First look at Manhattan Square complex upgrades


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Manhattan Square apartment complex in downtown Rochester is undergoing a massive renovation. Tuesday, News 8 was invited to see some of the new apartment upgrades and speak to residents. 

Conifer Realty, who bought the buildings back in 2017, says this is going to be a complete transformation of the entire community. It’s a $50 million dollar project on the 300-plus apartments involving the City, State, and Housing and Urban Development.

The construction teams are moving vertically, installing all new plumbing, new roofs, new ventilation, HV/AC, and removing asbestos. There are also upgraded kitchens, new flooring and a host of other additions in the apartments.

Robert Lampher with Confier says they have a 45-year track record of changing people’s lives through affordable housing. He says thanks to tax credits and other incentives, the rents for these apartments will not go up, and in some cases, will actually lower. 

“Not only are we bringing in this long-term affordability, we are transforming the community and bringing it up to the standards that our residents really deserve to have,” says Lampher.

“It’s well worth it, and just seeing the transition that’s going on, I can’t do anything but sit back and wait and be happy,” says Michelle Hopkins, a Manhattan Square resident.

“In the bathrooms, we’ve replaced the tubs…fixtures, vanity, flooring,” says Lisa Kaseman with Conifer. She adds they are in the midst of this 36 month project for the 300-plus apartments, and still have a ways to go. “We are not done, we’ve done 32 apartments so far,” she says.

Some residents have complained in the past about the work and want to be relocated while the transformation is happening.

“With the asbestos abatement being done, I just wish they would have put us somewhere safe or where we wouldn’t have to be smelling all the different chemicals,” says Pamela Owens with the tenants union.

Owens is taking Confier to court over the matter and a judge’s decision is pending. Conifer says the asbestos is not exposed.

“When it comes to the asbestos, it’s really important to have that communication,” says Kaseman.

Conifer is asking residents to have some patience and faith in the project. “Construction is never fun for anybody but, we’re a community working together to transform this community,” says Lampher.

Work is expected to finish up in late December of 2021.

MORE | Manhattan Square residents fed up with ‘endless’ asbestos work, other issues

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