Rochester, New York: The Eastman Reserve Provides Housing at Eastman Business Park
Since the Eastman Kodak Company declared bankruptcy in 2012, plans have been in motion to revitalize the iconic company’s 1,200-acre campus in Rochester, New York. Known as Eastman Business Park (EBP), the site has been rezoned to allow a mix of industrial, commercial, and residential uses to return the property to productive use. Supported by the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative, a regional economic development effort sponsored by the state of New York, EBP continues to take shape, with 6,000 workers employed by more than 100 companies — including the Eastman Kodak Company, which has repurposed some of the park’s infrastructure to accommodate high-technology industries. To further EBP’s goal of becoming a live-work-play destination, the human services and community development nonprofit PathStone Corporation developed the park’s first housing as part of a mixed-use development, the Eastman Reserve, in March 2020. The Eastman Reserve includes 187 housing units along with commercial and community spaces. In addition to benefiting its residents, the Eastman Reserve has generated positive economic development and housing outcomes for the surrounding neighborhood and the city.
The Eastman Reserve
The residential portion of the Eastman Reserve consists of 187 one-, two-, and three-bedroom rental units. Thirteen units are in single-family detached structures, 14 units are in 2 townhouse buildings, and the remaining 160 units are in a 4-story multifamily building. All the units are affordable to households earning up to 30 and 130 percent of the area median income. Young adults experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence are given priority for 27 units, but PathStone accepts other special needs households when any of the units are available. The local Continuum of Care, Partners Ending Homelessness, uses a coordinated entry process to refer potential tenants to PathStone.
The project’s common spaces create opportunities for resident interaction and facilitate the provision of services. Outdoor spaces include a community garden, basketball court and playground, dog park, and gazebos with grilling stations, and the roof of the multifamily building has a lounge. The detached clubhouse features a computer lab, fitness center, community room, and offices for both property management and resident services staff.
The Eastman Reserve’s commercial component is a 3,000-square-foot facility attached to the multifamily building. This space has been leased to a daycare provider, meeting a need of residents, workers in EBP, and the larger community. Residents of the Eastman Reserve can also access resources elsewhere in EBP, such as the Kodak Center, which contains a performing arts theater, a visitor center with a museum about Kodak’s history, and conference rooms. Residents can also walk to businesses located next to EBP. The Genesee Riverway Trail is nearby, extending 24 miles from south of Rochester through the city’s downtown and all the way to Lake Ontario, and EBP is working with local governments to develop a more direct connection between the site and the trail.
YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County provides a full-time case manager trained in trauma-informed care for the 27 special needs households. The case manager helps these residents develop an individual goal plan and housing stability plan, and residents receive support services through YWCA funded by the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. Other residents of the property can participate in activities such as credit counseling and budgeting classes. A full-time PathStone property manager helps residents arrange social gatherings such as potluck dinners and holiday celebrations and connects interested residents to an organization affiliated with PathStone that provides credit and homeownership counseling and other services.
The Eastman Reserve and other EBP developments are part of the 2017 Eastman Business Park: Strategic Sites Master Plan, which was developed by Kodak, the city of Rochester, and community members. The plan calls for converting the site into a mixed-use development that includes residential, commercial, industrial, and research uses. Because the previous zoning of the Eastman Reserve site did not permit residential development, PathStone underwent a rezoning process in which the developer worked closely with local businesses and the adjacent Maplewood Neighborhood Association to secure support for the project. Amy Casciani, senior vice president for real estate development at PathStone, says the community supported the proposed development because of the Eastman Reserve’s design and wide range of housing affordability. Residents approved of the proposed transition of building types and sizes: detached houses and townhouses are located along the site’s boundary with the primarily single-family neighborhood, the clubhouse and common spaces are at the center of the site, and the multifamily building and its structured parking sit along an internal EBP street near land planned for future office and research buildings.
Contributing to Revitalization at Eastman Business Park
The developers hope that the Eastman Reserve and EBP spur additional housing production and attract more job-generating businesses to the campus. According to Casciani, the Eastman Reserve helps “create an environment for the Business Park to market to new businesses looking to relocate in the Rochester area” by demonstrating that housing opportunities are available for their employees. In addition to supporting EBP’s goals, the project has already benefited the Maplewood neighborhood. By converting a vacant lot into a productive mix of uses, the Eastman Reserve has generated renewed interest in the area. According to PathStone, more than 700 applicants were on the initial waiting list for housing at the Eastman Reserve, and some workers within EBP have expressed interest in the residences. Since the completion of the Eastman Reserve, numerous home improvements have become evident across Maplewood.
Financing for the Eastman Reserve
The $52.7 million development relied primarily on state and federal financing programs. The bulk of the project’s financing came from the state’s Housing Finance Agency, including a subsidy as well as a tax-exempt bond that supports the 4 percent low-income housing tax credits. The identification of EBP as critical to the economic vitality of the Finger Lakes Region was an important factor in state financing for the Eastman Reserve. EBP is a priority innovation hub of New York State’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative because of the potential for clusters of new businesses, particularly in photonics, biomaterials, and advanced manufacturing, to utilize Kodak’s existing industrial infrastructure. The Eastman Reserve received the support of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority because of the buildings’ sustainability features, which include low-flow water fixtures, LED lighting, ENERGY STAR®-qualified appliances, and electric variable refrigerant flow systems.
Table 1: Financing for the Eastman Reserve
|Federal low-income housing tax credit equity||$19,950,949|
|New York State Housing Finance Agency tax-exempt bonds||10,170,000|
|New York State Housing Finance Agency subsidy||19,051,031|
|Federal Home Loan Bank of New York||1,000,000|
|New York State Housing Finance Agency interest income||495,349|
|PathStone Development Corporation sponsor loan||275,000|
|Managing member capital contribution||293,600|
|Deferred developer fee||1,436,729|
Transformational Community Impact
The Eastman Reserve helps realize EBP’s master plan by locating affordable housing alongside economic development opportunities occurring in the business park. According to Casciani, the business park’s existing and potential residential uses may create a “snowball effect,” attracting out-of-state companies to EBP and fueling its success. Arline Liberti, vice president for corporate real estate at the Eastman Kodak Company, points to several reasons for the development’s success since the 2017 master plan was finalized: the ability to attract various growth industries; high tenant retention rates; investment in capital improvement projects; and EBP’s existing infrastructure, which reduces upfront investment costs for new businesses. According to Liberti, EBP is actively engaged in discussions with developers about additional residential development at the site. Because of its contribution to the revitalization of Maplewood and the city, the Eastman Reserve received the 2020 Development of Distinction Award in the category of Development that Best Preserves Metropolitan Community Impact from the Novogradac Journal of Tax Developments.