UTICA — Whether it was an empty building or a vacant lot, Cornhill resident Ed Jackson said the site of the former Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School always has been an eyesore.

Plans to build 50 affordable housing units around the 1515 Brinckerhoff Ave. site and in parts of the surrounding neighborhood, however, have him looking forward to change.

“We certainly need the housing for the area, and it’ll make the area look good,” Jackson said, referring to the Brinckerhoff Avenue site. “That area hasn’t looked good in awhile with all of the demolition and construction.”

Managed by the Utica Municipal Housing Authority, the Roosevelt Residences project will see the construction of 25 new buildings on 11 separate sites throughout the Cornhill neighborhood.

The Roosevelt project was first announced by the housing authority and the city in 2014, a year after demolition of the former school began. The $15.8 million endeavor is funded by several sources, including New York State Homes and Community Renewal, federal low-income housing tax credits and federal HOME funds administered through the city. More than 70 local, state and federal officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony late last month.

Of the 50 units, five will be permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans and other chronically homeless populations. The housing authority also will build a resident center in conjunction with the project.

The 76-year-old Jackson believes the center will be valuable for Cornhill, saying he has seen a growth in the number of children in the neighborhood since moving there in the late 80s.

“It shows the residency that the government in the city really cares about the community and is trying to do something,” he said. “Usually the gripe is about the city not doing anything or not helping us. This is help coming in.”

To his understanding, Utica Common Councilman Bill Phillips said the resident center will be open to those living in the Roosevelt Residences units and the neighborhood. Cornhill falls into Phillips’ representative district, the Fifth Ward.

For Phillips, one of the appeals of the project is the management of the housing authority. The group’s presence will give him and others who have questions or concerns an outlet, while the authority also offers supportive housing services for its tenants and a structured management presence to make sure the rules are being followed.

“One of the biggest needs in the neighborhood is quality rental units,” he said. “Having said that, our ultimate goal would be for everybody to own a home. That not being the case, a good rental unit available is certainly a must.”

The councilman said Cornhill still could use recreational centers for the neighborhood’s children, citing the 2008 closure of the Cosmopolitan Center, which had operated for 70 years.

But as far as housing goes, Phillips said he fully supports the endeavor.

“I think everything about this project is a positive one,” he said. “The need for rental units is paramount, and it’s probably the number one need other than recreational needs for the community. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Contact reporter Greg Mason at 315-792-5074 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Mason).