Press Releases

Common Ground and Partners Celebrate Opening of Eastman Commons in Rochester

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Eastman CommonsToday, Common Ground, New York State Homes & Community Renewal, City of Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards, and other public and private partners celebrated the official opening of Eastman Commons, a new affordable, supportive housing development in Rochester’s historic Maplewood neighborhood. City Council President Lovely Warren, Norstar Development USA President Richard Higgins, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group Vice President Rachel Diller and other partners also attended the ribbon cutting.

Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) said, “Governor Andrew Cuomo is focused on bringing State resources together and cultivating partnerships that create opportunities for New Yorkers to live affordably and independently in homes that enhance quality of life in communities. That is what Common Ground, the City of Rochester, Norstar Development, and New York State have achieved with Eastman Commons. The on-site job placement and social programs, the innovative and sustainable design, and the overall beauty of this development will serve Rochester and its residents now and into the future.”

“Common Ground’s work is primarily focused in New York City, but when a local community partner, Eastman Commons Community, approached us with a need for affordable and supportive housing, we were happy to expand our efforts upstate. Our mission at Common Ground is to end homelessness, and at Eastman Commons, I am especially thrilled that half the units have been set aside for formerly homeless individuals from the Rochester community. Providing stable supportive housing is the important first step towards overcoming homelessness,” said Brenda Rosen, Executive Director of Common Ground.

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Proud said, “Governor Cuomo is committed to addressing homelessness by funding the development of supportive housing in order to help homeless persons achieve housing stability and economic security, with New York State’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP) playing a vital role. Numerous studies have shown that housing stability results in reduced health care and shelter costs for those who have a history of homelessness. OTDA is pleased to collaborate with our federal and State partners on this very worthwhile project, which will greatly improve the lives of its residents as well as further the economic development of the surrounding community.”

New York State contributed nearly $7 million in financing for the project including almost $4 million in Housing Trust Fund dollars, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and other financing from New York State Homes & Community Renewal, and $3 million from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance through the Homeless Housing Assistance Corporation. The City of Rochester, Rochester Housing Authority and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development contributed to the project, and construction financing was provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank NA. Goldman, Sachs & Co. provided $8.8M in equity for the project.

In addition, the project utilized the Brownfield Cleanup Program, administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, for rebates of site remediation and cleanup costs.

Common Ground is the largest supportive housing developer and manager in New York State, and Eastman Commons is their first project in Rochester. The $15 million project includes 80 permanently affordable housing units for low-income working adults and formerly homeless individuals from the local community.

“I am both pleased and honored to welcome Common Ground to Rochester and thank this organization for opening Eastman Commons in our city,” said Mayor Thomas S. Richards. “Directing City investments – in the form of staff resources and identifying grant opportunities and tax incentives – to support this project was an easy decision because it is hard to imagine a more worthy cause than creating safe, decent and affordable housing for the homeless, low-income residents and those with special needs. Community stability begins in the home, so it is safe to say the benefits of Eastman Commons will reach well beyond the walls of this project.”

Eastman Commons, located at 1630 Dewey Avenue in Rochester, was formerly the site of an industrial laundry that was remediated through the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program. The building includes 80 one-bedroom apartments for low-income working adults, the formerly homeless and individuals with special needs. The units are approximately 900 square feet and the rents are affordable for individuals with incomes under 60% of the Area Median Income. Half of the apartments were reserved for formerly homeless individuals.

As with all Common Ground and HCR-financed buildings, Eastman Commons demonstrates a strong commitment to sustainability. All units have Energy Star appliances, energy efficient lighting fixtures and water saving plumbing fixtures. The building has high performance condensing boilers, a highly insulated building envelope and building materials were chosen for their reduced environmental impact.

The building, completed in 2012, features on-site support services, provided by Sojourner House at PathStone, lounge areas for residents laundry facilities, a gym, secure bike storage, computer lab and 24-hour security.

“I am extremely pleased to be here today to celebrate the opening of Eastman Commons, a facility that will provide a safe and compassionate living environment for up to 80 of our residents who are disabled, homeless or earning below the median income. I want to express my gratitude to all of those here today that helped make this great project come to fruition and to Sojourner House at PathStone for the on-site services that they will provide to the residents,” said City Council President Lovely Warren.

“This is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished through public-private partnerships,” said state Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle. “Common Ground and the contractors involved in this project, in collaboration with New York State, have provided safe, high-quality affordable housing for some of our most vulnerable citizens while revitalizing property that might otherwise have languished. I applaud them for their vision and their dedication to serving the less fortunate and the greater needs of this community.”

“This project will not only provide vital housing, but is a great new addition both in economic and esthetic terms, to the Dewey Avenue corridor,” said New York State Senator Joseph E. Robach.

“Transforming this site from a deteriorating vacant industrial building into a new affordable housing project is an important part of revitalizing this Rochester neighborhood,” said Rachel Diller, Vice President in the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. “We are pleased to have provided the financing for the Eastman Commons project, which is a natural extension of the investments we have made in underserved communities throughout New York.”

“The development team worked tenaciously for five years with our state agencies and the City of Rochester to put together enough financing to complete this affordable housing project. The project eventually closed on all financing in August 2010; the building was complete and fully occupied by May 2012. We are extremely pleased that this affordable and supportive housing is serving the residents in Rochester that need it the most,” said Richard Higgins, President of Norstar Development USA, LP.



###

About Common Ground
Common Ground is a nationally respected leader in efforts to end homelessness and one of the largest developers and managers of supportive housing in the nation. It also operates vital outreach programs to assist people living on the streets in New York City. For additional information, visit www.commonground.org.