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Housing to serve artists

Rochester Business Journal
January 23, 2015

A $12 million housing development for artists called the Market Apartments at Corpus Christi is being built by Rochester-based Conifer Realty LLC. The real estate development, construction and management firm is building the apartments at the site of the former Corpus Christi school on East Main Street in the city’s Market Neighborhood.

Conifer owns and manages more than 14,000 apartment units throughout New York, including the 200 East Avenue Apartments downtown—as well as in Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Andrew Crossed, Conifer’s executive vice president, said they originally planned on developing the property for senior housing, but switched gears two years ago to focus on a live, work and create space for local artists.

“We thought there was a need here,” said Crossed, noting the site’s location is well-suited given its spot in the city’s theater district, by the Auditorium Theatre, Main Street Armory and the Neighborhood of the Arts, and its proximity to Village Gate and the public market.

Construction started in June and is expected to be completed in late winter. An April 1 opening is targeted.

Crossed, who grew up in the neighborhood and attended youth group at the Corpus Christi building, said Conifer purchased the site about six years ago from the Diocese of Rochester. It had been mostly vacant for 20 years and completely empty for the past decade. The church next door is still operating.

There will be 42 one- and two-bedroom apartments for rent ranging in price from $516 to $738 a month. The one-bedroom units are 700 square feet; the two-bedroom units are 980 square feet.

The complex is to feature amenities such as energy-efficient appliances, a fitness center, computer work stations, an elevator and on-site parking.

The project is a mix of renovating the current structure and adding new space there. Conifer is also building a 2,800-square-foot loft-style building behind the main structure for artist work space. Crossed said the firm also is working on securing some music space in the church rectory next door.

The Market Apartments at Corpus Christi is accepting applications and already has garnered interest, said Sandra Gorie, Conifer’s vice president of marketing and communications.

Anyone may apply for residency, but there is a rental preference for income-qualified applicants who participate in the arts. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they are currently working towards specific goals in at least one genre, such as fine arts, dance, theatre, photography, writing, craft, music, spoken word and graphic arts.

An advisory board has been created to review applications and give preference to working artists, Crossed said.

The site is similar to housing projects conceived by Artspace Projects Inc., a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization that has built artist housing in locations including Brooklyn, Buffalo and Long Island. Artspace consulted Conifer on how to conduct the marketing research for the project, Crossed said.

Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of the Rochester Downtown Development Corp., said although the site is not located in the downtown district her organization works to help develop, any such project has the potential to spur growth throughout the city.

“Something that strengthens our neighborhoods and the city is a good thing,” she said.

1/16/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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