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With grant deadline looming, County Legislature backs “transformational” project at old Holley High School

This rendering shows how the former Holley High School would look after $17 million in renovations.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 July 2017 at 10:31 am

ALBION – The clock is ticking and developers of the former Holley High School are trying to line up as much support as possible for a proposed $17 million renovation of the school.

Kim Russell, executive vice president of Home Leasing, met with the Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday, seeking the body’s official support for the project.

The Legislature approved a resolution in support of the effort to turn a building that has been vacant for nearly 30 years into residential apartments and offices that would be used for the village government.

Legislature Chairman David Callard said the project would be transformational for Holley – and the whole county.

“We are so favorably impressed with the presentation put forth,” Callard told Russell. “We give you our full support. It’s dynamic and would help improve the entire county.”

Home Leasing is working along with Edgemere Development, Glasow Simmons Architecture L.L.P. and Marathon Engineering – all Rochester-based firms – on the project.

The developers of the project were denied funding in the form of housing tax credits this spring by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Home Leasing is again seeking those tax credits to make the project financially feasible.

It also is seeking grants through the state. The applications for the grants are due on Friday.

Russell said the company is seeking $350,000 through Empire State Development, $300,000 through the Environmental Protection Fund, $150,000 through NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research & Development) and $100,000 through the NY Main Street program.

Russell said the project is costly partly due to the environmental contamination that needs to be cleaned up. If the state grants and tax credits don’t come through, Russell said the project may not work financially. Without a redevelopment, she said the building may need to be torn down.

Callard said the project, at the corner of routes 237 and 31, is ideally located near the downtown and the Public Square. The project would revive a historic landmark in the village center, and would bolster local housing stock for residents, including senior citizens.

The Legislature’s resolution notes the Orleans Economic Development Agency already has a PILOT agreement in place for Home Leasing to pay to support local government services. The EDA also has approved mortgage and sales tax exemptions, purchase contract, and its own resolution of support for the project.

Russell has encouraged community members to send letters of support about the project. Those letters should be dropped off at the Village Office, 72 Public Square. The village will then scan and forward them to Russell for Friday’s deadline.

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