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Homes and Community Renewal

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Announces Opening of $11 Million Affordable and Supportive Housing Development in Utica

Asteri Utica
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Renovation of Historic Jeffrey Hardware Building Replaces Vacant Structure with 49 Affordable Homes in Heart of Downtown Utica

August 15, 2018 – New York State Homes and Community Renewal today announced the opening of Asteri Utica, an $11 million housing development with 49 affordable rental apartments in downtown Utica. Twelve of the homes are reserved for individuals with development disabilities. The project included renovating the Jeffrey Hardware Building, which was built in 1893 and had been vacant since 2010. Asteri Utica is conveniently located near public transit and within walking distance to retail, social services, and other amenities. 

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The revival of this historic building will help about 100 residents live healthy and productive lives in a stable and comfortable environment while also contributing to the resurgence of Utica’s downtown core. Governor Cuomo’s investment in Utica has been transformative. Asteri Utica will ensure that success continues.”

Asteri Utica is part of the Governor's unprecedented $20 billion, five-year plan to create or preserve more than 112,000 affordable homes including 6,000 with supportive services. Since 2011, HCR has financed the creation or preservation of nearly 1,400 affordable apartments in multifamily buildings in the Mohawk Valley of which 175 are in the City of Utica.  

The property, commonly referred to as the Jeffrey Hardware Building, had been vacant since 2010. Constructed in 1893 by a long-standing Utica family named Whiffen, the building first served as a meat company before being sold in 1921 to another long-established Utica family, the Ribyats’ who reconfigured the building into a furniture store and warehouse. Between 1925 and 1960, numerous extensions were added including increasing the height to six stories in 1930. The building served in this capacity until it was sold in 1974 to the Jeffrey family who converted it to a hardware distribution center and warehouse. It operated in this capacity until it finally closed in 2010. The building was added to the State and National Register of Historic Places in 2016 as it provides an intact, significant link with Utica's commercial history.

Asteri Utica features 42 one-bedroom apartments and 7 two-bedroom apartments. The Resource Center for Independent Living will provide services for the 12 supportive units. Building amenities include 2,500 square feet of community space, two offices, a business center and a fitness center.

Asteri Utica’s design incorporates energy-efficient design features such as LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, new insulated windows, gas fired furnaces, and low flow plumbing toilets and fixtures.

The development at 327 Bleecker Street is located across the street from Utica’s Chancellor Park. Residents will have easy access to public transit, retail, and several social service agencies.

New York State’s investment in Asteri Utica comes through New York State Homes and Community Renewal programs, including $6 million in tax exempt bonds, $2 million from the New Construction Capital program, and low income housing tax credits that will generate $3.5 million in equity for the project. New York State Office for People with Development Disabilities provided a $1.3 million loan. Additional financing for the development was provided by the City of Utica and federal and state historic tax credits.
Asteri Utica is developed by Vecino Group.

The Resource Center for Independent Living provides relevant, creative, and innovative leadership to advance the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and presses for social progress that allows for all human beings to be integrated, participating members of our society. With more than 2,500 employees in 38 counties across Upstate New York, RCIL is the largest independent living center in the state and one of the largest in the nation.

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Acting Commissioner Kerry A. Delaney said, "Ensuring the people we support have a home in the community where they can receive the services they want and need is vital to our mission of helping people live richer lives. We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this and his commitment to increasing integrated housing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.”

Senator Joe Griffo said, "It is good to see that a once vacant building in Utica has been repurposed, redeveloped and reimagined. This historic property will now provide safe, affordable and energy-efficient housing and other amenities for individuals and families in the region. I also am pleased that the Resource Center for Independent Living will be providing support services for some of the tenants in the building so that they can live more independently."

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said, “Seeing a building that was a center of Utica’s business district for over a century refurbished and redeveloped as an affordable housing project is another chapter in the continuing redevelopment of downtown Utica.  In recent years, the need for quality, affordable housing has been growing, and the Asteri Utica project will help meet the demand for rental units. As Utica’s downtown rebirth continues, a large part of the story has been its popularity as a neighborhood people are choosing as their home. This project will draw people who want to live in a central location accessible to public transportation, and a variety of services. Recently, this building was added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. This project ensures that it will be preserved, while continuing to play a vital part in Utica’s history for many years to come.”

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, “The opening of Asteri Utica brings much-needed affordable housing to the downtown section of the city, especially for those with developmental disabilities. To see this historic building brought to life once again, and to know that it will be providing support to one of Oneida County’s under-served populations, is truly rewarding. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for assisting with the funding for this project and the Resource Center for Independent Living for providing essential services to the tenants who require them.”

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said, “The City of Utica has undergone a transformation and today’s announcement is a testament to the progress we’ve made.  The $11 million investment into the historic Jeffrey Hardware Building will provide affordable and supportive housing options that will greatly enhance the quality of life for our residents. I thank NYSHCR, as well as, our local community partners as these milestones cannot be achieved without everyone working together.” 

Rick Manzardo, President, Vecino Group, said, “Homes matter. We’re proud to be working with the Resource Center for Independent Living and the State of New York to create quality living for those who need it most.”

Zvia McCormick, CEO, Resource Center for Independent Living, Inc. (RCIL), said, “For many years, the City of Utica has suffered from a shortage of affordable, accessible housing. To assist in solving this problem, RCIL has worked with the Vecino Group, the City of Utica, and OPWDD to make affordable and accessible apartments available in the heart of Utica. This project’s success is an example of positive outcomes benefiting our community when forming partnerships to achieve a common goal. RCIL thanks the Vecino Group, the City of Utica, and OPWDD for their collaboration on this important project.”