Buffalo gets $7.7M (public) to leverage $64M (private) for dense, mixed-use revitalization

On June 22, 2018, eleven projects—including five on the East Side of Buffalo, New York—received awards totaling $7,780,930 through round three of the state’s Better Buffalo Fund. The fund was established to support projects that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and that revitalize neighborhood commercial districts.

This third round of funding will help complete the renovation of 172 residential units and more than 130,795-square-feet of storefront and commercial space, while leveraging over $64.26 million in private investment.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard A. Zemsky said, “This new round of funding will help to continue and complete Better Buffalo Fund projects that have followed a placemaking strategy in revitalizing city neighborhoods and commercial districts, connecting people to homes, jobs and futures in Western New York.

A key initiative of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo‘s revitalization efforts in Western New York, the Better Buffalo Fund aims to create vibrant, mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods, while improving access to the major employment hubs by creating stronger transit and transportation linkages between neighborhoods employment centers, job training and services.

New York State Homes & Community Renewal Commissioner & CEO RuthAnne Visnauskas added, “Building rehabilitation projects assisted through the first two rounds of the Better Buffalo Fund are revitalizing commercial corridors throughout the City of Buffalo. This third round of the BBF will usher in the next group of high-impact projects to strengthen the city and make its neighborhoods better places to live.”

The Better Buffalo Fund is bringing new life to neighborhoods across the region, while shining light on business and job opportunities for residents,” Governor Cuomo said. “This comprehensive approach to economic development has already transformed the region, and New York will continue to support Buffalo’s growth to ensure a stronger, more vibrant community for decades to come.

The Governor has committed $40 million to the Better Buffalo Fund, via $30 million in Buffalo Billion I and $10 million in Buffalo Billion II. Through three rounds of the program, the Better Buffalo Fund has awarded more than $28 million to 46 projects. These projects are renovating more than 622 residential units and more than 320,000 square-feet of store front and commercial space, while also leveraging over $287.7 million in private investment in the City of Buffalo.

Growing up in Western New York, I would never have imagined seeing the type of investment in neighborhood development and transportation corridors that the Better Buffalo Fund is supporting,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today’s announcement in Buffalo. “Since day one, the Governor and I have enacted a transformationally inclusive neighborhood-driven strategy to define our economic recovery, because we only succeed when everyone has a chance to achieve the American dream – we will never leave anyone behind. That has been our commitment, and today’s announcement of the latest round of funding for the Better Buffalo Fund reaffirms that promise.

Applicants applied for grants and revolving loan funds through the Better Buffalo Fund for one of two initiatives: Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Buffalo Main Streets. There will be a fourth round of Better Buffalo Fund funding that begins in early 2019 to continue the revitalization of Buffalo’s neighborhoods and main streets.

Projects funded in this round of the Better Buffalo Fund include:

Transit-Oriented Development Awarded Projects

Six Transit-Oriented Development awards totaled $6,130,930 in grants and loans. This program is a grant and revolving loan fund for up to $2 million in gap financing for adaptive reuse or infill capital projects, which promote dense development (housing, employment and retail) within 1/2 mile walking distance of transit stops on Main Street, Niagara Street, Bailey Avenue, Utica Street, Grant Street, and Fillmore Avenue corridors; and encourage the use of multi-modal transportation, and stimulate pedestrian activity through retail and neighborhood-oriented businesses and services, quality public spaces and accessible walkways.

  • 950 Broadway – $2,000,000 loan: Applicant: Cedarland Development Group
    • The $5.79 million project, at 950 Broadway Street, involves rehabilitation and conversion of a commercial building that is currently vacant and underutilized into a mixed-use, multifamily workforce housing project, including first floor commercial space and approximately 26 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. It builds on the momentum of nearby investments, such as the city’s installation of bike paths, stabilization/rehab of local properties by Broadway-Fillmore NHS and the Albright-Knox’s investment in a mural (Welcome Wall) directly across the street.
  • Jefferson Avenue Apartments – $1,902,094 loan: Applicant: People Inc.
    • This $31 million mixed-use project includes the construction of two new three-story buildings totaling 89-units of affordable and middle-income rental housing located at 1140 Jefferson Avenue. 16 apartments will be set aside for people with developmental disabilities, and include support services to enable those people to live independently. People Inc., the developer and an experienced human service provider, will provide supportive services to residents of these units. Additionally, a portion of the commercial space will be leased out, in order to provide human services to the community at large. The balance of the commercial space is expected to be occupied by commercial/retail tenants as well as not for profits.
  • TOD at 65 Northland – $170,156 grant: Applicant: ArchType LLC
    • The new four-unit apartment building at 65 Northland Avenue will be a modern, sustainable, and financially feasible home. The current site is a vacant lot, that sits in the center of several bus routes and adjacent to the subway on Buffalo’s East side. The $850,000 project will utilize sustainable geothermal heating and cooling significantly reducing the cost and reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Blackrock Freight House – $750,000 loan: Applicant: Common Bond Real Estate
    • This $9.98 million mixed-use redevelopment project located at 68 Tonawanda Street, will transform over 37,000-square-feet of mostly vacant industrial space into 37 two-bedroom apartments and roughly 3,000-square-feet of commercial space for which tenants are currently being identified.
  • 72 Sycamore Street – $359,000 grant: Applicant: Preservation Buffalo Niagara in partnership with Signature Development LLC
    • Signature Development LLC has acquired one of the oldest buildings in downtown Buffalo, 72 Sycamore Street f/b/o Preservation Buffalo Niagara with the intent to redevelop it as an arts hub destination within the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. The $1.75 million project will redevelop the building into an arts hub destination with four live/work artist space and 3,000 square feet of office space that is programmatically tied in with the important heritage area on Michigan Street.
  • The Kyndall Building- $949,680 loan: pplicant: R Kyndall Development Group, LLC
    • This $5.9 million project will develop vacant lots located at 647, 649 and 651 East Delavan into a new 13,000 square foot, three- story mixed use building. The building will include 12 mixed-income apartments with on-site parking and ground level commercial or retail space.

Buffalo Main Street Initiative Awarded Projects

Five Main Streets awards totaled $1,650,000 in grants. A program modeled on the New York State Main Street program, the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative will assist in the revitalization of historic downtowns and mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts. The program considered grant requests from non-profit organizations for building renovations and public space enhancements in discrete, mixed-use target areas, with direct coordination from the local non-profit community based organization/business association. New York State Homes and Community Renewal will be administering these grants.

  • North Buffalo Infill – $500,000 grant: Applicant: The North Buffalo Organization
    • The North Buffalo Organization will use grant funds to assist in the $7 million development of the 1585 Hertel mixed-use development. The project is expected to leverage local private funds and will continue the revitalization of the Hertel Avenue Business District in North Buffalo. The proposed project site is located at 1585 Hertel Avenue on the southeast corner of Hertel Avenue and Parkside Avenue.
  • Vibrant Seneca Street – $300,000 grant: Applicant: Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo
    • The Wellness Institute will use grant funds to assist in the renovation of storefronts and apartments. This $300,000 project will leverage streetscape funds from the City of Buffalo, as well as private funding to continue the revitalization of Seneca Street and the surrounding neighborhood. The target area is within the Seneca Street commercial corridor between Cazenovia and Epson street. This area begins with the historic Shea’s Seneca Theater and finishes off at the highly acclaimed Cazenovia Park.
  • Grant Street Buffalo Main Streets Initiative – $300,000 grant: Applicant: Heart of the City Neighborhoods Inc.
    • Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc. will use grant funds to assist with the $384,000 renovation of storefronts and attached residential units, as well as providing streetscape enhancements on Grant Street in Buffalo between West Ferry and Potomac Avenue. The proposed project will leverage private funds to continue the revitalization of this mixed-use corridor in the heart of Buffalo’s West Side.
  • Black Rock Revival – $300,000 grant: Applicant: West Side Black Rock Neighborhood Housing Services
    • West Side Black Rock Neighborhood Housing Services and the Grant Amherst Business Association will use grant funds to assist in the $570,000 renovation of properties in a target area between Grant and Bridgeman Renovation work will include facade restorations, including historic elements, masonry restorations, new windows, signs, awnings and lighting. These projects expect to leverage local and private owner funds to continue the GABA/WSNHS commercial district revitalization efforts.
  • 1235 Hertel Avenue – $250,000 grant: Applicant: Forever Elmwood Corporation
    • The Elmwood Village Association will use grant funds to assist with the planned $2.5 million adaptive reuse of 1235 Hertel Avenue. The reuse is expected to leverage upwards of $2.5 million in private funds to extend the renaissance of a walkable Hertel Avenue business district westward. The reuse will result in 1235 Hertel Avenue being returned to both city and county tax rolls.

Photo of Buffalo via Adobe Stock.

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