More affordable housing planned at Dryden's Poet's Landing

ITHACA, N.Y. – It's no secret that a lack of affordable housing is an issue in Tompkins County. Conifer LLC is hoping to make a dent in the deficit.

The Rochester-based company is moving forward with plans for a second phase of the Poet's Landing affordable apartment project in the village of Dryden, across the street from Dryden High School. Conifer was just awarded $1.6 million in a Housing Trust Fund grant from the State of New York's Homes and Community Renewal division, and $734,956 in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) to help finance construction of the new apartments.

As described in the Voice previously, financing affordable housing is complicated, depending on a mix of public and private funding sources, and it usually takes years to be awarded funding, because the programs receive far more applications than there is money available, about three applications for each grantee. Conifer's $10.8 million expansion of Poet's Landing will rely on the state Housing Trust Fund grant and low-income housing credit equity, as well as a construction loan from Citibank.

Plans call for 48 units - 24 1-bedroom, 16 2-bedroom, and 8 3-bedroom units. Three units will be adapted for mobility-impaired residents, and a fourth unit will be adapted to individuals who are hearing or vision-impaired. According to a filing with the state as part of the grant application,the gross rents (rent plus utilities) will range from $724 to $1,070 a month, to be occupied by households with incomes 50% to 60% of area median income.

2015 AMI in Tompkins County is $54,100 for a single person, and $61,800 for a two-person household, and $69,500 for a three-person household. Therefore, the income limits are $27,050-$32,460 for a single person, $30,900-$37,080 for a two-person household, and $34,750-$41,700 for a three-person household.

The new units will be built in 6 2-story buildings directly west of the first phase of Poet's Landing, which opened in early 2013. Conifer-LeChase Construction (a joint venture between the two firms) will serve as the general contractor for the project, and Rochester-based NH Architecture will be designing the units. Both companies are already active in Ithaca, with LeChase finishing up the Carey Building in downtown Ithaca, and NH Architecture working on the new wing of the Hotel Ithaca currently under construction.

Conifer itself will be quite busy in Tompkins County over the coming year, as work commences on their Cayuga Meadows apartments on West Hill, a 68-unit affordable housing project aimed at seniors.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment about Phase II of Poet's Landing, saying they wanted to start construction before engaging in interviews. The tentative timeline is to start construction in August or early September, with the first tenants moving in during late summer 2017.