Libertad Elmira and Chemung Crossing Create 135 New Affordable Homes
Ground Floor Commercial Space and Community Amenities to Further Revitalization Efforts in Downtown Elmira
Developments Completed as Part of "Southern Tier Soaring" Comprehensive Strategy for Economic Development
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of two new mixed-use housing developments in downtown Elmira. Together, Libertad Elmira and Chemung Crossing create 135 affordable homes and nearly 6,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. The two developments are part of a larger state investment to help build a more vibrant, walkable downtown Elmira.
"These mixed-use developments will bring vibrancy to Elmira's downtown and push forward the ongoing revitalization of the city," Governor Cuomo said. "With our strategic investment in Libertad Elmira and Chemung Crossing, we are improving quality of life for residents, increasing access to affordable housing and services, and building a stronger, fairer New York for all."
This is the latest state investment to advance the revitalization of Elmira's downtown. In 2016, Governor Cuomo awarded Elmira $10 million as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The DRI is focused on transforming the center of Elmira into a vibrant, walkable neighborhood that will be an attractive place for New Yorkers to live, work and build a greater community.
Libertad Elmira is the $20 million transformation of the long-vacant and historic John W. Jones Court Apartments into a mixed-use facility. Located at 624 Baldwin Street, the building now includes 90 affordable apartments along with a Head Start facility and cooperative food market on the ground floor.
Libertad Elmira is a 2019 recipient of a New York State Historic Preservation Award. The awards honor excellence in the preservation and revitalization of New York's historic and cultural resources.
The John W. Jones Court building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. The development, named after escaped slave and Underground Railroad participant John W. Jones, was built after World War II to exclusively serve African American residents. The building was operated by the Elmira Housing Authority until 1999 when it became the Second Place East homeless shelter, which closed in 2003.
All apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 60% of the Area Median Income. Twenty apartments will be reserved for formerly homeless veterans who will receive services and support through Governor Cuomo's Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. Support services are provided by the Economic Opportunity Program, Inc.
Financing for Libertad Elmira includes federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $5.9 million in equity and $8.7 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation awarded federal and state Historic Tax Credits that generated $5.3 million in equity. The developer for this project was The Vecino Group.
Chemung Crossing is a scattered site, mixed-use affordable housing development in the South Main Street neighborhood. The project includes the new construction of six buildings on formerly vacant lots and the rehabilitation of two historic buildings. There are 45 affordable apartments across all eight buildings. All apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 60% of the Area Median Income. Seven apartments are reserved for persons with a physical disability or traumatic brain injury.
The two historic buildings at 226-230 S. Main Street and 204-206 W. Henry Street were designed by local architect Huron O. Smith and constructed in 1887. They are an intact example of Victorian Gothic architecture fused with mixed-use commercial buildings. Both properties now have ground floor commercial space and newly renovated apartments on the upper floors.
State financing for the $15.2 million development includes federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $9.1 million in equity, $3.9 million in subsidy from HCR, and $31,000 from NYSERDA. Chemung Crossing also received federal and state historic tax credits that generated $1.1 million in equity. Additional financing was provided by the city of Elmira. The developer for this project was Housing Visions.
The Governor's commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing is reflected in the state's unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The Plan creates affordable housing and combats homelessness by building or preserving more than 100,000 affordable homes and 6,000 homes with supportive services. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested $170 million in the Southern Tier to create or preserve over 2,000 affordable homes for nearly 5,000 residents.
Commissioner of Homes and Community Renewal RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Cuomo understands that affordable housing is a catalyst for economic development by bringing people and businesses back to downtown urban cores. Both Libertad Elmira and Chemung Crossing renovated historic properties so that Elmira's history and architectural character will be preserved for years to come. Congratulations to all of our many partners - together, we are helping the Southern Tier soar."
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, these two projects show how important historic tax credits can be used to both preserve the past and serve the needs of 21st century New Yorkers. This work will eliminate blight, and benefit downtown Elmira and its residents for years to come."
Senator Thomas O'Mara said, "We continue to appreciate these ongoing investments to secure safe, affordable housing and mixed-use facilities for families and residents throughout the city of Elmira, Chemung County and across the Southern Tier. It makes an enormous difference in countless lives and helps strengthen the entire fabric of our communities."
Assembly Member Christopher Friend, said, "Both of these projects are welcome and impressively well-done renewals of very visible properties. I want to recognize and congratulate the responsible private and public groups that collaboratively worked together to accomplish herculean redevelopments that have been on area wish lists for many years. We certainly appreciate these private developers who have been willing to take a risk in our community. These new apartments will provide the blessing of outstanding housing to many families and individuals."
Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss said, "The Opening of Libertad and Chemung Crossing is an exciting new beginning for our historic buildings in Chemung County and the City of Elmira. We are proud to be a part of securing Libertad that is creating more than just housing, it will be a community for our Veterans that have contributed so much. The initiative of Chemung Crossing is essential to develop our community to have a positive impact on the County and City, by providing our residents affordable housing. We extend our thanks and gratitude to everyone involved that made this project a success, and a path to future success."
Elmira Mayor Dan Mandell said, "I am so pleased to see the completion of Libertad Elmira and Chemung Crossing, which have brought 135 new affordable apartments and new commercial activity to our downtown. Thank you to Governor Cuomo, our state partners, Housing Visions, the Vecino Group, and the Economic Opportunity Program for working with us to create new possibilities for residents in Elmira."
Andrea Ogunwumi, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Opportunity Program, Inc. said, "The Libertad Elmira project represents a dream and vision put into action, rebuilding a community that honors history and frames future. Together, with our veterans, residents and community partners, this innovative programming provides a childcare classroom, health and wellness services, an exercise room with dance classes, and a computer-library area, designed to support and address issues that impact housing stability. Further, a cooperative food and craft market offers a micro-enterprise venture for residents and entrepreneurs. Libertad Elmira represents the next level of community revitalization and EOP is committed in partnership to strengthen the fabric of our community."
Rick Manzardo, President, The Vecino Group, said, "As a mission-driven company, the Vecino Group is deeply honored with this recognition for Libertad Elmira. We believe wholly in the power of neighborhoods, and through development work to create not just a place to live, but a home from which opportunity and choice allow lives to flourish. Libertad is the perfect embodiment of this. Through the continued support of HCR and our partners at EOP, Libertad hasn't just met, but exceeded expectations."
Ben Lockwood, President and Chief Executive Officer, Housing Visions said, "Housing Visions is excited to be a partner in the City of Elmira's revitalization with the opening of Chemung Crossing. This adaptive reuse of a historic structure on Elmira's Main Street is the first of its kind for commercial and residential tenants in this neighborhood, combined with the redevelopment of several neighborhood properties. Together with the City of Elmira, we have provided a quality, convenient, and affordable commercial and residential experience for the City of Elmira."
Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement is a part of Southern Tier Soaring, the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.6 billion in the region since 2012 to attract a talented workforce, grow business and drive innovation. Today, unemployment in the Southern Tier is down to the lowest level since before the Great Recession. Taxes are down and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning to grow and invest in.
Southern Tier Soaring is moving forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion. The region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.