Auburn City Council receives update on Orchard Street project


By: Nathan Baker | The Citizen | Story Created: 08/10/2012 03:05 AMAUBURN | Representatives of Housing Visions, a Syracuse nonprofit undertaking the S.E. Payne Cornerstone project to rejuvenate Auburn’s Orchard Street neighborhood, supplied the City Council with an update on the project Thursday evening.

Diana Trajcevski, project manager of the $10.2 million demolition and rehabilitation effort on James, Orchard, Washington, Benton, and Clark streets, said work is well underway.

Eight of the 11 buildings set to be demolished are now down and asbestos and lead abatement is ongoing at several of the five homes slated for rehabilitation.

“At this point in time, we are scheduled to finish construction and complete the project in December of 2013,” she said. “The first three buildings — 19 Clark and 66 and 67 Orchard Street — should be done in the middle of winter in February or March and they should be ready for occupancy at that point.”

To address neighborhood blight, Housing Visions will transform 41 units of housing into 35 units.

The new two-, three- and four- unit rental properties will be maintained by the nonprofit for 15 years before renters will be given the option to buy the homes.

“This is part of an overall project that really revitalizes the specific neighborhood that the city identified as being needed for additional revitalization,” Housing Visions Regional Development Manager Justin Rudgick told the councilors. “It had started to deteriorate, and a need for quality, affordable housing exists.”

The project was awarded $3.17 million through the state’s recent regional development council initiative and $600,000 from the city’s Community Development Block Grant. A majority of the funding, about $6 million, comes from the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

“We think this is a tremendous project, because once it’s done you will be able to go down to Orchard Street and really pinpoint the area where local investment has made a fundamental change in revitalizing that neighborhood,” Rudgick said. “Once we’re done it’s going to be remarkable.”

Housing Visions also managed and developed a similar project in Auburn’s Westlake Avenue neighborhood, where Rudgick said the houses “look just as good now as they did when the construction was completed.”