'Significant investment': $4.6 million state award will boost workforce housing in Hornell
Redevelopment of the former Bryant School into workforce housing units, a contentious issue throughout 2021, nets necessary funding to move forward
HORNELL — The fate of the former Bryant School, one of the most contentious issues in the city of Hornell over the last 12 months, reached a resolution Thursday shortly before the New Year.
The project was awarded $4.6 million through New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The project will see the adaptive reuse and expansion of the former Bryant Elementary School into 39 affordable apartments at 173 Terry St.
"This is welcome news for Park Grove Realty and a significant investment in our community," said Hornell Mayor John Buckley. "I'm excited to see Park Grove build and grow their presence here in the Maple City, especially with the recent success of the Rockland Silk Mill project."
Park Grove Realty, a Rochester developer, purchased the school for $500,000 in a sale that was approved by more than 60% of voters in the Hornell City School District. The proposal returned to the forefront over the summer as the Hornell Common Council considered rezoning the property. After some debate and comments from neighborhood residents opposed to the effort, the rezoning was ultimately approved in August.
Support from the state was the lone remaining barrier standing in the way of the project, but Park Grove proved successful in its first application to New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The funding award is provided through a Multifamily Finance RFP, a competitive process used to award federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and subsidy financing for affordable and supportive multifamily housing developments.
Park Grove previously indicated rents will range between $600-$900 a month. While the housing is not subsidized, tenants must make less than 60% of the median income in Steuben County, a maximum of $30,000 for a single occupant and up to $42,300 for a family of four.
Hornell has been steadily adding to its housing stock since a 2016 study found the city would need a few hundred new units to meet rising demand as local employers have increased hiring in the city. Most new housing developments in Hornell have offered market rate units, including Park Grove’s effort at The Lofts at Rockland Silk Mill, but the Bryant School project is geared toward residents who may have been squeezed by a housing crunch in the city.
"Bringing workforce housing to Hornell fills a longstanding need for the city," said Buckley. "This project will also will rejuvenate an empty building which would otherwise be a financial anchor for school district taxpayers for years to come."
The housing award complements the state's ongoing efforts to revitalize Hornell's downtown district. The city won $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding in 2019, with projects now beginning to pick up steam after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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What to know about the housing development
Park Grove estimates construction will take approximately 12 months after the first symbolic shovels hit the ground. The plan calls for a two-story addition at the south end of building, with a footprint of approximately 4,000 square feet on the ground and 8,000 square feet total between both floors.
The gym and cafeteria will be repurposed into apartment units. The breakdown includes 23 one-bedroom units, 14 two-bedrooms and a pair of studio apartments. The public playground at the school is expected to remain open to community use.
The Hornell project was among 21 announced Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul that will create or preserve 1,178 affordable homes across New York.
Hochul said all of the projects are required to meet green building standards, and the developments will provide free or low-cost broadband services as part of the state's efforts to close the digital divide in lower-income communities.
“Our best strategy for recovery from the pandemic is ensuring that everyone has a solid roof over their head and access to the services they need to remain securely housed,” said Hochul. “With the inclusion of additional resources for clean energy development and requiring free broadband access, we are building back better than before by creating housing that promises a stronger, greener and more equitable New York today and for the future.”
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