Fund to Help Restore Downtown Rochester Buildings

Democrat & Chronicle

August 29, 2014Rochester’s downtown will benefit from a huge statewide housing development fund designed to preserve old buildings and build more affordable apartments.

The fund totals $350 million and is the result of a partnership among leading banks, including Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, public pension funds and the non-profit Community Preservation Corp., which lends money to developers to buy and rehabilitate historic buildings in underserved areas in New York.

The immediate local beneficiary is the Bevier Memorial Building project on South Washington Street in the Cascade District in downtown Rochester.

Plans are to restore and convert the Bevier building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, into 15 loft-style, market-rate apartments and 5,000 square feet of offices.

The fund will contribute $2.7 million in the form of a loan to the Bevier project. The CPC also will open a satellite office on College Avenue in Rochester.

Nicholas Petragnani, CPC senior vice president and central and western New York regional director, said developers of the Cox Building on St. Paul Street in downtown Rochester are seeking similar access to the recapitalized CPC Fund.

Plans are to refurbish the Cox Building and to create 70 market-rate lofts and more than 9,000 square feet of office space.

CPC has been investing in Rochester for many years, spokesperson Gigi Kwon said.

The $350 million fund will help New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to create 200,000 new units of affordable housing and it will allow the development of another 7,500 affordable housing units statewide, including Rochester.

“We definitely will have other projects in Rochester,” Kwon said.

Petragnani said the $350 million will be divided so that about 4,000 of the 7,500 units will be built in New York City and about 3,500 upstate.

He said Rochester has many historic buildings and is redeveloping downtown, including creating more market-rate housing. The CPC fund was formed in part to help in such cases, he said.