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Beacon Communities, State & Local Officials, Rome Housing Authority Cut Ribbon on Completed Renovation of New York’s First Carbon-neutral Public Housing Building

March 11, 2024





Colonial II Project’s Energy-Efficient Design Supports State’s Ambitious Climate Goals, Will Preserve Affordability Across 74 Homes So Vulnerable Tenants Can Remain in their Community


ROME, NY (Friday, March 8, 2024) – Beacon Communities, one of the nation’s leading affordable housing firms; state and local officials; and the Rome Housing Authority gathered today for a ribbon cutting that celebrated the completion of Colonial II in Rome, NY – a $40 million renovation designed to be the state’s first carbon-neutral public housing development.

“The rehabilitation of Colonial II Apartments preserves a vital community asset and exemplifies our dedication to the development of zero-carbon buildings across the State through the use of modern solutions like geothermal heating and on-site solar energy,” said Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “This development, which improves the quality of life for 74 seniors and people with disabilities in Oneida County, underscores our collective efforts towards a greener, more inclusive future for all New Yorkers. Congratulations to the Rome Housing Authority and Beacon Communities for ensuring that Colonial remains a safe, comfortable, and affordable place to call home.”

“Visionary projects like Colonial II are creating New York’s carbon-neutral future by upgrading buildings to be healthy, energy efficient, and more comfortable spaces for families to live and work in,” said Susanne DesRoches, Vice President of Clean and Resilient Buildings at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). “NYSERDA is proud to have contributed to the success of this project as part of our Buildings of Excellence Competition – a key initiative helping New York State to transform our communities one building at time.”

The renovation at Colonial II at 310 Cottage St., which broke ground in June of 2022, converted 99 units of public housing into a 74 apartments reserved for seniors and individuals living with a disability. Improvements included:

  • Electrified building systems
  • Installation of geothermal-sourced high-efficiency heat pumps to replace gas boiler system
  • A small on-site solar field and connection to community solar
  • Increased unit sizes
  • Replacement of the brick façade with a panel system to improve temperature control and decrease overall energy usage, which allowed for retrofit of the existing building in a time and cost-effective manner to minimize resident displacement
  • Structural upgrades to common areas, including a new mailroom and updated community room
  • Creation of seven ADA accessible units
  • Creation of two hearing and site impaired units

“The Rome Housing Authority is proud to be at the forefront of improving energy efficiency in public housing, which will help the state meet its clean energy goals while reducing utility costs for tenants,” said Maureen Birmingham, Executive Director of the Rome Housing Authority.” This multi-stage renovation project has transformed and modernized Colonial II, making it a model for similar buildings statewide. I greatly appreciate all the work that went into this project and particularly thank the tenants for their patience and flexibility. The results have been worth the wait!”

Financing for Colonial II was made possible through a RAD/Section 18 Conversion with 4 percent tax credits from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Work began in March 2022, and construction was completed in January 2024.

The project was awarded $1 million through the Buildings of Excellence Competition due to its cutting-edge carbon-neutral design that demonstrates the replicable panelized exterior wall replacement while providing comfortable and healthy living spaces to the occupant. In addition, the project received $296,000 of financial incentives from the Multifamily New Construction Program, and $194,740 from NY-Sun, all administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

“About four years ago, we did an internal presentation for our development team on our Buildings of Excellence application for Colonial II, and I remember listening to it and thinking how audacious it was,” said Josh Cohen, President of Beacon Communities Development. “I was impressed, excited, and thrilled that our company was going to be part of something so cutting-edge. We’re incredibly proud of this achievement and for being able to improve this building – not only for today’s residents, who were patient in living through a difficult period of construction, especially on this scale, but also for the residents of the future. I am grateful to the entire team for making this possible.”

“The investment in this project is significant and important and demonstrates how we can make these types of changes and transformations to provide safe, affordable housing for all segments of the population in our communities,” said state Senator Joseph Griffo, who represents the 53rd Senate District. “The renovation of Colonial II will re-energize not only this building, but this entire community, renewing and reimagining what we can do to provide energy-efficient and welcoming places for residents to call home.”

“What has transpired here is a wonderful transition and transformation,” said Rome Mayor Jeffrey Lanigan. “I want to say ‘thank-you’ to all the partners who were involved in this project – particularly the residents who were so patient and now have a wonderful place to call home. This is not only great for them, but for our entire community. When people are looking to move here, they can look to Colonial II and see proof of the commitment we have and what we have to offer. Let’s continue to grow!”

The Colonial II project is a collaboration between Beacon Communities and the Rome Housing Authority with a development team including RIDA Architecture, PLLC; Staengl Engineering; Active Solar Development; L&S Energy, Stacks Resilience and New Ecology Inc. The property builds on the success of the Colonial I rehabilitation, completed in 2019, that created 83 energy-efficient affordable homes and upgraded a 1966 Rome Housing Authority building.

“Hudson is proud to have been part of five developments with the Rome Housing Authority – all of them great projects,” said Kimmel Cameron, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions, Hudson Housing Capital. “I know the residents had some pain getting here, but they ended up with a great place to live. We were happy to be working with Beacon, which is right up there at the top of the innovation list. We’re looking forward to being involved in more sustainable projects like this. The renovation of properties is a lot more efficient than building new, which is important, too, but it’s critical to preserve the buildings that we have.”

“These high-quality residences will transform the lives of tenants, and we know that wouldn’t be possible without collaboration,” said David Vega, Executive Director & Area Manager (Western & Central New York), Chase Bank. “This project is a true testament to the power of partnership and community commitment, and we at Chase are committed to financing projects like this into the future.”

For more information, or to request still photos, please contact Liz Benjamin,, 518-424-0356.



About Beacon Communities LLC: 

Beacon Communities LLC is a privately-owned real estate firm that develops, acquires, invests in, and manages a wide range of multi-family housing. Their portfolio includes affordable housing, market rate housing and mixed income-housing. Their developments range from new construction to historic adaptive reuse to the renovation of existing housing. They take on challenging developments and make them succeed. Their driving passion is to create well-designed, healthy homes that improve the quality of life of their residents and enhance the neighborhoods in which they are located. For more information about Beacon Communities LLC please visit


About NYSERDA’s Buildings of Excellence:

The Buildings of Excellence Competition, launched in March 2019, is a $58 million initiative that has awarded 56 exemplary multifamily new construction demonstration projects to date. It is the only competition of its kind, with the awarded projects becoming part of a comprehensive data collection effort that will help determine how to cost-effectively deliver superior performing buildings that will serve as an essential building block of a carbon-neutral future and advance the design and construction of multifamily buildings. Within the initiative, $2 million in Early Design Support funding has been awarded to architecture and design firms to enhance capabilities to design toward carbon neutral standards. The Competition is administered by NYSERDA with the support of an advisory council comprising a cross-section of experts from the design, real estate and sustainability sectors with partners including American Institute of Architects New York State, ASHRAE and The Real Estate Board of New York. For a complete list of the winning projects statewide, please visit NYSERDA’s Buildings of Excellence website at

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