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Featured Building - May 2021

Photo Credit: 9x30 Design

Four mostly vacant and neglected buildings along the Erie Canal in the Village of Fairport provided an opportunity to bring this waterfront property up to its full potential. One goal of the project was to create housing that would inspire long-term residency and the possibility of future condominiums or townhomes, encouraging new residents to become a vital part of the existing community. Other goals were to add parking, greenspace, and a connection to the canal.

The project proforma required additional square footage to be economically viable. The solution to this was designing one additional story over each of the three larger commercial buildings. This created a design opportunity in which the entire look of the campus could be transformed by giving each structure a new “hat.” This also allowed for water views from these buildings which had originally turned their backs on the canal. Open space was reconfigured to add additional parking spaces, new garages, and additional landscaped areas.

The developer worked with the NYS Canal Authority and the Village to improve the canal bank and to finally complete the public access path along canal between the residential neighborhood and the village commercial district. The canal improvements include public docks and a seasonal small watercraft boat launch. The final design includes eighteen apartments, most with private entrances and an outdoor space such as a roof deck, balcony, or terrace, that overlooks the Erie Canal.

While 17 Roselawn was initially seen as a possible café site along the canal, and 56 West Ave was originally planned to be a single-family residence with home business, the demand for new, luxury rentals was higher and won out in the end, with one leasable commercial space in 56 West Ave currently occupied by a salon business.

AIA Framework for Design Excellence:

Design for Ecology:

This change-of-use project converted under-utilized commercial space into a functional transition between a residential neighborhood and the Village commercial district. The density of the project is compatible with neighboring properties, while offering an improved pedestrian connection between residential and commercial areas and public canal access. The new residential units are designed to promote outdoor living with private spaces overlooking the canal and direct access to the waterway via pedestrian/biking path, dock, and boat launch.

Design for Economy:

Matching the construction budget with the quality of living the developer wished to provide occupants was challenging from the beginning. These challenges were overcome by accessing un-used structural capacity of the existing buildings that allowed additional stories to be built; maximizing useable tenant square footage by providing the majority of apartments with private exterior entrances, significantly reducing shared circulation space; and energy-efficient design including insulated metal panel siding and thermal envelope improvements that allowed for a reduction in HVAC unit sizing.

Design for Change:

The end uses of several of the tenant spaces changed function many times throughout the design and construction processes, as the team worked to determine the current market demands and anticipate future needs. For example, the small stand-alone residence at 17 Roselawn has infrastructure available for a future conversion to a wine bar or cafe with direct public access on the canal side, as well as a master plan for a commercial kitchen and ADA ramp. 54 West Ave, having 10 apartments (5 terrace level flats and 5 two-story units) was designed for future conversion to town homes or condominiums with minimal code required changes. 56 West Ave, which is currently built as one large two story residential unit, a live-work unit, and a commercial space is easily adaptable into four residential units, a single-family residence, or a restaurant with residential units above.

Owner: 43 North Real Estate

Design Consultant: Tom Johnson

Structural Engineer: Jayce Grefrath, PE

Contractor: Bace Build

Project Team: Christopher A. Costanza, AIA, LEED AP; Amanda Everson Costanza, AIA, LEED AP

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