Geneseo’s planning committee debates subsidized housing project approval

Geneseo’s planning committee met for their first consideration of a supportive housing proposal on Megan Drive on Wednesday Nov. 30. The proposed project—spearheaded by DePaul Properties—will consist of 60 apartments rented to tenants who are encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles. In attendance at the meeting were members of the board, including Susan B. Richardson and David O. Woods, as well as Gillian Conde from DePaul Properties, Gary Smith Perrone from Perrone Engineering and Dawn Epril, owner of the property on Megan Drive.

Price brackets for the apartments are projected to range, according to Mayor Richard Hatheway. The complex comes at a particularly attractive time for residents in Geneseo who have expressed concerns for more tenant-owned apartments, Hatheway added.

“People feel like we have a significant number of non-owner occupied homes and they are wondering when does this become too much,” Hatheway said.

DePaul was also interested in creating more housing options available to low-income professionals.

“People in the targeted income bracket have trouble renting apartments in Geneseo because of the dense student population of 5,000 people,” Conde said.

These apartments will not be available for students, according to Conde.

“The reason for that is because the federal government assists unbelievable amounts of student housing,” Conde said. “We don’t want to get students in housing that will take away from people who need it financially.”

Hatheway said that students most likely would not have been interested in renting these apartments due to their high costs and location, even if they were available for them.

“A one bedroom apartment would rent for $650 a month. I don’t think students would be interested,” Hatheway said. “The location isn’t very conducive. I don’t think they’d be looking at the student population at all.”

Tenants living in the apartments will be allowed to take classes, but cannot exceed part-time hours. DePaul offers its tenants mental health support and legal assistance among many other programs to promote healthier lifestyles, falling under the label “supportive housing.” Potential residents will undergo background checks in order to be accepted into the complex, according to Conde.

At the meeting, concerns were raised about the type of people that the complex would attract to Geneseo.

“The Chief of Police had some concerns about affordable housing bringing in troubled folks,” Conde said.

She reaffirmed that it would not be a problem because the apartments targeted mid-market people in the workforce.

“He and I talked at length and he clearly was under a different understanding of what it was. It’s for higher level income owners,” Conde said.

Questions about the stability of the incoming tenants were also raised at the meeting.

“If these people are transitional, how will they have permanent jobs?” Richardson asked.

Conde responded by explaining that tenants will be required to obtain jobs when living in these apartments.

“Some people work part-time, some people are working, but most people have an income. They have to,” Conde said. “They have to have double the amount of rent as income a month.”

Construction for the site is currently dependent on the funding DePaul receives to start the plans, as well as an extensive negotiating process between the planning board and the company.

“It’s all dependent upon getting funding in order to build the complex. It’s all through the state,” Hatheway said. “There is another place across from the Wegman’s plaza, in the town, where another complex has been proposed for retired people. They’re seeking the same funds DePaul is seeking.”

Applications for funding requests are due on Thursday Dec. 1. If plans are approved, based on the required funding, an apartment complex that houses three buildings and a 60-car parking lot will be constructed on the 30.6 acre area on Megan Drive.