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Former Wambach’s site in Irondequoit could have second life as affordable housing

Community

IRONDEQUOIT, NY (WROC) — A bustling wedge of land off of Culver Road and Route 104 in Irondequoit could be the future site of 96 units of housing directed at lower-income healthcare workers — think food service, sanitation, and maintenance workers at area hospitals.

“We’d like to develop it for affordable workforce housing,” says Mark Greisberger with Providence Housing. “These are people who are working, who are quite frankly spending too much of their income on housing.”

Greisberger says some families are forced to spend up to 60% of their money on housing, affecting quality of life. He’s hoping this project can help change that for some families.

Providence Housing is a non-profit affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and gets funding from the state. They specialize in building low-income dwellings and are eyeing about ten acres on an old Wambach Farms market site.

Greisberger says the contract for this project is in, the first step is to re-zone the parcel.  “It’s the first step in a very long process,” he says.

But the fate of this development rests with the Town of Irondequoit. 

“I love the idea of people who work here, also living here and spending their money here,” says Irondequoit Town Supervisor David Seeley.

Seeley says he likes the guiding principals of the project. “You can’t have people come provide valuable life-saving services, risk their lives during a pandemic and say ‘well, we don’t want you living in our community.’ We’re not a wealthy suburb, we have people of all income levels and we want to make sure we are a town that’s welcoming to all people,” he says.

Residents near the site say this will be good for businesses but, “It’s going to be a traffic problem,” says John Green who lives nearby. “They’re going to have to figure out another means of access.”

“With the way that’s situated, it’s going to raise havoc with the traffic that much more,” says neighbor Bob Loce.

Greisberger says a traffic study has been appointed to come up with solutions. He says so many area families could benefit from developments like this and is remaining optimistic. “We’re excited about the concept and hopefully the community is accepting of it,” he says.

The Town Board will be reviewing this development next month, and a public hearing is planned for September 15th. Greisberger says if all gets approved, they’re are still about one to two years away from putting shovels in the ground. 

Statement of Intent from Providence to Town of Irondequoit:

“In its discussions with various local health care provider, the health care providers have identified workforce retention as an issue that impacts the delivery of high quality health care services. Wages in the areas of nursing assistants (aides), food services workers, and property maintenance workers start in the $25,000 range. In 2020, the area median income (“AMI”) for Monroe County for a single person was $53,500. The entry-level workers described above earn approximately 50% of AMI. For people earning between30% to 80% of AMI, the cost of housing is a major challenge. The cost of decent, safe housing in Monroe County is such that entry level workers often spend 40% to 50% of their income for housing. This cost of housing impacts an individual’s or family’s ability to deal with life’s other challenges (food, healthcare, daycare, etc) very difficult and leads to workforce instability. Providence’s goal is to provide affordable housing to such individuals and families such that no more than 30% of income is directed to housing costs. Providence’s Proposal: Providence has entered into a purchase contract to acquire approximately ten (10) acres of land that is part of the Wambach Farm, located off Culver Road near Route 104. Providence would like to develop 96 units of workforce housing on the site. The tentative breakdown of these units are: 32 one-bedroom units; 40 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units. The development would include an on-site community center and a playground. The parcel is currently zoned agricultural. Providence herby requests that the parcel that Providence seeks to develop be rezoned to multi-family (R5). Presented for the Town Board’s consideration are Concept Plans for the proposed development. If the rezoning is approved, Providence will work with both Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals to develop a site plan that addresses any concerns with the proposal.”

— Mark Greisberger/Providence Housing Development Corporation

To learn more about Providence’s efforts in the region, including helping rescue the Canalside Mobile Home Park in Lyons, click here.

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