A site once known as one of the oldest manufacturing plants in Rochester, N.Y., is finding new recognition as a historically rehabbed apartment development, thanks to DePaul Properties, SWBR Architects, and a lot of community support.

The five-story Cunningham Carriage Factory was renamed the DePaul Carriage Factory Apartments after undergoing a $23 million restoration to become 71 units of affordable housing for residents earning below 50% of the area median income.

“The James Cunningham name was revered all over the world as makers of high-quality transportation vehicles, from coaches and carriages to airplanes,” says Joe Gibbons, AIA, principal at SWBR Architects. “As we repurposed this building, we wanted to pay special attention to respecting its historic identity while connecting its proposed use to the future of the local community.”

Accordingly, a loading dock added to the building in the 1980s was removed from where the original building once housed the main paint shop. This area then became the main lobby and community spaces for the apartment building. The existing flooring, which contained asbestos, was salvaged as much as possible and repurposed as accent décor. Framed drawings of the original carriages adorn the halls of the new community.

The project was made possible with financing through historic tax credits, brownfield tax credits, and low-income housing tax credits. Community support was also key in making the apartment project a success. Full-time mental and social services are available on-site for residents through local organizations.

The apartments were 100% leased in 30 days, and more than 60 applications were on the waiting list as of press time.