Renovation of a historic, former Joseph Avenue synagogue into a performing arts center is moving forward.
"We're going to breathe new life into this crumbling landmark," Sen. Charles Schumer said in announcing $400,000 for the project Monday.
The money is tucked into a massive $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that Congress approved last week. In all, the bill included more than $200 million for Rochester and the Finger Lakes, officials said.
Plans for the 94-year-old former home of B'nai Israel Ahavas Achim have been in the works for years. Initially the idea was for a museum, as the structure is one of the two oldest surviving, intact synagogues in the city. But that soon changed to a performing arts center with seating for 330, practice rooms for aspiring musicians and space for neighborhood meetings and a glass atrium entryway on the south side of the building.
Organizers plan to bid the project in the weeks ahead, with the goal of selecting a contractor this summer. They have $1.5 million committed to the project, including some state money and the federal dollars. The remaining money could come from a bridge loan or further fundraising, said Dr. Neil Scheier, board president of the nonprofit Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance.
For northeast Rochester, the commitment adds to a separate $100 million in state and federal dollars that Gov. Kathy Hochul pledged last week to fund replacement of a northern stretch of the Inner Loop with an at-grade street network.
Schumer also announced an amount of $400,000 for homeownership grants that could benefit neighborhoods in the area, building on a separate homeownership program being moved forward by the city specifically targeting the northeast and using $13 million in federal pandemic recovery funds.
"When a neighborhood transitions, it doesn't mean you forget about it," Schumer said. "You make it better."
Schumer, D-New York, was joined by Congressman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit and other local elected elected officials Monday.
The area is seeing wave of federal funding, also including infrastructure spending. This is the first time, at least in recent memory, Schumer said, that New York should receive more tax dollars back from Washington than it sent.
Below is a list of other local projects and entities funded in the omnibus bill:
$83 million for the OMEGA Laser Facility at Rochester Laser Labs for continuing research.
$88.5 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology, an increase of $7 million over last year.
$225,000 for city of Rochester mental health crisis and intervention response services.
$200,000 for Urban League of Rochester entrepreneurship and business development programming.
$750,000 for Foodlink to increase storage and distribution capacity.
$1.5 million for RIT to work for the U.S. Marine Corps on extending the life of military vehicles and equipment
$5 million to fund work between Rochester-based Cerion Nanomaterials and the U.S. Army related to advanced material needs.
$15 million for Xerox to work with the Navy’s Consortium for Additive Manufacturing on research involving liquid metal 3-D printers being developed at the Webster campus
$500,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Great Lakes Resiliency Study.
$44,000 for BluePrint Geneva to open a community kitchen and pay-what-you-can-cafe.
$1.5 million to enable L3Harris’ Rochester to supply communications systems to the Special Operations Forces Tactical Communications (USSOCOM)
$900,000 for the G.L.O.W. YMCA in Batavia to build a Healthy Living Campus.
$4 million for a wireless broadband network in Orleans and Niagara counties.
$105,000 to the Hornell Area YMCA to upgrade equipment in the new Dansville branch.
$379,432 for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County to build a rural community response learning center.
$2 million for the town of Seneca Falls water and wastewater improvements.
$640,000 for the village of Dundee, Yates County water system improvements.
$180,000 for Newark-Wayne Community Hospital for new defibrillators and other equipment.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Joseph Avenue synagogue could finally be getting makeover Rochester NY