Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Complex Includes 50 Affordable and Supportive Apartments on Vacant School Site
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments, a $15.5 million 50-apartment affordable development in the town of Verona. The new mixed-use complex, located on the former Sylvan and Verona Beach Elementary school, includes the Parkway Center at the Beach senior center, which was a priority project of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council.
"New York's seniors deserve the support needed to live independently and affordable homes to call their own," said Governor Cuomo. "By transforming a vacant school into modern and energy-efficient homes with access to important services, we have built a community asset that will benefit residents of Oneida County for decades to come."
The project is part of Governor Cuomo's commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing thanks to the State's unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing.
Since 2011 in the Mohawk Valley Region, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has dedicated nearly $232 million in resources to finance 32 multifamily developments resulting in the creation or preservation of 2,300 affordable homes.
The apartment complex is named for Jason Gwilt who attended the Sylvan and Verona Beach Elementary School and who died of cancer when he was 16. The grounds include a memorial plaque and tree planted by his classmates in his honor.
The new development has 44 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom homes that are affordable to low-income adults aged 55 and older. Fifteen of the apartments are linked to supportive services funded through Governor Cuomo's Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Department of Health. These apartments are reserved for residents who need assistance to live independently.
All the apartments adhere to HCR's Green building standards and are equipped with Energy Star appliances, and water and energy preserving fixtures and equipment.
The complex features shared community rooms, a courtyard, laundry and storage facilities, and on-site parking. All of the apartments are accessible to visitors, and some include ground floor patio space. The Sylvan Beach community, including shops and activities, Oneida Lake, and Verona Beach State Park are located nearby.
Residents also have access to the brand-new Parkway Center at the Beach, the complex's comprehensive on-site senior center, offering health and wellness programming, clubs, educational courses, and recreational and fitness opportunities. The Parkway Center is managed by ElderLife Inc.
The developers are the City of Oneida Housing Authority and Norstar Development USA, L.P.
The State's investment in the $15.5 million development include nearly $10 million in equity through the Low-Income Housing Credit Program and $2.8 million in subsidy from HCR, which leveraged $2.1 million from the Homeless Housing Assistance Program administered by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided $50,000 through the Low-rise Residential New Construction Program.
The city of Oneida Housing Authority provided $430,000. Additional funding came from Oneida County, and the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. Red Stone Equity Partners is the low-income housing tax credit investor and KeyBank, N.A. provided the construction loan.
HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's Housing Plan, this 1950s-era school property is now transformed into 50 new, accessible apartments and an eagerly anticipated senior center. It's heart-warming to consider that this new community is named for Jason Gwilt, a young cancer victim who attended this school, and whose classmates dedicated a beautiful memorial to him that is preserved right here on the grounds. Our $15.5 million investment allowed the town and our partners to create a meaningful addition to this community - one that honors the past and promote a stronger and more inclusive future for all."
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "The Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments is another example of Governor Cuomo's commitment to the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative while promoting economic prosperity and social equity. Access to affordable and safe housing in the Town of Verona not only improves residents' overall health, it allows them to remain in and engaged with their community."
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO of NYSERDA said, "NYSERDA's support for this Oneida County affordable housing project will provide low-income seniors with safe and comfortable supportive living spaces that are not only energy efficient and good for the environment, but a lasting tribute to a community resident, Jason Gwilt. This project supports our goal to reduce energy use in buildings across the state, while ensuring that benefits of the transition to a clean energy economy are received by all New Yorkers."
OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein said, "Older New Yorkers should be able to age with dignity and without the looming threat of housing insecurity or homelessness. The Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments are a phenomenal example of adaptive reuse because they are providing Oneida County seniors with safe, affordable supportive housing, breathing new life into a long-dormant school building and above all, honoring the memory of a former student who died so tragically young. We are proud supporters of this project and applaud Governor Cuomo's continued leadership in addressing homelessness throughout New York State."
Senator Joseph Griffo said, "The Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments is a welcome addition to the Verona Beach - Sylvan Beach area. This needed project, which included the redevelopment of a property that had been left vacant for many years, will provide local seniors with the opportunity to live healthy, active and independent lives in the community that they call home."
Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush said, "The opening of these senior apartments is great news for those who are eligible. This facility will provide relief to many in the Oneida County area who are seeking shelter or assistance in everyday living. I am happy to support the Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments as they open their doors."
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, "Congratulations to the Oneida Housing Authority and the Parkway Center for creating this unique partnership to serve members in our community. We are pleased to be part of this project that has created additional housing and a focal point for residents to take part in meaningful social activities."
Scott Musacchio, Supervisor of the Town of Verona, said, "The Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments is a great addition to our community, and I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work in accomplishing this difficult task."
Robert Walters, Executive Director of the City of Oneida Housing Authority, said, "We have met so many wonderful individuals, organizations, agencies and politicians that contributed to what we call our diamond in Western Oneida County now known as Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Complex. I'd like to thank everyone involved in this journey and I hope it meets the needs of our residents and the surrounding community as we anticipate it will."
Kelly Walters, Executive Director of the Parkway Center, said, "We are excited to have joined Oneida Housing Authority on this project to expand the Parkway Center's programs and services to not only residents of the new apartment complex, but the residents of western Oneida County to ensure individuals 50+ have opportunities to live healthy and vibrant lives."
Richard L. Higgins, President of Norstar Development USA, L.P., said, "The Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments development provides much needed new affordable housing, services and programming for seniors in western Oneida County. Norstar Development is honored to have partnered with the City of Oneida Housing Authority in this community endeavor and looks forward to its future success."
Alicia Dicks, President/CEO of the Community Foundation, said, "This project directly aligns with one of our main priorities, that is the creation of impact centers to provide a multitude of services to targeted communities, which in this case would be our aging populations. The project speaks to the commitment from us and our longtime partners like The Parkway Center to ensuring that seniors receive the services they need to maintain their well-being."
Richard Roberts, Chief Business Development Officer for Red Stone Equity Partners, said, "Red Stone Equity Partners is proud to partner with Norstar Development USA and the City of Oneida Housing Authority and provide approximately $10 million of tax credit equity to Jason Gwilt Senior Memorial Apartments. The project represents a great opportunity to transform and repurpose a longstanding vacant building in the community into affordable housing for seniors and a senior community center."
Kate De La Garza, Senior Relationship Mgr., KeyBank N.A., said, "KeyBank is proud to provide $10.8MM in construction financing for the Jason Gwilt Memorial Apartments in the Town of Verona. It was a privilege to partner with the Oneida Housing Authority and Norstar Development USA to make this affordable development a reality for its senior residents. In building to a green standard and by providing both services and comprehensive community space, this is exactly the type of housing seniors need in New York State."