Latest state grant for $5M will make renovation of former Holley school a reality

Photos by Tom Rivers: The old Holley High School, vacant and in dilapidation for the past two decades, will be transformed into senior housing and also the village offices for Holley.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2018 at 9:43 am

‘I truly believe this will be a transformative project with great  impact for our village and other communities around us.’ – Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty

HOLLEY – A grant for $5.1 million announced on Thursday for the Holley Gardens project will allow a develop to move forward with the transformation of the old Holley High School into affordable senior housing and also the village offices for Holley.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $5.1 million on Thursday, part of $200 million for housing projects state-wide.

The adaptive reuse of the former Holley High School into a mixed-use facility will create 41 homes for seniors age 55 and up. The existing school auditorium will be renovated for use by the Village of Holley as meeting space and administrative offices.

Holley Gardens is in the heart of the Village of Holley and residents will have easy access to local small businesses and amenities, Cuomo said.

Home Leasing LLC, a Rochester company, has proposed a $17 million renovation of the former school, to create residential apartments and offices that would be used for the village government. Home Leasing is working along with Edgemere Development, Glasow Simmons Architecture L.L.P. and Marathon Engineering – all Rochester-based firms – on the project.

“We at Home Leasing are truly honored to be part of bringing this historic landmark back to life,” said Nelson Leenhouts, chairman and CEO of Home Leasing LLC. “Holley Gardens will provide housing opportunity to area seniors and updated and accessible Village offices to the community. We are thankful for the unwavering commitment of the Village of Holley, the County of Orleans, Governor Cuomo, New York’s Homes and Community Renewal and Senator Schumer to the revitalization of this quaint canal side Village.”

Cuomo in March announced a $1 million “Restore New York” grant to go towards the renovation of the old Holley High School.

The latest funding will allow Home Leasing to move forward with the project. Brian Sorochty, mayor of Holley, said the revitalization of the old school will have a big impact on the village and Orleans County.

“The governor’s announcement that The Holley Gardens project was awarded $5.1 million is fantastic news and we thank Governor Cuomo for this award and his commitment to these types of adaptive reuse projects,” Sorochty said. “For Holley residents, this means that when combined with the $1 million already granted from Restore NY, this project is a reality!”

Nelson Leenhouts, chairman and CEO of Home Leasing, and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer discussed the importance of keeping federal tax incentives for redeveloping historic sites during this event on Nov. 11, 2016. Leenhouts, during that event, said in his 50 years of real estate development he has never had a community work so hard as Holley to make a project a reality as the redevelopment of the old school.

Holley village officials have been pushing for an answer to the former school for more than a decade. The building sits in the heart of the village at the intersection of two state roads, routes 31 and 237.

“Residents will soon see this landmark building restored to its fullest potential,” the mayor said. “Having an historic building of this magnitude, which is located at the main intersection in our Village revitalized will breathe new life into our community. This project will not only benefit Holley, but also our entire County. I truly believe this will be a transformative project with great  impact for our village and other communities around us.”

The village worked to have the site listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for tax incentives. The Landmark Society of Western New York named the old school to its list of “Five to Revive,” and that designation helped get the attention of Home Leasing.

Sorochty said many people have stepped forward to have the school primed for revitalization. The school closed in the early 1970s and was last used by Liftec Manufacturing in the mid-1990s.

“There have been many residents in our village that have been hoping and pushing for this type of project for over 10 years,” he said. “Our Village Board has been working at this with the developers for approximately three years and it is very gratifying to see it come together into this exciting project. We hit this one on all cylinders, including support from all local, county and state officials, our residents, and a wonderful and dedicated development team lead by Home Leasing and Edgemere Development. A project of this magnitude simply can’t happen without everyone pulling in the same direction. My sincere thanks to all who made this a reality.”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Holley on Nov. 11, 2016 for a news conference at the old school to show his support for keeping federal tax credits for developers who rehab historic sites.

“At long last the decades of watching the beloved former Holley High School building sit vacant and decaying are finally over because we are breathing new life into this local historic treasure,” he said in a statement. “Now with federal historic rehab credits and state and federal housing tax credits we can break ground on the plan to revamp the old Holley High School into Holley Gardens with new senior housing, new larger space to house Village offices and a restored auditorium for community public meetings. Holley Gardens will truly be a win-win-win: for local residents, for local businesses and the entire regional economy.”

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