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February 12, 2011

Construction workers are seeking to ready the lofts for occupation by the end of February. “It’s hard to visualize, but it’s going to be really great,” said Gloria Kreitzberg of Rochester, who was “window shopping” with friend Kathi Willis. Developer Patrick Duffon, 33, said he hoped the launch party, which drew between 600 and 700 guests, would move the project past the halfway mark into a sellout for young professionals and empty nesters looking for a lifestyle that could put them within walking distance of work, sports and cultural activities.

Duffon and business partner Stephen Kiner saw the potential of 1 Capron St., a vacant 1905-era warehouse with 40,000 square feet. It’s steps from Geva Theatre and not much farther from much of downtown. When they’re done with what has been a two-year project, there will be 19 one- and two-bedroom units with a variety of floor plans, as well as a restaurant on the first floor. The average price is around $250,000, Duffon said. Capron Street Lofts and other developments have combined to create more than 500 units downtown in the last five years, said Bret Garwood, director of the city’s Bureau of Business and Housing Development. He said more than 400 housing units are in the pipeline, and their cumulative impact will aid in solidifying downtown as a place to live and work. “It continues this very strong trend of taking underutilized, vacant buildings and repurposing them as housing,” Garwood said. According to the city, Capron Street Lofts is a $4 million project. It received $1.1 million in Restore New York funds from Empire State Development Corp. “We’ve found it difficult to make progress to create owner-occupied housing,” Garwood said. “This development can accomplish that with prices reachable to a larger range of people.”

ReMax real estate broker Jeremias Maneiro said the Capron Street Lofts fill a niche that many other luxury lofts downtown do not. “There’s a lot of luxury rentals in the downtown area, but not many options available if you want to purchase,” he said. For buyer Jason Schwingle, the opportunity to own made the difference. Schwingle, 32, said he was disciplined with his finances for the past two years so that he could move beyond being a renter. “In your 20s, there’s this exploratory phase you have to go through where you bounce around and figure out what you like,” said Schwingle, an in-flight operations manager for JetBlue Airways. He did this while living in sought-after areas including Williamsburg in Brooklyn and the East Village in Manhattan. But Rochester’s affordability and his local roots brought Schwingle back. “Those are some great neighborhoods, but it’s so expensive,” he said of New York City. “What you pay there will go a lot further here.”


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