Local partners visit Asteri Ithaca and celebrate Ithaca Arthaus anniversary.

Just taking in the view from the twelfth-floor community lounge, it’s clear how far affordable housing has come for Tompkins County—and partners that made it possible were on-hand to see it.

On January 9th members of the national supportive housing developer Vecino Group welcomed local partners to view the progress on Asteri Ithaca and to join an anniversary celebration at Ithaca Arthaus.

“Each of these projects is responding to the dire need of affordable and permanent supportive housing in our community,” commended outgoing Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis. “Thank you to Vecino for their great work and for making a difference in the city of Ithaca”.

First, the group walked the site of Asteri Ithaca, which is nearing completion. Nestled in the heart of downtown, the 12-story high-rise is the first affordable community of its kind for the Southern Tier region of New York State. Designed to impact the housing need, Asteri will provide 181 units of affordable housing—40 of which are permanent supportive housing units dedicated to persons exiting homelessness. A robust mixed-use development, in addition to housing and resident amenities it features on-site supportive services, ground-level commercial spaces (including Cinemapolis theater), multi-level public parking, and a conference center.

Representatives of the City of Ithaca, service partners Tompkins Community Action, Continuum of Care leadership, as well as the Vecino Group were given a guided tour by Bruce Adib-Yazdi, Vecino Group VP of Development. Attendees were able to see first-hand the progress on the upper-floor units and amenity spaces, as well as gain unique insight into the planning and attention-to-detail a development this multifaceted requires.

“The story of Asteri Ithaca goes all the way back to some initial conversations in 2018. And there have been many, many conversations throughout to get us here: state, county and city partners, local resident and services partners, neighboring businesses and developments,” said Adib-Yazdi. “Our team is extremely proud of Asteri—and we can’t wait for this to open later this year.”

Later in the evening, partners gathered at Ithaca Arthaus to join residents in celebrating the development’s two-year anniversary. When opened along with partners TC Action and Cherry Arts—the non-profit art collective who office and operate a performing arts space onsite—the development marked a significant milestone in Ithaca’s ongoing commitment to permanent supportive housing initiatives. Also noteworthy: 2024 begins with Vecino Management, LLC taking over all management duties for Arthaus—in addition to all Vecino properties in New York State.

“Every property is unique. When we took over management of Arthaus at the end of last year, we listened to our residents and the community in Ithaca on where we might improve,” said Sue Ellen Holmes, VP of Vecino Management. “Delivering for our residents is the ultimate goal, and through some focused communication and policy updates we’ve already felt a positive impact.”

Now accepting leasing applications, a positive impact is what Asteri will soon deliver as well. And impact is what differentiates Vecino and their work from other developers—even other affordable housing ones. “When Asteri opens, we’ll not only provide accessibility to affordable homes for folks,” says Heather Bradley-Geary, Director of Supportive Housing for Vecino Group, “but will also end homelessness for 40 people in the area. In some instances, this is not only a life-changing moment for a resident—it might even be lifesaving.”

 “Developments like these only succeed with the right team—and luckily Vecino is part of one with the City of Ithaca, Tompkins Community Action and all of our local partners,” Bradley-Geary shared. ”We appreciate everyone’s work and dedication to bring Asteri Ithaca to life.”