HISTORIC: Preserving the community building with renovation to 30-bed senior housing

Source The Journal-Register by Rikki Cason (01-08-09)

ALBION - With a long history in the Albion community, the Albion Academy will soon be open for use again, offering senior living and services. A grand opening celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, signifying the end of many years of hard work and dedication.

“It’s an important building,” said Amy Casciani, senior real estate developer for PathStone Corp. “An anchor in the community.”

Casciani said that in 2005, the non-profit organization got involved with brainstorming on the best use for the academy. She said that the building had become an eyesore, and the community wanted to do something and revise it.

PathStone began planning and decided that the best use for the building was senior housing on the second, third and fourth floors and senior services on the first.

“It’s a very unique project,” said Kim Perry of Passero Associates, who assisted PathStone with architecture and engineering for the project. “The building was revitalized into modern housing for seniors.”

Built in 1906, the Albion Academy was originally the site of the high school, until it moved in the 1930s.

Then serving as an elementary school, the building was closed in the 1960s.

Perry said that the former school classrooms were turned into the now 30 senior apartments, providing modern and safe housing for the elderly. Perry said that the molding was kept the same to preserving architectural integrity, and all the masonry on the building was restored using gray Medina sandstone. She said historic preservation approval was received from the state for the entire project.

Construction began in September of 2007, with the total project cost of $7 million. Funding for this came from PathStone, NeighborWorks America and the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal in the forms of loans, grants, rental assistance and low income tax credits. Also, funding came from the National Equity Fund, M&T Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York through its member bank Maple City Bank. Construction financing was provided by Greater Rochester Housing Partnership and Bank of America.

Perry credits the success of this project to the hard work of PathStone, Passero Associates and Nathaniel General Contractors. She also said that a lot of the success for this project was due to the involvement from former 139th District Assemblyman Charles Nesbitt, who started talks about the Albion Academy 15 years ago.

Besides the 30 apartments, the Arc of Orleans County and the Orleans County Office for the Aging will now have a permanent home in the Albion Academy. The building has been made entirely handicap accessible, with a new elevator, laundry facilities and storage on the second and third floors and in the basement.

“The building looks amazing,” said Mary McCrank, PathStone’s director of Corporate Communications and Fundraising “It was a beautiful restoration of the whole building.”

McCrank said that on Wednesday, the public is welcome to come to the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the historic property. Refreshments will be available, along with tours of the apartments and communal areas.

Albion Academy is located at 16 E. Academy St., south of the Erie Canal in the Village of Albion. For more information, contact Rosa Martinez at 546-6340, ext. 310.

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