As new residents of St. Salome Apartments, senior-living housing on the campus of St. Salome Church in Irondequoit, Al and Theresa Fantauzzo say it would be nearly impossible to make going to Mass more convenient.
"We pushed the walker out the back door, and the church was right there," Al Fantauzzo remarked.
The Fantauzzos listed convenience as one reason why they are pleased with their new home. They helped show it off during a March 20 open house of the finished apartment building, which features 39 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments and six attached patio homes. The affordable housing is for seniors with incomes of less than half of the area median, with seven units earmarked for the frail elderly and eight for people on the Rochester Housing Authority’s waiting list.
The apartments were built on the L-shaped footprint of the former St. Salome School, which was razed for the project. The St. Salome rectory also was demolished to make room for parking, and the parish convent was demolished to allow construction of the patio homes. Though the buildings were torn down, reproductions of historical pictures from St. Salome’s archives were hung in the hallways of the new complex, noted Sandy Doran, St. Salome’s archivist.
The property’s developer and project management company is Providence Housing Development Corp., an affiliate of diocesan Catholic Charities.
The project was completed within its $8.6 million budget and ahead of schedule, said Monica McCullough, executive director of Providence Housing. All the project's units were rented by the end of March -- three months ahead of schedule, McCullough said.
"We’re very happy -- happy to do it and happy it’s open," she said.
St. Salome’s parishioners prayed for the project for nearly 10 years, said parishioner Dan Aureli, a member of the committee working on the project. Parish officials have said that Providence applied five times for state and local affordable-housing funding for the project before the project was approved.
"I didn’t look any parishioners in the eye because things weren’t looking so good," Aureli remarked.
Yet faith and perseverance helped the project prevail, he said.
"When I drive by, I just burst into the biggest smile," he said.
Irondequoit Town Supervisor Mary Ellen Heyman said it was hard for her to imagine what a new building constructed upon the footprint of the old school would look like. The result exceeded her expectations, she said.
"It’s absolutely fabulous," Heyman said of the new building. "I’m so proud to have a small part of this, and I think it’s a great addition to our community. It’s wonderful that our seniors can live in a safe environment like this."
The complex also won positive reviews from its new residents.
"I love it so far," said new resident Lena Doyle. "I have no complaints."
The Fantauzzos, parishioners of Rochester's Holy Apostles Church, found out about the apartment complex from their daughter-in-law, Susan Fantauzzo, a parishioner of St. Salome.
"If you are looking for nice quietness, and friendly management, this is the place," Al Fantauzzo said.
"It’s beautiful," his wife added.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Another Providence Housing Development Corp. senior housing project that was proposed for Irondequoit will instead be built off of Lyell Avenue in Gates and could be considered soon by the Town of Gates, according to Providence's executive director Monica McCullough. Atwood Park Apartments is projected to include 33 units, and it would house seniors ages 62 and older with incomes of less than half of the area median.