Good things are happening in long-struggling Syracuse, New York these days. In the previous issue of REVITALIZATION, we announced that $800 million had been allocated to reconnecting and revitalizing the cities neighborhoods by undoing the horrendous urban planning mistakes associated with the I-81 viaduct.
Now, on April 15, 2021, it was announced that Butternut Crossing, a new seven-building affordable housing redevelopment in Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood has been completed. Other than intelligent, affordable transit, few things will revitalize most places faster than enhancing their affordable housing stock.
This $16.8 million mixed-use, mixed-income redevelopment has 53 affordable apartments including 11 homes reserved for people who need supportive services in order to live independently.
“Butternut Crossing is part of the solution to making the Northside neighborhood of Syracuse new again and will provide eligible Syracuse residents with safe housing and access to critical supportive services. This new investment moves us forward in our mission to keep Central New York Rising and create a safer and stronger New York for all,” he added.
Butternut Crossing is the continuation of a 10-year effort to strengthen neighborhood revitalization efforts along Butternut Street, and to further solidify the immediate areas around St. Joseph’s Hospital of Syracuse. By rehabilitating and rebuilding shattered sites in an extended portion of Butternut and tying into N. Townsend Street, Butternut Crossing will address unprecedented and commercial demand, tackle blighted and vacant properties, and improve the quality of life for residents and neighbors.
The Butternut Crossing development is part of Governor Cuomo’s $20 billion, five-year affordable Housing Plan to build or preserve more than 100,000 homes and 6,000 supportive housing apartments. This commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing makes housing more accessible and combats homelessness.
City of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “It has been years in the making and it is an example of an incredible partnership between the City, Housing Visions, and so many other community partners. The project really checks all the boxes. It provides new, quality, affordable housing for residents in the city and it revitalizes a critical neighborhood business district and invests in both residential properties and mixed-use properties.”
Butternut Crossing is located along Butternut and North Townsend Streets in seven separate buildings with a total of 53 apartments. There is a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that are affordable to households with incomes that range from 30 to 90 percent of Area Median Income.
To create Butternut Crossing, the project’s developer, Housing Visions, acquired fourteen dilapidated properties through the Syracuse Land Bank. Housing Visions demolished the derelict buildings to create six new buildings and renovated a seventh to blend seamlessly into the existing fabric of the neighborhood. The development, which has commercial space available to rent, is centrally located on a traditional commercial corridor and has easy access to shopping, services and transportation.
Butternut Crossing includes 11 apartments supported by services and operating funding through the Governor’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, in conjunction with the New York State Office of Mental Health, is the service provider.
In addition to the 11 apartments with supportive services, there are eight apartments set aside for persons with physical disability and/or traumatic brain injury. ARISE, Inc. is the referral agency for these units. Six apartments are fully accessible and move-in ready for persons with mobility impairment and three apartments are move-in ready for persons with a hearing or vision impairment. Thirteen households will receive project-based Section 8 housing vouchers provided by the Syracuse Housing Authority.
Amenities include native plant landscaping, private bulk storage, off-street reserved parking, and access to laundry, computer, community room facilities and energy saving features including spray foam building insulation, and Energy Star exterior shingles. Low-VOC paints and sealants were used throughout. Each apartment has cable hook-up, central air, Energy Star appliances, low-flush toilets, programmable bath fans, and WaterSense labeled fixtures.
State financing for Butternut Crossing included federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated more than $9.5 million in equity and an additional $4.4 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided $31,000 and the Central NY Regional Economic Development Council provided $320,000. Additional funding was provided by Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the City of Syracuse’s HOME program, and Leviticus Fund.
Local and state leaders are praising the redevelopment:
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Butternut Crossing’s 53 affordable homes are part of a larger strategy to bring fresh economic opportunity to Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood by replacing vacant and derelict properties with high-quality affordable apartments. Our investment in Butternut Crossing complements the State’s Central New York Rising initiative by furthering revitalization efforts in Syracuse and creating more affordable housing opportunities. Thanks to Housing Visions, our latest development in Syracuse is moving the city’s strategic plan and this neighborhood forward.”
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Research has long shown that a stable living environment is vital for individuals who are in process of recovery. This is why the New York State Office of Mental Health is working through its housing programs to develop apartments that are affordable and provide the support services that clients and their families needed to live securely and independently in their community. This apartment complex is another example of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to helping New Yorkers at the most vulnerable times in their lives. OMH is proud to have taken part in this project.”
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Butternut Crossing represents the future of environmentally sustainable multifamily housing as the use of low-carbon building materials coupled with energy efficient measures and on-site support services helps to provide the equitable clean energy transition the State has committed to in our nation-leading goals. It is encouraging to witness the transformation of underutilized properties into climate-friendly developments that provide housing opportunities for the most vulnerable New Yorkers and we are proud to support Butternut Crossing’s completion.”
Senator John Mannion said, “This $17 million dollar project utilized state funds to help tackle dual challenges of housing in our region; removing blight while ensuring access to more affordable and quality housing. There is much more work to be done and in my role on the Housing Committee, I’m eager to play my part in making sure that this progress continues.”
Assembly Member Bill Magnarelli said, “This project has been a great collaboration of Housing Visions, the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, and other organizations that are committed to rehabilitating the north side. The new buildings are a very visible display of the effort being made to better our neighborhoods. Butternut Crossing is dedicated to making the community accessible and inclusive.”
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, “An important part of addressing poverty in our community is to provide stable housing that includes wrap around services. Butternut Crossing is a great example of that effort. This would not be possible, however, without partners. I want to thank Housing Visions, Catholic Charities, New York State and our team in County government for their tireless effort to help the most vulnerable in our community and for making Butternut Crossings a reality.”
President and CEO of Housing Visions Unlimited, Inc., Ben Lockwood said, “We are excited to celebrate the completion of this project that continues Syracuse’s residential and commercial revival. Butternut Crossing will provide much-needed affordable housing in the neighborhood, an opportunity to improve its economic sustainability and offers a safe environment for many families. This would not be possible without the commitment and investment of the development partners. Thank you to all our partners and funders.”
The State’s investment in Butternut Crossing complements the Central New York Region’s CNY Rising economic development initiative by supporting revitalization efforts in Syracuse and creating more affordable housing opportunities. Since 2011 in Syracuse, HCR has financed the construction or preservation of more than 1,800 affordable apartments in 20 developments and over the last decade, has invested more than $295 million in the creation or preservation of more than 4,000 affordable multifamily homes in the CNY region, leveraging an additional $504 million from other sources.
Photos courtesy of Housing Visions.