Triangle Neighborhood Releases Unique Video Series

The Triangle neighborhood, bordered by Culver, Merchants, and East Main Street, is a unique and vibrant area nestled within larger North Winton Village. The area is known by residents, business owners, and visitors as “rich with Rochester essence and flavor”—architecturally charming yet affordable to first-time homebuyers, walkable and bikeable, and home to Rochester landmarks: the last cobblestone house, James Brown’s Place, and L&M Lanes. This past summer, with support from NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks initiative and a Pride in Place grant from NeighborWorks® America, the Triangle created three professional-quality neighborhood showcase videos: Home & Community, Relax & Play, and Neighborhood Schools. The videos are the first of their kind to be made by any Rochester neighborhood.

The Home & Community video features both long-time and newer Triangle residents. Zirrus, a Garson Avenue resident, features “diversity, friendliness, and activity” as the three standout qualities of the Triangle. Melville Street dweller Mikey mentions how accepting the neighborhood is compared to other areas in the City, and Joyce from Garson Avenue points out the Triangle’s proximity to “everything we could possibly want”. Walkability and safety are also prominently featured. Check out the video here: www.thetriangleroc.org/community

Relax & Play features local Triangle businesses, both well-known and under-the-radar. James Brown of James Brown’s Place diner, John Savino of Johnny’s Irish Pub, and Gary Stubbings of L&M Lanes give interviews; other staples such as Nino’s Pizzeria, Merchants Grill, and the East Main Salvatore’s (the local chain’s oldest location) also make an appearance. The short film is a great reminder that not only is the Triangle a great place to live, but it is also a destination for visitors looking to eat, drink, and be entertained—from Rochester and beyond! Watch Relax & Play here: www.thetriangleroc.org/merchants

The film about Neighborhood Schools tackles a question often sidestepped in discussions of revitalization in the City of Rochester: is it possible for kids in the Rochester City School District to get a good, competitive education? RocCity Coalition Education Team member Kevin Kelley says yes! The solution is that “people need to be educated…about the quality of [the] options.” While the message remains options—private, public, and charter—the content of the video focuses on two schools proximate to Triangle neighborhood, Frank Fowler Dow School No. 52 and East High School. The film emphasizes the schools’ assets—such as School 52’s strong community and good test scores and East High’s career preparation tracks through the University of Rochester—while also highlighting benefits of the RCSD as a whole, such as scholarships available to the U of R and RIT. Look here: www.thetrianglroc.org/education

In the few months since their release, the videos have already gathered over 4,500 views and received acclaim from a wide variety of organizations, including Celebrate City Living, who are exploring how other neighborhoods can undertake similar projects. All three videos, plus a 30-second trailer, were filmed and edited by videographer Justin Freeman, a North Winton Village resident. Interviews were conducted by Monica Finger, who coordinates NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks initiative. To learn more about the Triangle, please visit www.thetriangleroc.org or check out their Facebook page for regular updates: www.facebook.com/TriangleofNWV.

First Annual Cobbleween a Smashing Success!

If you’ve spent much time in the Triangle neighborhood, you’ll know that one of its major sources of pride is the last-standing cobblestone house in the City of Rochester, located at Culver Road and Grand Avenue. The house, built in the mid-1800s, suffers from both a mid-19th century addition on the south side (somewhat unattractive) and a large plaza built adjacent on the north side (very unattractive). Nonetheless, although it has been vacant for over a decade, the structural integrity of the cobblestone walls has remained, and so has the neighborhood’s interest in the property’s revitalization. The scoop: the owner is now in conversation with the Landmark Society (who included the property on their 2015 “Five to Revive” list) and a potential developer to rehabilitate and reoccupy the building, perhaps into a mixed-use or commercial gathering space (when last occupied, it was a four-family residential).

Exciting as these developments are, it is no excuse to ignore the property—and its large, paved lot—in the meantime! With support and funding from the Healthy Blocks initiative at NeighborWorks® Rochester, ground was recently broken on the Culver-facing side of the cobblestone for a new public micropark. The space—which will feature a seating area, trees, and low-maintenance perennials and shrubs in addition to a large grassy area—will serve both as a face-lift on the Culver Road streetscape and a resting and gathering place that improves the overall walk-ability of this gateway artery through the Triangle and Beechwood neighborhoods.

House and park aside, what better way to gather the neighborhood around the property in a positive way than a holiday where families are already outside en masse regardless of weather—Halloween, of course! The first annual Cobbleween, originally invented as a playful nod to the “zombie” condition of the house, happened October 31st 2017 from 6-8 PM and was a huge success. Cobbleween, planned and executed by the Triangle neighborhood group with support from Healthy Blocks, featured music, decorations, pumpkin painting, face painting, free donuts, cider, and coffee, the Rochester Mounted Police, outside games, a costume photo booth, giveaways, and tons of candy! Businesses and organizations from within and outside the Triangle pitched in to make in-kind donations, including Lowe’s, Mayer Cider Mill, St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Donuts DeLite, Elite House of Hair Fashions, New City Café, NeighborWorks® Rochester, the Landmark Society, Broccolo Tree & Lawn, Merchants Grill, and the Healthi Kids Coalition. For more great pictures from the event and to follow what’s happening in the Triangle Neighborhood, follow the Triangle Facebook Page.

 

What and where, is Healthy Blocks?

Swillburg Neighborhood Branded Street Signs

Focusing on strengthening assets, Healthy Blocks works to improve resident confidence. This leads to their greater economic and social re-investment to improve the neighborhood’s image, encouraging homebuyer interest and supporting long-term residency. NeighborWorks® Rochester’s other lines of business also contribute to the success of Health Blocks; for example, home improvement loans are offered to all Healthy Blocks neighborhoods, past and present, for a further reduced rate and with a waived application fee. Healthy Blocks measures its impact through tracking house sale data (including asking and sales prices and days on market) and taking resident confidence and property conditions surveys in years one, three, and five. Our “legacy neighborhoods” and the projects organized by Healthy Blocks are:

Swillburg Neighborhood (2005-2010)

  • Implemented a “unifier” project to visually connect the area – decorative house plaques with the Swillburg logo, still in use today
  • Organized a ‘group purchase’ of driveway replacements for homeowners and landlords, which came at a discount from the contractor
  • Helped residents plan and build a gazebo in Otto Henderberg Park, used for concerts and social events
  • Installed branded gateway signage around the entrances to the neighborhood, giving Swillburg a distinct “district” feel
  • Saw the average house price increase from $48,000 to its more historic value of $82,000 by the end of the Healthy Blocks term
  • Membership in the Swillburg Neighborhood Association increase by more than 40% and resident participation in social activities increase by 20%
  • Realtor’s Association uses the name “Swillburg” when selling property in the area

Brooks Landing Neighborhood (2007-2013)

  • Helped organize annual community skate parties at the Genesee Valley Park skating rink
  • Held a barbecue and music event at the University of Rochester footbridge for students and community members
  • Implemented 10 Makeover Madness matching grants for residents for exterior home improvements
  • Held an pop-up art gallery on Genesee St. for First Friday featuring neighborhood artists
  • Planted over 200 perennial plants in the spring of 2012, and over 300 daffodil and tulip bulbs in the fall

 The Pocket Neighborhood LogoThe Pocket Neighborhood (2008-2013)

    • Launched an identity/marketing campaign using the residents’ choice of name, “The Pocket”, including logo creation and street banners along Atlantic Ave.
    • Organized the installation of colorful, artistic crosswalks along Atlantic and E. Main designed by a local artist and painted by residents
    • Helped to create a community garden on a vacant lot on Heinrich St. and organized its further expansion later by adding six new raised beds, constructing three new public sitting benches, and planting over 400 daffodil bulbs
    • Installed over 200 matching house plaques, over 75% of the neighborhood
    • The average sale price per square foot of homes increase over 20% between 2008 and 2012 

The Triangle Neighborhood (2014-present)

  • Launched the initiative in 2014 with a “Taste of the Triangle” party drawing over 150 participants and engaging residents, local businesses, and community partners
  • Installed four artistic bike racks at the Culver-Merchants Point created by local metal fabricators
  • Completed a branding campaign including the neighborhood’s name, logo, brand statement, and website that has begun to be used widely around Rochester
  • Designed, printed, and began distributing Welcome Wagon packets and gifts to new neighbors in the Triangle
  • Held multiple social events including three pub crawls featuring Triangle Merchants Association member businesses and a pop-up First Friday gallery in a vacant commercial space with partners from Gallery Q and Image Out
  • Helped to form and engage a Triangle planning group that meets monthly
  • Between 2014-2016, average home sale prices, resident confidence, feelings of safety, and ‘house proud’ levels all improved significantly
  • Other community projects, including gateway signage, a mural, and micropark at the Cobblestone house are underway

NeighborWorks® Rochester Chosen for Pilot Health Study

Mom and daughterNeighborWorks® Rochester actively remains current on trends and research in the field of community development through specific Community Initiatives, including the intersection of housing and health. According to the Healthcare Intelligence Network, “Evidence is mounting that social determinants of health—social, economic and environmental factors that impact quality of life—significantly influence population health. Research published by Brigham Young University in 2015 determined that the social determinants of loneliness and social isolation pose as great a threat to longevity as obesity. Cognizant of the need to promote social and physical environments conducive to optimal health, more than two-thirds of healthcare organizations now assess populations for social determinants of health (SDOH) as part of ongoing care management.”[1]

Because of attention focused on health outcomes both from community partners and from funders, it is increasingly necessary for community development organizations to demonstrate that their programming makes an impact on the SDOH of their target populations in a way that measurably improves health outcomes over time. With support from organizations including the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners and NeighborWorks® America launched a Health Outcomes Demonstration Pilot in order to “build organizations’ capacity to evaluate the health outcomes of their work through a national cohort, building the body of evidence demonstrating housing and community development’s contribution to improved health outcomes.”[2] Only 20 organizations were awarded the opportunity to participate, which includes technical assistance, grant support, peer-to-peer learning, and most importantly, access to a comprehensive set of data collection tools that were developed and tested by Success Measures to measure health outcomes of programs and initiatives on the populations they serve.

NeighborWorks® Rochester was awarded a slot in the Pilot to evaluate Healthy Blocks, its creative neighborhood-strengthening initiative that makes a five-year commitment to a neighborhood (in this case, the Triangle) in transition with the goals of improving property conditions, resident engagement, and neighborhood image. Healthy Blocks staff worked with a consultant to develop an evaluation that focuses on the SDOH upon which the projects, events, and other elements of Healthy Blocks have the most direct effect; namely, social cohesion (community efficacy, inter-resident trust, participation, etc.). The Healthy Blocks initiative is a more complicated endeavor to evaluation compared with other service-providing programs that have more direct and specific contact and service delivery to participants. Because the initiative is designed to work in tandem with market forces and measures its success based resident satisfaction, block conditions, and rising home values (all of which have a wide variety of confounding variables), it is with caution that we attribute improvements in health outcomes to the work directly done by Healthy Blocks. However, in an effort to evaluate the initiative as accurately as possible, our target population consists of Triangle neighborhood residents who have been directly involved in at least one HB-sponsored activity or reside in a geographical location immediately surrounding our existing or planned public streetscape improvements.

[1] Abstract from “Social Determinants of Health in 2017: Scarcity of Supportive Services Hampers SDOH Linkages” 2017 Healthcare Intelligence Network <http://www.hin.com/library/registerSocialHealthDeterminants2017.html>

[2] Excerpt from Health Outcomes Demonstration Project Q&A Webinar, presented 12 September 2016 Enterprise Community Partners https://www.enterprisecommunity.org/resources/national-health-outcomes-demonstration-project-qa-webinar-1-18246, emphasis added

How would adding second bathroom make an impact on my home and my neighborhood?

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A unique feature of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative is its approach to neighborhood stabilization by the use of data to develop new projects. This data-driven trajectory resulted in the Triangle Half-Bath Program, a pilot project funded by the Community Design Center of Rochester’s Development and Design Fund Grant and NeighborWorks® America’s Pride in Place Grant. The Half-Bath Program provided ten Triangle neighborhood homeowners with free architectural renderings (provided by the local firm Architectura, PC) and cost estimates to plan a half-bath addition to their one-bathroom home.

The Half-Bath Program was driven by results from a comprehensive market study conducted in the Triangle in 2015. The study revealed that 74% of the Triangle’s single-family housing stock was built before 1940. Because of this, the majority of these homes are three bedroom, one-bathroom houses with the bath located on the second floor. The study also documented that over a ten-year period, 64% of the single-family homes that sold for less than $65,000 were purchased by investors. At the same time, properties with one and a half bathrooms sold for, on average, $10,000 more than homes with only one bathroom, making them less attractive to investorsThe addition of a half-bath to a one-bathroom property has the potential for several positive outcomes. First, a second bathroom on the first floor can make the home more practical and comfortable for growing families, guests, and/or elderly residents or relatives who have more trouble climbing stairs—all of which can lead to a family remaining longer in the home. Second, the value added by the second bath raises the purchase price of the home above investor interest, so that if the family does decide to move, their home is more likely to be purchased by an owner-occupant. Both of these factors contribute to the neighborhood’s long-term stability.

With the total cost of the project often falling below the $10,000 mark, adding a half-bath (or in some cases, another full bath) is a good investment for many homeowners. However, there are barriers to beginning the project, such as finding an architect, paying for initial estimates, and a general lack of knowledge and experience about the project’s costs and process. The Half-Bath Program removed those barriers for its ten pilot participants, some of whom are already planning to have the project completed with the help of resources from NeighborWorks® Rochester and from our partner, Canandaigua National Bank, both of whom are offering special funding exclusively for the Triangle in support of the project. NeighborWorks Rochester is excited about the possibility that this pilot can be replicated in other neighborhoods, making homes more suitable and desirable for families and providing stability in city neighborhoods.

 

NeighborWorks® Rochester Helps Bring Free Solar to Triangle Family

Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative has been active in The Triangle neighborhood of North Winton Village, working to improve property conditions, neighborhood image, and resident engagement. Part of the work of Healthy Blocks has been focused on making the neighborhood greener through various projects: tree plantings, clean sweeps, free home energy assessments through Green Jobs/Green New York, connecting residents with loans and grants for energy improvements through New York State’s EMPOWER and Assisted Home Performance programs, and more! Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester has helped neighbors invest more than $63,000 in environmentally-friendly energy improvements in the Triangle neighborhood alone. NeighborWorks® Rochester has also shown a commitment to bringing renewable energy to the City of Rochester and Monroe County. Our organization partnered with ROCSPOT on its last two Solarize the Flower City campaigns, which held public solar orientations and helped hundredboswell-familys of Rochesterians sign up for free solar audits.

During this time, NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to partner with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, NeighborWorks® America, and GRID Alternatives to fund and implement 5 free rooftop solar installations to low-to-moderate-income families in the City of Rochester. This pilot program, the first of its kind in the City of Rochester, also includes a workforce development portion, where students in community college solar programs can participate in the installation of the panels and earn a certificate that indicates real job experience to potential employers. Using this model, the first two installations were completed on City homes in November of 2015.

At the close of 2016, NeighborWorks® Rochester celebrated the third installation—on a home in its very own Healthy Blocks neighborhood! Julie and Pat Boswell—pictured with baby Carey and pup Ava—received their 10 solar panels on December 21st from installers they describe as efficient and professional. The panels, which have a lifespan of 20 years, will save the Boswells $40/month in utility bills. Combined with the energy-efficiency improvements they received through the EMPOWER program, their monthly bill will be significantly lowered, helping both the environment and their bottom line. “I never thought this could happen,” says Julie. “I never would have thought this was an option if NeighborWorks® hadn’t reached out to us.”

solar-roofGRID Alternatives is in the process of identifying and scheduling the final two low-mod solar installations, which are slated to be completed by spring of this year.

Investing in The Triangle through Leadership Training

Part of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks program is investing in resident leaders who can work to transform their community from the inside-out. As part of this goal, every year we sponsor a team of residents and City stakeholders to attend NeighborWorks® America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI), a three-day event focused on training emerging leaders in skills for community organizing and neighborhood revitalization. This year’s attendees were Triangle residents Mikey Rodriguez, Julie Boswell, and Lorna Wright. Stakeholder attendees were: Baye Muhammad, the City’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Business Development, LaShunda Leslie-Smith from Connected Communities, and Maureen Duggan from Rochester’s Community Design Center.

During the training, attendees took classes on building on community assets, organizing volunteers, marketing your neighborhood, sharing your success stories with the media, and other critical topics taught by experienced and knowledgeable faculty from all over the country. They also had to opportunity to share stories and ideas with other groups. In total, 110 teams from the nation – over 1000 participants – attended the event.

As a follow-up to the CLI, NeighborWorks® America provides a small grant opportunity to each team to put a resident-driven community project into action. This year’s team has chosen to pursue painting a community mural on Culver Road, the main gateway street for both The Triangle and Beechwood neighborhoods. The mural will bring the community together, both by addressing residents’ concerns about the street-facing facades of Culver Road commercial spaces and by adding unique and recognizable place-making elements to the The Triangle. Congratulations to all the attendees!

Healthy Blocks Celebrates its Landscaping Contest Winners

NW_hale04NeighborWorks® Rochester is delighted to celebrate the completion of a collaborative home improvement project in The Triangle, its current Healthy Blocks target neighborhood. Late last year, NeighborWorks® Rochester held a raffle contest for all homeowners in The Triangle who had closed on a home improvement loan in 2015. The winners of the raffle, Joyce and Neville Hayle, received $500 from Healthy Blocks for front yard landscaping material, which was matched by in-kind services provided by Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care. This landscape project was completed in August. The Hayle family made use of a NeighborWorks Rochester’s Home Improvement Loan to install a new sidewalk and to rebuild and repaint their porch, among other repairs. Now, with the added landscaping from Broccolo, they can enjoy a well maintained, beautiful home for many years to come.

Laurie Broccolo (pictured with Joyce and Neville left) and her family have been an enormous asset to the work of NeighborWorks® Rochester in The Triangle neighborhood and elsewhere. In addition to doing the work on the Hayles’ house, they contributed time and resources to the St. Mark’s & St John’s EDEN community garden at the entrance of Farmington Park, which produces hundreds of NW_hale02pounds of food per year and is regularly identified by rNW_hale01esidents as an important neighborhood asset.

NeighborWorks® Rochester invested over $150,000 in home improvements in The Triangle neighborhood in 2015.

Healthy Blocks Announces its Bike Rack Artists!

www.ssrphotography.com
www.ssrphotography.com

MSA Logo

NeighborWorks® Rochester is thrilled to announce the local artists who have been chosen to design four bike racks to be installed in The Triangle of North Winton Village this August, via the Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative Program! The goals of this project are to create bike parking where there currently is none, to improve access to the businesses located at the apex of the Triangle neighborhood, and to enhance the neighborhood’s unique image. Two of the racks will be fabricated by MetalSomeArt, a collaboration of Clay Lieberman and Matty Soanes, and two will be created by Jesse Hughson, Skillhoarder and creator of CyrCraft Customs. These racks will installed by the City of Rochester in four strategic locations in the business district area of Culver-Merchants.

Beer Stein MSAMetalSomeArt was founded by Matty and Clay (pictured top) in 2013, though both have a decade of metal fabrication experience. Operating from their workshop on E Main, they create handmade belt buckles, metal-plated leather journals, custom sculptures, and more. Recently, they designed and constructed the trophy to be given to the winner of Rochester Real Beer Week’s “Best New Beer of 2015” (pictured right). Matty and Clay’s racks (without giving away the surprise!) will incorporate minimalist, industrial, functional and modern design concepts.

Immanuel Baptist Bike RackJesse Hughson lives in Beechwood and is an artist who specializes in metal fabrication, prototyping, sculptural work, CNC machining, electronics, woodworking, and more. Through CyrCraft Customs, he builds, engraves and adds LEDs to Cyr Wheels, a specialized type of full-body gymnastics equipment. His past work also includes a bike rack he built for Immanuel Baptist Church on Park Avenue (pictured left). His fabrications for the Triangle will bring creativity and life into the area.

Healthy Blocks looks forward to the completion of this project and the increased aesthetic appeal and bicycle traffic it will bring to The Triangle!

Ceremony to Kickoff Earth Day Celebration

11884952_465122370314642_1826571326288146815_oCollaboration Helps to Build Healthy Neighborhood 

NeighborWorks® Rochester is pleased to announce that, along with St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church and Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care, a ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off Earth Day will be held at the Merchants Road Community Garden. The event will be held on Friday, April 22nd at 10:00AM at the Garden, also known as the Garden of E.D.E.N. II, 622 Merchants Road, Rochester, NY.

The garden is a project initiated and maintained by the St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church community with support from FoodLink. Recently, NeighborWorks® Rochester secured a grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation for the Merchants Road Community Garden for enhancements, including a shed and garden tools as part of their Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

The garden is located within Rochester’s Triangle Neighborhood of North Winton Village. This community is the focus of the Healthy Blocks program, which seeks to stimulate changes that restore and sustain neighborhood pride and confidence by working together with residents, businesses, and landlords.

In addition, NeighborWorks® Rochester coordinated with the City of Rochester to remove and replace existing features like the entryway pillars, signs, and fencing. Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care has provided technical assistance and additional resources to create landscaping at the garden that promotes the plant and animal life while making the space more inviting.

Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester stated, “This garden is a perfect example of a cooperative effort of residents, merchants, businesses and the city to enhance a neighborhood that is in transition. The collaboration of all the parts will work to strengthen civic involvement, pride in the community and encourage reinvestment. We were especially thankful to St. Mark’s and St. John’s and Broccolo for partnering with us to make this garden a successful neighborhood project, which provides benefits beyond the growing season.“

“It was our pleasure to be involved with the Garden of E.D.E.N,” said Laurie Broccolo, President of Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care. “We want to help educate the community about growing food, including the plants that attract pollinators, which are necessary for success. Connecting people to nature is a personal passion and goal for me. Helping our community to enjoy the benefits of gardening and growing plants is near and dear to my heart.”

Last year, close to 850 pounds of produce was harvested from The Merchants Road Community Garden, with a portion of the harvest going to a local food bank. Local residents who volunteered received a $5 voucher each time they volunteered at the garden, to be used at any local farmer’s market.