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Cambray plans senior complex

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GOUVERNEUR — Cambray Housing Corp. is planning a $15 million project that will replace outmoded housing at Cambray Court with a three-story building that will offer residents more services in a centralized setting.

“No one will be displaced. Some of the buildings will stay until we’re done,” said Ronald P. McDougall, Cambray Housing president. “It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

With the help of United Helpers — which manages the 100-apartment complex on West Main Street for low-income senior citizens and the handicapped — and Omni Housing Development, Albany, Cambray Housing will take the next year or two to finalize the building plans, arrange financing using tax credits and payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreements and complete the project in phases.

The construction will help solve a number of problems at Cambray, which consists of a series of buildings built in 1974 that are not completely handicapped accessible, which have electric heat, and which need modernization.

There are no elevators to the second floors of the individual buildings.

“It’s been a number of years since there’s been many renovations,” United Helpers Director of Operations Todd R. Amo said.

Electric bills in the winter sometimes are $20,000 per month or more, Mr. McDougall said.

One building is in a flood plain of the Oswegatchie River. The design forces residents to go outside if they want to visit someone in another building or want to go to the office.

The switch to a single handicapped accessible building — which will include a community room, kitchen and office — will be more convenient for residents, Mr. McDougall said.

United Helpers is also planning an overlay of services in line with trends to keep seniors longer in their homes as they age. While plans are not finalized yet, add-on programs might include enriched housing, formalized individual services arranged through any agency, rooms for wellness checkups, and various health and recreational activities, Mr. Amo said.

The number of apartments will likely shrink to 80, as determined by a market study conducted by Omni. As construction nears, vacancies as they occur will not be filled.

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