Latest inner-city housing project completed

Posted Aug 8, 2011 @ 12:45 PM


The latest inner-city housing development has been formally completed – adding eight buildings with 37 subsidized apartments.

The $9.2 million project by Syracuse-based nonprofit Housing Visions is located a stone’s throw away from Oneida Square, where contractors are currently in the midst of a roughly $2 million roundabout project.

“It’s providing people with good quality affordable housing and it stabilizes the neighborhood,” said Benjamin Lockwood, director of development for Housing Visions.

A ribbon-cutting for the project, dubbed Kemble Square and funded by federal tax credits, was held Monday with local and federal officials.

Mayor David Roefaro said the clean-looking apartment complexes are an important psychological tool for residents of the low-income neighborhood.

“They’re more than just buildings to me,” the mayor said. “It’s a sense of community. It’s a sense of pride.”

Along with the Utica Municipal Housing Authority, Housing Visions is one of the most prominent inner-city developers of affordable housing projects.

Past projects include:

** Mayfield: A $9.9 million development completed in 2003 that added 26 multi-unit apartment buildings and 71 apartment units in and around Cornhill.
** HOPE VI: A $22.6 million endeavor undertaken with the housing authority that eventually yielded 51 single-family homes and 109 apartment units.

Housing Visions has also gained approval for the $10.7 million Genesee Crossing project, which would see 13 low- to moderate-income apartment homes in the Oneida Square and Cornhill neighborhoods.

That project gained some controversy in the Common Council for its price tag and for not including owner-occupied homes before it was approved in separate 6-3 votes.

Lockwood said tenants are currently being accepted for the Kemble Square development and some have already moved in.

He said that he doesn’t see future subsidized-housing efforts being hampered by the federal government belt-tightening.

“Our goal is to ultimately revitalize the city block by block,” he said.