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IDA hears plans for old Silver Creek high school

Plans are moving forward to convert an old dilapidated school building into a new home for senior citizens in Northern Chautauqua County.

The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency has started process to give financial assistance to Region 9 UAW Housing Corp. as it converts the former Silver Creek High School into senior housing.

During the county IDA board meeting last month, Mark Conroe, director of development for Region UAW Housing Corporation, discussed the project. He noted Region 9, a not-for-profit, was formed in 1970 initially to support united autoworkers labor union. Today it provides affordable housing for low and moderate income seniors, persons with disabilities and families. “Region 9 is committed to the principle of aging in place, ensuring opportunities for our residents, to live independently, with dignity and self determination, in a community with their peers,” he said.

According to Conroe, Region Nine owns and manages almost 1,200 affordable housing units in 10 communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This is their first project in New York state.

In Silver Creek, Region 9 wants to convert the former high school, which has been vacant since 1978, into a facility for low income individuals ages 62 and up.

Conroe noted the building is in extremely poor condition. Portions of the roof and the right side of the building have deteriorated extensively and have collapsed.

It has been a site of vandalism over the years. The renovation will address an eyesore in the community and remove hazardous materials, including asbestos and lead paint.

The nearly 100-year-old building would be converted into 47 apartments. The complex will be three stories tall with an elevator. Forty six of the 47 apartments will be one bedroom units. “The primary goal is to provide seniors an opportunity to live independently in Silver Creek and to age in place, rather than have to move to other geographies or types of living facilities,” Conroe said.

He noted the project will be designed with a number of features to support the needs of seniors as they age. Some of those things include a community kitchen, exercise room, computer room, as well as outdoor patio space, benches and gardens.

People Inc. will provide support services for the facility.

According to Conroe, the overall cost of the project is $24 million. He noted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded them a $4.4 million grant and they will soon be applying for two other grants. They hope to be notified in the spring \. “If awarded the tax credits we’ll be able to start construction in December of ’22 with an estimated completion date of June of 2024,” he said.

The Chautauqua County Legislature sold the former school building to Region 9 this past spring for $1. Conroe said they also met with the Silver Creek Planning Board, which has approved the project. They plan to hold a community meeting Nov. 16.

According to county IDA officials, Region 9 is seeking a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement. Board members unanimously approved a “due diligence resolution” which is required before a PILOT agreement can be approved.

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