Democrat & Chronicle – Work is underway on a $53 million mixed-use housing development returning homes to a portion of Eastman Business Park that was bulldozed for parking a half-century ago.

Eastman Reserve will be the first housing on the sprawling 1,200-acre business park that powered Eastman Kodak Co. in its heyday.

Expected to be complete in spring 2020, the Pathstone Corp. development will rise north of West Ridge Road behind California Brew Haus, on nine acres bordered by Dewey and Eastman avenues and Woodside Street. In all, the project totals 17 buildings and a combined 187 housing units in apartments, townhouses and single-family rental homes.

A groundbreaking is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

For Kodak, the housing development is another step forward and very visible sign of its effort to reimagine the business park in northwest Rochester as a work-live, learn-in-place community.

“We are really excited about the progress we have made,” said Dolores Kruchten, a vice president with Kodak who leads the corporate real estate and Eastman Business Park division. “All the things we are working on …make this park attractive to companies.”

Also in the works: A “Kodak Experience” historical walk-through display, café and retail area in Kodak Center lobby expected to be completed this fall or early winter. There also are plans for exhibit and classroom space. Nonprofit Junior Achievement is moving into the park. The newly converted $80 million natural gas power plant is online with a ribbon cutting scheduled for July 31. And Eastman Avenue should be reopened to Lake Avenue by early 2019.

Kodak tested the waters on a possible restaurant and commercial space along West Ridge Road but now expects that will have to wait until other developments progress further. Another long-range plan is an envisioned park expansion for high-tech companies, a hotel and other, mainly commercial uses on 30 acres of parking lots east of Lake Avenue.

Sam Spoto couldn’t be happier.

Spoto, 79, is president of the Maplewood Neighborhood Association and has lived in or around the area for most of his life. He is a 12-year Kodak employee who left to start his own camera repair business on Dewey Avenue.

“You live in an area so long, you don’t want it to be lost,” he said, adding that the redevelopment area in particular “has been dead for a long time.”

“This is massive, as far as what’s going to be done. … I’m really pushing to make sure this works. We are going to be digging a hole, so I guess it’s a done thing now.”

Eastman Reserve is targeted toward middle-income renters, with the developers eyeing two business park developments: the national photonics initiative headquarters and research hub over on Lake Avenue, and the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center led by Monroe Community College. Both are ramping up and Pathstone real estate developer Robert Cain said there seemed to be “a natural progression and timeline” to cater to that workforce.

Plans also include limited commercial space as well as a clubhouse with computer lab, community room, fitness center, playground, dog park, and rooftop terrace. Rents would range from $600 to $1,300, with utilities included. The single-family houses are sized at 1,200 to 1,700 square feet, officials said.

The project is funded, in part, with $25.5 million in tax-exempt state bonds, nearly $16 million in other state and federal aid and low-income housing tax credits.

Of the 187 planned housing units, 27 are being set aside for homeless young adults and domestic violence victims with on-site support services. Leasing could begin later this year.

(Photo: Tina MacIntyre-Yee)