The Cobbs Hill Village Project
For nearly 60 years, Cobbs Hill Village has played an important role in nonprofit Rochester Management Inc.’s ability to provide below-market-rate senior housing for our city. Our latest Cobbs Hill Village plan for enabling today’s seniors to age in place, avoid isolation, and enjoy basic comforts reflects input and direction received from residents, the community and the city, so this urban residential community may be modernized to allow us to continue to meet Rochester’s housing needs.
Cobbs Hill Village contains six one-story buildings with a total of 60 affordable apartments exclusively for tenants 55 years or older. The community is located at 645 Norris Drive off Culver Road in Rochester, just outside the boundaries of the beautiful Cobbs Hill Park with which it shares its name.
At the behest of community leaders and advocates for seniors and veterans, Rochester Management built Cobbs Hill Village in 1957. Originally, the property’s deed allowed for the city to take over operations and management of the affordable housing complex once the first mortgage was paid off, but like many local governments and other agencies we partner with, the city chose to continue leveraging our expertise running safe and comfortable low- and middle-income residences at Cobbs Hill Village.
As a not-for-profit affordable housing provider serving Rochester, Canandaigua and Syracuse, Rochester Management sees the effects of our community’s affordable housing shortage on a daily basis, with our more than 3,600 low- and middle-income units fully occupied and people on waiting lists for our residences. With an aging population that continues to grow, it’s critical that we work together as a community to consider how best to expand Rochester’s affordable housing options. A new Cobbs Hill Village will help meet that need.
Rochester Management began planning for how to best utilize its Cobbs Hill property in 2014. Given that the apartment complex was built nearly 60 years ago, it is in need of significant upgrades apart from the annual maintenance work we undertake at each of our properties. Further, many people over 55 today are living longer, healthier and more active lives than their parents and grandparents did after WWII, so our tenants’ needs are changing. While structurally sound, the current “motel-style” apartments at Cobbs Hill Village open directly onto sidewalks and parking lots. Cinder block interior walls, tiny kitchenettes, little room for visitors and aging mechanicals are some of the outdated elements which cannot be addressed through renovation. Nor can renovation provide the sense of privacy and security that can be achieved from modern architecture and new construction.
Rochester Management began working on its Cobbs Hill Village redevelopment plan in 2014 in partnership with City of Rochester departments including Neighborhood and Business Development, Legal and Zoning.
In April 2016, we presented an initial proposal to modernize and replace the current 60 units contained in six one-story structures on Norris Drive. In April 2017, updated plans were released to reflect extensive input provided by current residents and members of the community, increasing the project’s cost by $2.5 million and pushing its completion date back by one year.
New architectural designs reduced the number of units to 98 from 104 and eliminate an entire floor of apartments, lowering the maximum height to two uphill-facing stories, or three downhill-facing stories. In addition, new exterior-finish materials and colors, new landscape design, and supplementing traditional apartments with townhome-style units are among the changes reflected in the updated plans, which may be viewed at www.housingupstate.org.
All of these changes were requested during 17 were requested during 17 meetings with neighborhood and other community groups, current residents and city officials in less than 12 months. In addition, one-on-one meetings were held with current residents of Cobbs Hill Village’s 60 existing apartments to garner their input and address their questions.
The new Cobbs Hill Village is designed to help seniors age in place, including a variety of apartment sizes and layouts, each equipped with full-size kitchen appliances, energy efficient HVAC systems and private outdoor spaces. While not luxurious, the addition more accessible laundry rooms, of a small fitness room, a computer lab and an indoor community space will allow senior residents to avoid isolation, having places to enjoy the company of neighbors, friends and family year-round, whenever they choose.
Rochester Management is committed to continue working with local community groups, city officials and residents in order to develop a finished product that will be an asset to the entire Rochester community and the Cobbs Hill park neighborhood.
We are committed to ensuring that every current Cobbs Hill Village resident who wishes to remain in the affordable housing complex can do so.
Current residents of the complex will continue to pay the same rent, including existing utilities, if they choose to move into a new unit in the modernized Cobbs Hill Village. This commitment was made to current residents at the outset of the project, reiterated throughout the process and documented in writing in December 2016 for each Cobbs Hill Village resident. Rochester Management will leverage vouchers and other programs to ensure that cost is not a barrier to any current resident remaining in Cobbs Hill Village once the modernization project is complete. The majority of Cobbs Hill Village will remain below-market-rate affordable senior housing.
One of the greatest amenities Cobbs Hill Village residents have enjoyed for many decades is proximity to the adjacent Cobbs Hill Park. However, Rochestarians who enjoy the park may never have noticed the six apartment buildings located downhill from Reservoir Road. In its current location on Norris Drive, the apartment community is also out of view from Monroe Avenue, Highland Avenue and Cobbs Hill Drive.
The modernized Cobbs Hill Village will continue to remain downhill and out of sight from those locations, as existing structures will be replaced by new buildings on the same land that has been dedicated to affordable senior housing since 1957, in no way encroaching on the Park’s boundaries. Rochester Management is committed to preserving the natural beauty of the surrounding area, including the majority of the mature trees on the site. Cobbs Hill Village will also continue to be less visible from Lake Riley than adjacent private retail development along Culver Road.