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Renovations to Thurston Road Apartments Gives New Hope to Residents

After living for years in abhorrent living conditions, tenants at 447 Thurston Road and 971 Chili Avenue in Downtown Rochester, NY, finally got to return home to clean and safe homes after both facilities were completely gutted and renovated.

Original Conditions at Thurston Road Building

Before Home Leasing purchased the buildings in March 2019, tenants lived in a self-described “dump” with collapsed ceilings, crumbling walls, peeling paint, backed-up sewage, vermin problems and severe safety risks. Eventually they had enough, and teamed with the City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester, NY to help them fight and get public attention for adequate living conditions.

Their fight paid off when Home Leasing took notice and helped to secure state grants, local funding and city support to pay for the $11 million renovation project.

HUNT had the privilege of working with Home Leasing and the City of Rochester to provide the architectural and engineering services for the project, renovating 60 apartments between the two buildings.

During construction, displaced residents were housed in neighboring facilities at no cost, and to eliminate any financial burden on returning tenants, the newly renovated units will continue to have the same rent and utility prices.

Tenants who are returning are getting new modern appliances and fixtures, in-house laundry facilities, and security features that will ensure the comfort and safety of all residents.

Completed Apartments at Thurston Road Building

Mary Brown, one of the first tenant advocates who began fighting last year, was in awe seeing the new apartments. “It’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous,” she said, “this makes me see that my work was not in vain”.

The Thurston Road Apartments include a Home Leasing office and conference room that can be utilized by residents as well. In a unique arrangement, Home Leasing has provided office and counseling spaces to Spiritus Christi, a community service organization for building and neighborhood outreach. This program includes temporary housing units and safe-haven programming for those returning from prison and those struggling with mental health diseases.

When asked what Home Leasing and HUNT did to the two buildings, Home Leasing CEO Bret Garwood said, “It’s easier to say what we didn’t do! It’s completely transformed”.

Neighbors have also expressed their excitement with the renovated buildings as they hope it will encourage other property owners to raise the bar and fuel future development in the community.

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