State joins Holley in celebrating transformation of former high school

Photos by Tom Rivers: The former Holley High School received $17 million in renovations. The building was last used as a school in 1975. After two years of construction, Home Leasing has the building fully occupied with 41 apartments and the Holley village offices.

Posted 10 November 2020 at 7:19 pm

Building sees dramatic renovation with 41 apartments, Holley village offices

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of a $17 million substantial rehabilitation of the historic former Holley High School in the village of Holley in Orleans County. Now known as Holley Gardens, the building offers 41 affordable homes for seniors with public meeting space and offices for use by the village of Holley.

“As New York builds back better, we are steadfast in our commitment to providing safe and affordable housing to our vulnerable populations,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Holley Gardens housing builds upon our strategic investments in communities across the state and in the Finger Lakes region and will provide 41 affordable homes for New York’s seniors. We have a responsibility to protect and support our seniors and new developments like Holley Gardens will provide crucial housing opportunities to those who need it most.”

“Every New Yorker deserves the warmth and security of a roof over their heads and supportive services they need,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “This $17 million project included a significant rehabilitation of a vacant high school that will provide over 41 affordable homes for our older New Yorkers, including supportive services for individuals with physical disabilities. New York is committed to investing in projects like these to help ensure fairness and enhanced quality of life while continuing to build back better, stronger and more inclusive for the future.”

Governor Cuomo’s commitment to strengthening communities and growing the Finger Lakes economy is reflected in “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. Since 2011, HCR has invested over $639 million in the Finger Lakes Region that has created or preserved nearly 7,700 homes.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, front center, cut the ribbon for the project at a celebration this afternoon. Front row, from left, include Ed Morgan, representing Satte Sen. Rob Ortt; Nelson Leenhouts, Chairman of Home Leasing and Home Leasing Construction; Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of WNY; State Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul; County Legislator John DeFilipps ( a member of the Holley Class of 1975, the last to graduate from the old school); former Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty; and current Mayor Kevin Lynch, also a member of Holley’s Class of 1975. Back row: Charlie Oster, development manager for Edgemere Development; George DeRue, Home Leasing’s vice president of historical preservation and construction manager for the project; Bret Garwood, CEO of Home Leasing; Connie Nenni, Holley village trustee; John Kenney, former Holley mayor; Kim Russell, Home Leasing attorney.

Originally constructed in 1931, the three-story Neo-Classical brick building served as the village’s high school until the mid-1970s. It sat unused in the decades since closing. After careful rehabilitation, including the preservation of original architectural details, Holley Gardens now offers 41 affordable apartments for New Yorkers aged 55 and up.

The school’s original auditorium was kept largely intact to be used as a public meeting space for the village’s board meetings and other public forums. The area beneath the balcony was renovated to house the village’s administrative offices.

Building amenities for residents include a community room, Energy Star appliances, air conditioning, and laundry facilities, along with outdoor space. Located in the heart of the Holley’s downtown, Holley Gardens is within walking distance to the village’s library, restaurants, churches, and retail.

Seven of the apartments will be available for households where at least one member is a person with a physical disability who will have access to supportive services provided by Independent Living of Genesee Region. The developer is Home Leasing in partnership with Edgemere Development.

State financing for the $17 million development includes federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated a total of $6.8 million in equity and $4.1 million in subsidy from HCR. The project received federal and state Historic Tax Credits that generated $6.4 million in equity allocated by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Empire State Development provided $1 million through the Restore NY program and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided $41,000.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Holley Gardens serves a dual purpose of providing 41 much-needed affordable homes for older New Yorkers and rehabilitating a historic building in the heart of the village. The state’s investment to carefully preserve the historic architecture will breathe new life into Holley’s historic district, create a more walkable and active streetscape for the building’s residents, and show that the Finger Lakes economy is reopen for business and moving forward.”

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “It is rewarding to see a historic landmark in the village get new life as affordable housing for senior citizens. The project is the first time the Historic Tax Credit program has been used in the village of Holley, which now joins communities across the state in successfully transforming underutilized buildings to create much-needed housing and business opportunities, and preserve local heritage.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul attended today’s ribbon-cutting celebration. She said the project shows the state is committed to bringing resources to small towns.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and CEO & Commissioner-designate Eric Gertler said, “Holley Gardens is a prime example of New York State’s creative approach to community development through our Restore NY program. By transforming a long-vacant school into a vibrant residential development for seniors, this public-private partnership revitalized an underutilized local facility to serve the current needs of the Holley community.”

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt said, “Holley Gardens will be a wonderful addition to the Village of Holley and for our senior residents who are seeking a new, yet affordable, place to call home. By renovating the already existing Holley High School, New York State and private partners have found a way to reutilize the Village of Holley’s landmarks for community residents. I am proud to have worked with tremendous local officials to secure state funding and make this project a reality.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “Holley Gardens is another example of the creativity, hard work, and dedication that the people of Western New York have. With this development, the opportunity to give more of our senior citizens comfortable, affordable housing in the village of Holley shows yet another way our communities continue to give back and support each other. I look forward to seeing the complex be filled, and seeing the wonderful life our neighbors can bring to it.”

Mayor Kevin Lynch said, “In a five-year period, the old high school has been transformed into senior housing and new space for the village offices and public meetings. This is a great change for the village of Holley. Thanks to Home Leasing, Edgemere Development and everyone who worked to make this project a reality.”

Chairperson Orleans County Legislature Lynne M. Johnson said, “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of so many, Holley Gardens is the first adaptive reuse to offer affordable senior homes, municipal offices and communal space for the benefit of all who live and work in Orleans County. The spectacular redevelopment of the former high school is the finest example of public and private partners working together to sustainably preserve and enhance smaller communities with historical assets.”

CEO of Home Leasing Bret Garwood said, “We are thrilled to be part of the transformation of the long abandoned historic Holley High School into Holley Gardens. With this project, we are helping to address the critical need for affordable housing for seniors and are part of creating a vibrant village. I am grateful to all our partners including New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the Village of Holley, and Edgemere Development, who have offered their expertise and dedication throughout the entire process.”

Founder of Edgemere Development John Oster said, “Many thought there was no hope or use for this beautiful former school. The completion of this successful project was due to the willpower and collaboration of Edgemere, Home Leasing, the Village of Holley and County of Orleans, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Key Bank, and our other public and private partners. Holley Gardens is now a welcoming home for our seniors and critical Village offices.”

Executive Director of The Landmark Society of Western New York Wayne Goodman said, “This impressive and collaborative project converted a problematic liability into a true community asset, and by doing so, saved an irreplaceable historic building that has played such a formative role in Holley’s past. With the end result providing quality housing and enhancing Holley’s commercial district, this project is a prime example of how historic preservation elevates our communities across New York.”

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