Dan Cappellazzo

The Jason Gwilt Memorial Senior Apartments answers multiple community needs, including being home to the most vulnerable residents in Verona, New York.

The 50-unit development serves seniors earning no more than 50% of the area median income (AMI), including 15 permanent supportive housing units for frail, formerly homeless seniors earning less than 30% of the AMI. The property is also home to a new senior center that serves the larger rural community.

Dan Cappellazzo

To develop the property, Norstar Development USA and the City of Oneida Housing Authority repurposed the long vacant Sylvan & Verona Beach Elementary School. The transformation involved the substantial rehabilitation of the one-story school as well as the construction of new additions and a second floor.

“The property has gone from serving school children to serving the senior population of the community, ensuring a bright new future for a longtime community asset,” says Brian Sarama, senior project manager at Norstar, crediting a collaboration between the housing authority and the Parkway Center of Utica for bringing new housing and services to an area that lacked both.

The team adapted 17,000 square feet of the existing school building into a senior center to provide valuable services, including health programming and recreational opportunities, for the area’s elderly population.

Located close to Oneida Lake and bordered by Verona Beach State Park, the project is also important for the larger community, effectively turning around a blighted site into a source of pride.

Named in memory of a former student of the old school, the $15.5 million development, which is owned by the housing authority, is supported by multiple sources of financing, including low-income housing tax credits and state and local funding.