Transformation of former Irondequoit Mall unveiled

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IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WHEC) — It was a crazy idea. Develop part of an empty mall into housing. How do you do that? Irondequoit figured it out along with a bunch of partners.

The developer believes it’s a transformation that may be a first in the country. PathStone Development Corporation took the old Sears department store at the former Irondequoit Mall and turned it into affordable housing for seniors.

It’s called Skyview Park Apartments. The Sears was converted into 73 units. A new four-story building was added with another 84 apartments. This is for people 55 and up earning at or below 60% of the area median income.

Half of the apartments are reserved for people at risk of homelessness who will get on-site services provided by Rochester General Hospital’s ElderONE program. A lot of the partners in this project believe this type of development will become a model for the country.

"This is a vision. This is more than just opening a housing unit. This is comprehensive care. This is comprehensive wellness. This is about community economics and a real amazing feat," said Rochester Regional Health Executive Vice President Bridgette Wiefling, MD.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the old Irondequoit Mall was the subject of neglect and controversy in town for years.

"We turned this property around and this property has gone from something that was taking from our residents to something that’s giving back," said Bello.

It’s not just apartments. There are three open-air courtyards with community gardening space, grilling areas, a fitness room, and a community room at the Skyview Park Apartments.

The price tag for all this? $44.3 million. State financing included $4.9 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $12.3 million in equity and an additional $23 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided $134,200 in support. The town of Irondequoit contributed a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant award and Monroe County contributed a $100,000 HOME award.

The old Irondequoit Mall now has housing and a 41,000-square-foot community center for recreation and youth and senior programming. It’s also home to Rochester Regional Health’s Isabella Graham Hart School of Nursing.

With all the changes in the past few decades, a lot of communities are looking at ways like this to re-imagine retail space.

"Transforming the long-vacant Irondequoit Mall into new homes for seniors is an important investment that will benefit the community for years to come," Governor Kathy Hochul said. "The entire Skyview project underscores the potential that exists with under-utilized commercial properties and how they can be repurposed to benefit residents and businesses in our communities."