Springbrook to have units in two housing projects

Apr. 25—An affordable housing project involving Springbrook is nearly complete in Oneonta, while another is in the early stages of development in Cooperstown.

Springbrook is hosting a grand opening next month for The Ford on Main, 186-212 Main St. in Oneonta, celebrating the redevelopment of the historic commercial building into 24 upper-story apartment with businesses below on Main and Water streets.

The event is scheduled for May 30. Remarks and a ribbon cutting are slated for 5 p.m., and afterward building tours and food tasting continue until 9 p.m.

"We're hoping that other people are excited about the opportunities with upper-story development," Springbrook CEO Patricia Kennedy said Thursday, April 25. "It's really important to Oneonta that we look around at what we have here, and embrace it and make it better."

Springbrook is a nonprofit organization that provides supports and services to people with developmental disabilities.

Seth Haight, Springbrook Chief Operating Officer, said they want it to be the impetus of many future projects. Haight and Michele Sherwood, executive assistant to Haight and Kennedy, spearheaded the project.

"What it was for us is our commitment to Oneonta," Haight said, "our commitment to people with developmental disabilities [having] working and living opportunities, and then places for our employees and people that work in Oneonta and beyond to live here."

The four-floor brick building was erected between 1881 and 1882 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Construction began in July 2022. Oneonta-based Eastman Associates is the prime contractor.

The completed apartments are bright, clean spaces with lots of natural light from the many large windows facing Main Street, Muller Plaza and Market Street.

The apartment interiors incorporate the original brick walls. Some even have the original stained glass windows. In the hallways, spaces are waiting for art created by the residents with developmental disabilities.

Six studios, 16 one-bedroom units and two units with two bedrooms are available. Studio sizes range from 533 to 598 square feet, one-bedrooms are between 599 and 768 square feet and the two-bedrooms are 776 square feet.

Four one-bedroom adaptable units have design elements such as roll-under sinks and lowered countertops, and four other one-bedrooms are fully wheelchair accessible.

The security system includes key fobs and one-time codes for guests, and there are trash chutes for easy disposal. Recycling will have to be carried to the basement.

There won't be a building manager onsite, but somebody in Oneonta that will be responsible for building oversight will be designated through a housing partner, Haight said.

At the entrance to the old parking garage walkway, Springbrook will have presence at an employment hub for people with developmental disabilities and other partners to meet the needs for downtown employment access.

Also in the public area will be the elevator between Main and Water streets for the public to use now that the walkway is gone. A walking path goes around the building will go up to Muller Plaza.

Outside along Water Street are commercial spaces, which Haight is hoping for restaurants to fill since there will be access to the patio.

Springbrook invested $3 million, much of which will be replaced by grants and long-term financing and then investment will come back to Springbrook and its programs.

Kennedy said that Springbrook, being a local developer, can be there every day, meeting with people and commercial tenants.

"That's a real benefit for any development," she said, "We have an investment here and we see it every day, and we'll make sure that it looks as beautiful as it does today 10 years from now."

For more information and to apply for an apartment, visit www.thefordonmain.com.

Vecino Group, a national developer of affordable and supportive housing with an office in Troy, has proposed demolishing the building at 217 Main St. and replacing it with a three-story, 50-unit apartment building.

Eight one-bedroom units would be dedicated to Springbrook residents, with an office for the service provider in the building.

Haight said Springbrook would be a minority partner, paying 50% of construction costs on the eight units.

The building is the former Where it All Began Bat Co., part of the old Pioneer Mills complex.

The 1.17-acre parcel is zoned commercial, which allows multi-family housing.

It's currently owned by James Florczak, of Schenevus, and is used for storage, according to the zoning permit application.

Rob Holzman, Vecino Group vice president of planning and acquisitions, said Thursday, April 25 that the site came to his attention during a walking tour that was part of the New York Forward grant process, and he brought opportunity to Vecino Group.

Holzman said that the building is not on the National Register of Historic Places, but is within the Glimmerglass Historic District, which means there are a couple of extra steps to pursuing demolition.

"We have a very deep portfolio of work in historic preservation, bringing buildings back to use, but this building does not afford that opportunity," he said, due to modern ADA and Fair Housing regulations.

Buildings typically include amenities such as a community room with a kitchen and a small gym room, he said.

"Cooperstown is a pretty special place," Holzman said. "We want to make sure anything we do there adds to the specialness."

As the project is in preliminary concept planning, there are no site plans yet and the firm is still putting together the construction costs.

Vecino Group does plan to pursue the state's Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program to offer the rental units at lower than market value.

Final building programming and design will occur through the village Planning Board and Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board review processes.

Holzman said that if everything goes through, he anticipates construction would begin sometime in spring 2025 and last about 18 months.

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said in a statement that the village "has long been interested in that site's potential for housing."

In January, Vecino Group partnered with Springbrook in an application to the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Integrated Supportive Housing for the Springbrook-dedicated apartments. In February, OPWDD sent an award notification of $1.78 million, Tillapaugh said.

When Round 8 of Restore NY opened in February, the Board of Trustees approved submitting a letter of intent and was subsequently encouraged to submit an application for funding. At the board's April 29 meeting, there will be a presentation by Vecino Group and a public hearing on the application.

Representatives from Vecino Group presented at the April 9 meeting of HPARB relative to an application to demolish the existing structure. The public hearing for that review is scheduled for May 14.