The Cobbs Hill Village Project
For more than 60 years, Cobbs Hill Village has played an important role in providing below-market-rate senior housing for residents of the Monroe and Culver neighborhoods of our city. Nonprofit Rochester Management’s latest Cobbs Hill Village plan for enabling today’s seniors to age in place, avoid isolation, and enjoy basic comforts reflects input and direction received from residents, the community and the city, so this urban residential community may be modernized to allow us to continue to meet Rochester’s housing needs.
Cobbs Hill Village will continue to serve individuals aged 55 years and older and will continue to operate under the New York State Mitchell-Lama Program, just as it has since 1957. Under that program, our units are available to individuals earning percentages of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the Rochester, NY region. For more information on Mitchell-Lama, please visit www.nyshcr.org/Programs/Mitchell-Lama. For additional details on AMI and income limits, which are set by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, please visit www.hud.gov.
In effort to preserve affordability, the nonprofit has made every effort to increase the supply of the most affordable units as part of this modernization plan. As a result, after the project is complete, Cobbs Hill Village will offer 72 units affordable to people earning 50% or less of AMI, compared to the 60 units it currently offers at this level. For Rochester, as of April 1, 2018, this would be $25,900 or less per year for single-occupancy units.
Cobbs Hill Village contains six one-story buildings with a total of 60 affordable apartments exclusively for tenants 55 years or older. The community is located at 645 Norris Drive off Culver Road in Rochester, just outside the boundaries of the beautiful Cobbs Hill Park with which it shares its name.
At the behest of community leaders and advocates for seniors and veterans, Rochester Management built Cobbs Hill Village in 1957. Originally, the property’s deed allowed for the city to take over operations and management of the affordable housing complex once the first mortgage was paid off, but like many local governments and other agencies we partner with, the city chose to continue leveraging our expertise running safe and comfortable low- and middle-income residences at Cobbs Hill Village.
As a not-for-profit affordable housing provider serving Rochester, Canandaigua and Syracuse, Rochester Management sees the effects of our community’s affordable housing shortage on a daily basis, with our more than 3,600 low- and middle-income units fully occupied and people on waiting lists for our residences. With an aging population that continues to grow, it’s critical that we work together as a community to consider how best to expand Rochester’s affordable housing options. A new Cobbs Hill Village will help meet that need.
Rochester Management began planning for how to best utilize its Cobbs Hill property in 2014. Given that the apartment complex was built nearly 60 years ago, it is in need of significant upgrades apart from the annual maintenance work we undertake at each of our properties. Further, many people over 55 today are living longer, healthier and more active lives than their parents and grandparents did after WWII, so our tenants’ needs are changing. While structurally sound, the current “motel-style” apartments at Cobbs Hill Village open directly onto sidewalks and parking lots. Cinder block interior walls, tiny kitchenettes, little room for visitors and aging mechanicals are some of the outdated elements which cannot be addressed through renovation. Nor can renovation provide the sense of privacy and security that can be achieved from modern architecture and new construction.
Rochester Management began working on its Cobbs Hill Village redevelopment plan in 2014 in partnership with City of Rochester departments including Neighborhood and Business Development, Legal and Zoning.
In April 2016, we presented an initial proposal to modernize and replace the current 60 units contained in six one-story structures on Norris Drive. In April 2017, updated plans were released to reflect extensive input provided by current residents and members of the community, increasing the project’s cost by $2.5 million. Following direction provided by the Rochester City Planning Commission in January 2018, we unveiled further revised plans in April 2018, adding another $2.7 million to the total cost.
The latest architectural designs include 104 units, in a variety of sizes and layouts, among two apartment buildings with a maximum height to two uphill-facing stories, or three downhill-facing stories, along with a row of townhome-style units. It will also include a community building for residents to gather. In addition, new exterior-finish materials and colors, new landscape design, increased pedestrian connectivity throughout the site, additional outdoor amenities, and design changes to windows and entries are among the changes reflected in the updated plans.
All of these changes were requested during numerous meetings with neighborhood and other community groups, current residents and city officials. In addition, one-on-one meetings were held with current residents of Cobbs Hill Village’s 60 existing apartments to garner their input and address their questions.
The new Cobbs Hill Village is designed to help seniors age in place and includes full-size kitchen appliances, energy efficient HVAC systems and more accessible bathrooms. While not luxurious, the addition of a small fitness room, a computer lab, more accessible laundry rooms, and an indoor community space will allow senior residents to avoid isolation, having places to enjoy the company of neighbors, friends and family year-round, whenever they choose.
Rochester Management is committed to continue working with local community groups, city officials and residents in order to develop a finished product that will be an asset to the entire Rochester community and the Cobbs Hill park neighborhood.
New Community Building
Rochester Management’s plans for modernizing Cobbs Hill Village will expand Rochester’s limited stock of affordable housing for seniors aged 55 years and older. All units in the modernized Cobbs Hill Village will continue to be affordable under state guidelines, serving individuals earning 30% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) up to 80% of AMI. For Rochester, as of April 1, 2018, this would be $15,550 (30% AMI) to $41,450 (80% AMI) for single-occupancy units. Cobbs Hill Village will also continue to serve individuals aged 55 years and older.
We are committed to ensuring that every current Cobbs Hill Village resident who wishes to remain in the affordable housing complex can do so. All 60 current residents of the complex will continue to pay the same rent they pay today, including existing utilities, in their new unit in the modernized Cobbs Hill Village for as long as they live there. This commitment was made to current residents at the outset of the project, reiterated throughout the process and documented in writing in December 2016 for each Cobbs Hill Village resident.
Importantly, the rents on these 60 units are guaranteed for at least 15 years, meaning that if any residents move out sooner than 15 years, new residents will be able to move in at the same rates for the balance of the 15 year term. In addition, we have committed to keeping 20 of these units at their current rent levels for an unprecedented 40 years.
At project completion, the modernized Cobbs Hill Village will offer:
- 72 units at or below 50% Area Median Income (AMI)
- 8 units at 60% AMI
- 24 units at 80% AMI
Long-term, once current residents no longer live there and the 15-year guarantee on their units has expired, Cobbs Hill Village will offer:
- 40 units at or below 50% AMI
- 40 units at 60% AMI
- 24 units at 80% AMI
As the largest operator of affordable housing in Rochester, we have served individuals with limited incomes for nearly 70 years. Our plans for Cobbs Hill Village will allow us to provide affordable and more accessible housing to Rochester’s senior citizens for many generations.
One of the greatest amenities Cobbs Hill Village residents have enjoyed for many decades is proximity to the adjacent Cobbs Hill Park. However, Rochestarians who enjoy the park may never have noticed the six apartment buildings located downhill from Reservoir Road. In its current location on Norris Drive, the apartment community is also out of view from Monroe Avenue, Highland Avenue and Cobbs Hill Drive.
The modernized Cobbs Hill Village will continue to remain downhill and out of sight from those locations, as existing structures will be replaced by new buildings on the same land that has been dedicated to affordable senior housing since 1957, in no way encroaching on the Park’s boundaries. Rochester Management is committed to preserving the natural beauty of the surrounding area, including the majority of the mature trees on the site. Cobbs Hill Village will also continue to be less visible from Lake Riley than adjacent private retail development along Culver Road.