a personal invitation. Ask how you can help or offer to fill an open role.
  • “I don’t have any experience or anything special to offer.” You won’t need experience for most volunteer roles, and you do have something special to offer — you want to help.
  • “I’m shy and uncomfortable around people I don’t know.” I’ll admit, I can’t identify with this one. But, I know several people who feel this way and have still found great opportunities to volunteer. Many organizations need “behind the scenes” help.
  • “I had a bad experience once as a volunteer.” It happens. I’ve had a few bad experiences, and countless great experiences. The truth is not every volunteer organization is perfect and neither is every volunteer leader. If you had a bad experience, move past it and find a new opportunity.

With the excuses out of the way, let’s focus on just one of the many avenues available for volunteering:  professional associations. When I ask HR professionals why they volunteer with professional organizations like the Association for Talent Development (“ATD”), the Association of Workplace Investigators (“AWI”), NHRA, and SHRM, I hear many of the same reasons. To network with peers from other organizations, gain experience using a specific set of skills, increase professional knowledge, share experiences, demonstrate leadership abilities, and help sustain and grow the organization. What I seldom find are professionals who consciously recognize or consider how volunteer experiences will, more often than not, significantly enhance their professional development. Further, when I mention this point, many act as if volunteering in exchange for professional development makes the act less charitable. Not true!

HR Connection: Volunteerism a win-win source for professional development

Bryant: Don’t ‘donate’ trash to charity – Democrat & Chronicle

Bryant: Don’t ‘donate’ trash to charity

by: Erica Bryant

Trucks and vans drive through Pittsford village, often under cover of darkness. They stop at the Saint’s Place’s donation drop-off site and then drive off, leaving the refugee resettlement charity a little poorer.

Technically, these thieves don’t “steal.” Rather they cart in their own junk and leave it for the charity to deal with. The effect is the same.

Each truckload of garbage — cracked aquariums, mildewed couches, stained rugs, broken dressers —  costs Saint’s Place about $150 to dispose of. Typically the non-profit accumulates a truckload of donated junk per month. So much unusable stuff has been piling up recently, the charity can find itself doing a “dump run” every two weeks.

Director Michele Quinn tries to look at unusable donations, like a stethoscope, with a sense of humor. “We had a lot of Cuban doctors come in last year, maybe one of them could use it,” Quinn said. “Every time I turn around, there is something to make you laugh.”

A stethoscope, at least, is small. Not so for the tattered and gigantic corner sectional that turned up one morning this week. It would take up most of the floor space in a refugee’s humble apartment. Plus it was not in good condition, so volunteers had to cart this very heavy piece of furniture to the dump and pay for its disposal.

Quinn stresses that Saint’s Place is extremely grateful for donations of clean, gently used items. Last year it used them to furnish homes for 1250 refugees who have fled danger, arriving in Rochester with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Saint’s Place wish list includes clean clothing, furniture, lamps, small appliances, linens, pots, pans, dishes and children’s toys. Saint’s Place volunteers are happy to go to homes and pick up heavy furniture for donation.

Too often people dump huge items when no one is around — possibly because they are embarrassed to have anyone see that they are “donating” couches with no springs, broken dressers and damaged office furniture.

“On the weekends people just leave it in our backyard,” Quinn said. “It doesn’t help us accomplish our mission and takes a lot of extra volunteer hours to deal with.”

Saint’s Place simply will not give refugees anything that is broken or dirty. Volunteers do not have the time to find new drawers, handles and feet for a broken dresser. It would be nice to have a furniture refurbishing center one day, said Quinn. For now Saint’s Place’s hands are full and broken furniture is simply a burden.

When in doubt, it is best to ask if a large item will be useful to a charity before donating it. The Community Wishbook at has a list of charities and their wish lists to help people find the best place for their donations.

Sometimes stuff just needs to be thrown away. Don’t make a charity do your dirty work.

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