Holy Rosary campus to become home to many - Catholic Courier
A view of the former Holy Rosary Church from Lexington Avenue. The Holy Rosary campus will soon get new inhabitants thanks to a $15 million affordable-housing project. A view of the former Holy Rosary Church from Lexington Avenue. The Holy Rosary campus will soon get new inhabitants thanks to a $15 million affordable-housing project.

Holy Rosary campus to become home to many

The former Holy Rosary campus in Rochester will soon get new inhabitants thanks to a $15 million affordable-housing project.

Providence Housing Development Corp., an affiliate of diocesan Catholic Charities, hopes to begin this summer to convert the former Holy Rosary school, convent and rectory into 35 affordable apartments for people with low incomes.

The project also will include adding 25 new single-family three- and four-bedroom homes for rent in the Dewey-Driving Park neighborhood. Several of these homes will be ranch homes that will be wheelchair-accessible, while others will be two-story homes.

As part of the project, the city will provide $220,000 in home-renovation grants to owner-occupied homes in the neighborhood. The city also will provide a $725,000 loan and a payment in lieu of taxes agreement as part of financing for the project.

"The money they are investing in the focused investment area is strengthening the properties around where we will be building," said Monica McCullough, executive director of Providence Housing Development Corp.

Holy Rosary Church, which was built in 1916 and closed in 2008, would be converted to a community space with offices. To preserve the historic character of the building, glass walls will enclose offices and divide the church’s interior, allowing Holy Rosary’s stained glass windows and confessionals to remain visible, McCullough said.

In addition to space for community meetings, the church also would house the ministry Mary’s Place, which includes outreach to refugees who live in the area, a tutoring program, a computer lab, and clothing and food distribution. The priests’ sacristy would be converted to a kitchen, and the altar servers’ sacristy would be converted to a restroom.

The main changes to the exterior of the Holy Rosary campus will be the demolition of an addition on a garage on the property and upgrades to the parking lot, fences and landscaping.

"We wanted it to have a campus feel, even though it is separated into different buildings," McCullough said.

The former Holy Rosary School, at 420 Lexington Ave., will house 20 of the apartments on the Holy Rosary campus. Following a devastating fire in 1981, the school reopened in a new building in 1984. It closed in 2011 in anticipation of the Providence project.

The conversion of the church to a community center is expected to be finished in December. Renovations to the rest of the buildings are scheduled to be finished during the first quarter of 2013. Construction on the scattered-site homes would begin in July and would be completed by May 2013.

Providence’s open lottery for affordable housing spots is expected to start in the fall. It also will show off the project in September during a hard-hat fundraising event at Holy Rosary Church Sept. 13.

McCullough noted that the project has been in the planning stages for years; Providence has been trying to arrange financing for the project since 2008.

"It takes longer to close on the financing for a project than it takes to build a project," she said.

Once the Holy Rosary project is finished, Providence will manage 741 units, McCullough said, and of those, 228 are homes it rents on scattered sites in the city of Rochester.

"We haven’t seen any decrease in our waiting list," McCullough said. "We have had the highest occupancy across all of our properties in the last two years that we’ve ever had. We ran last year at 98 percent of occupancy, and really the vacancies that we have had are turnover."

Providence also has made progress on several other projects:

* In May, Providence is celebrating the opening of Paul Wolk Commons, a 45-unit apartment building on State Street in Rochester for residents earning half of the area median income. Thirty units will be licensed for residents with mental illness, and will include onsite supports and case management. The building formerly was a parking garage for Eastman Kodak Co. employees. All 45 one-bedroom apartments in the building have been leased, McCullough said.

* Providence has received about $4 million in state funding and is working to close on financing on a 21-unit apartment building called Son House, which would provide permanent, supportive housing for homeless individuals. The project is part of a partnership with Rochester’s Catholic Family Center, and the building would provide 6,000 square feet of office space on the first floor for CFC to offer services to residents and those at the neighboring Francis Center.

Tags: Catholic Charities
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