New 50-unit apartment building for homeless veterans planned for East Genesee Street in Syracuse

Douglass Dowty / The Post-Standard | Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 11:05 AM


Syracuse, NY — An $8.1 million apartment building for homeless veterans is planned to replace the vacant former Jewish Community Center on East Genesee Street in Syracuse.

Housing Visions, a non-profit that builds homes for low-income residents, is teaming up with the Veterans Administration on the project, which will be called VanKeuren Square. It will be at the T-intersection with Fellows Avenue on the city’s East Side.

The plans are to demolish the 132,293 square foot brick building and replace it with a two-story structure with 50 apartments, said Ben Lockwood, the non-profit’s director of development. The building will have 44 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartments and total 45,000 square feet.

Housing Visions is funding the project with a mixture of low-income tax credits, state homeless housing assistance and a city loan, Lockwood said. The majority of tenants will be referred by the VA, which will provide 25 housing vouchers lasting 15 years.

Housing Visions is paying more than $100,000 in back taxes and will pay about $25,000 a year in taxes, more than the current tax levy on the property. The taxes will go up slightly each year as rents increase, Lockwood said.
The project is part of the VA’s goal to eliminate homelessness among veterans, Lockwood said. The VA will provide services to the veterans to get back on their feet.

Housing Visions has previously built veterans housing on East Fayette Street and at the former Cherry Hill public housing site.

“Absolutely, there’s a pretty acute need in the community,” Lockwood said.

Housing Visions hopes to close on the property in July from its last owner, an arm of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It will take about 30 days to clean up asbestos and lead before demolition.

The new project has final planning and zoning approval from the city. Lockwood says he sees no obstacles in getting final approval for the demolition and construction.

The VanKeuren project will be the largest single building Housing Visions has constructed.