Utz and Dunn Shoe Company redevelopment will create 123 energy-efficient homes

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Groundbreaking event image from East House's Facebook page

New York Construction Report staff writer

Construction has begun on Canal Commons, a $64 million Rochester project to convert a 19th century manufacturing site into 123 affordable and supportive apartments.

“The Canal Commons development will breathe new life into this historic commercial building and create a vibrant community anchor in southwest Rochester,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul. “This project is a key component of my administration’s $25 billion housing plan, and we remain laser-focused on helping New Yorkers through the affordability crisis by offering safe, comfortable, and low-cost housing options.”

Canal Commons is being co-developed by East House and MM Development Advisors, Inc.

Originally constructed in the 19th century for the James Cunningham & Son Company and renovated in the early 20th century, the five-story, red brick structure was a shoe factory from the 1910s to the 1950s. The building has remained vacant for over a decade.

“New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program is a powerful and effective tool helping to transform former industrial sites across the state, revitalizing communities and improving quality of life,” said New York State Department Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

“Construction of the Canal Street Apartments in Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony neighborhood bolster’s Governor Hochul’s commitment to restore, redevelop, and greatly enhance abandoned and underutilized properties, particularly in communities historically burdened by environmental pollution.”

Renovations to the 166,000 sq. ft. building will respect its existing industrial character, with many structural columns left exposed, historic finishes maintained, and the factory’s plank ceilings expressed throughout the structure. Two one-story buildings of no historic significance, which currently function as a garage and loading dock, will be demolished.

All 123 apartments will be affordable to households, 17 will be adapted for those who are mobility impaired and five units for those with hearing or vision impairment.

Located in the Flower City’s Susan B. Anthony neighborhood, the site is less than a mile from Rochester’s Central Inner Loop, which is being transformed and the Bull’s Head neighborhood, which has also been targeted for revitalization by the city’s government.

Canal Street Apartments will be green certified under NYSERDA’s Multifamily New Construction Program with the development utilizing Energy Star appliances, clean building materials, and integrated pest management. They will also offer energy-efficient features, including ENERGY STAR appliances and LED lighting, high-performance space conditioning equipment, windows, insulation, and air sealing.

The site was successfully remediated through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, which helps promote redevelopment to revitalize economically blighted communities.

“Canal Commons will preserve a vital piece of Rochester’s past and contribute towards the transformation of the historic Susan B. Anthony neighborhood from a mostly industrial area to a vibrant live/work community,” said New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas.

According to Scott Moquin, East House acting president and CEO says Canal Commons is the ideal story of recovery.

“This once-functioning warehouse sat abandoned for decades. It was the vision of what this building could become- bright, shiny apartments filled with people and families – that inspired East House to become the Developer and Project Sponsor for this transformative project. Canal Commons will make a big impact on the gap of affordable housing, particularly for those in recovery in this community.”

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