On August 3, 2021, a $31 million mixed-use housing development was completed on Buffalo, New York‘s East Side. The revitalization of Jefferson Avenue as a commercial corridor with affordable housing is a proven strategy, and is priority for Buffalo. The project’s co-developers are People, Inc. and Sinatra & Company Real Estate, LLC.
The project was supported through the state’s Buffalo Billion initiative to revitalize neighborhoods and improve transportation, the Jefferson Avenue Apartments feature 90 affordable apartments, including 16 units with supportive services and more than 16,000 square feet of commercial space.
“We not only want to provide every Western New Yorker with the dignity of a roof over their head, but also the keys to opportunity,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “The completion of new commercial and affordable housing on Jefferson Avenue is yet another important step in Buffalo’s economic comeback helping to enhance quality of life by providing access to the support services people need.”
The Jefferson Avenue Apartments include 71 one-bedroom and 19 two-bedroom apartments across two adjacent three-story buildings. The development also features 16 units reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, with on-site supportive services provided by People, Inc.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Once again, New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program is advancing the redevelopment of abandoned and underutilized properties to benefit our communities. The Brownfield Cleanup Program is a powerful tool in Buffalo’s rebirth, and the revitalization of former industrial sites statewide, and DEC is thrilled to have a role in helping this project become a reality.”
The ground floors of both buildings include a total of 16,500 square feet of commercial space, which will include a People Inc. recruitment office and other agency office space, as well as rooms for training new staff and community meetings. Sinatra and Company Real Estate, the development’s leasing agent, has secured the Northwest Banking Center, run by Belmont; Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship, Inc.; and ABC Learn and Play 2 as tenants for the commercial space.
Senator Tim Kennedy said, “Over the last year, New Yorkers were forced to take shelter in order to stay safe, and because of that, the word “home” took on a new meaning. Today, we extend that same blessing of a space to call home with the completion of these impressive, and most importantly – affordable – apartments. This project is yet another example of New York’s continued investment in supportive, sustainable housing opportunities. Congratulations to People, Inc. and Sinatra & Company Real Estate, LLC on this exciting new chapter.”
Running through the city’s East Side, Jefferson Avenue is a main thoroughfare that is close to Buffalo’s Medical Campus, Route 33 and downtown Buffalo. The development is served by three bus routes and is adjacent to a park, a grocery store and a small shopping center.
“Affordable and supportive housing are a critical component of our efforts to create vibrant communities and build New York back better than it was before,” former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “The Jefferson Avenue Apartments will provide New Yorkers with safe, affordable housing along with life-enhancing services that will help the most vulnerable among us to live comfortably and in independent settings.”
The Jefferson Avenue Apartments were designed to meet Enterprise Green Communities criteria and NYSERDA’s Low Rise New Construction Program. Energy efficient features include Energy Star high-efficiency furnaces with direct expansion cooling and high efficiency domestic water heating equipment; low-flow and water sense labelled plumbing fixtures; Energy Star lighting with sensors; advanced air sealing techniques; and higher-than-code levels of insulation.
HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, HCR is building mixed-use housing developments that create thriving downtowns and expand residential neighborhoods. Our $31 million investment in the Jefferson Avenue Apartments provides 90 affordable and supportive energy-efficient homes and activates the streetscape with ground floor commercial space along this important corridor on Buffalo’s East Side. This is how we build inclusive communities where people want to live, work and visit.”
Amenities include community rooms with kitchens and laundry facilities in both buildings, a playground, and additional outdoor green space. Murals on the outside and artwork inside the building were provided through a partnership with People Inc. and the WNY-Urban Arts Collective.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said “The construction completion of a $31 million mixed-use housing development on Buffalo’s East Side serves as a shining example of the Better Buffalo Fund’s commitment to revitalize our community. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership and investment in WNY through the Buffalo Billion.”
New York State Homes and Community Renewal‘s financing for the Jefferson Avenue Apartments includes $1.3 million in tax-exempt bonds; federal and state low-income housing tax credits that generated $12.5 million in equity; and an additional $9.3 million in subsidy. The state Department of Environmental Conservation allocated Brownfield tax credits that generated $2.9 million in equity.
Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, “The Better Buffalo Fund is advancing economic development by promoting smart growth through transit-oriented development in the city of Buffalo. The Jefferson Avenue Apartments are just the latest example of a new, mixed-use development that contributes to the vibrant commercial district on Buffalo’s East Side. Residents of these new apartments will benefit by having easily accessible, new affordable housing close to other services and amenities. We congratulate you on a project that is a definite win for Buffalo’s East Side.”
The state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities provided $2.2 million in financing in addition to rental assistance for the 16 supportive units and Empire State Development provided a $1.5 million loan from the Better Buffalo Fund. The project received $500,000 in HOME funds from Buffalo in addition to support from NYSERDA.
Sinatra & Co. Founder and CEO Nick Sinatra said, “We are thrilled to work with People Inc. to facilitate the delivery of quality, affordable housing along Jefferson Avenue. This exciting project is a catalyst for additional development. It is a blueprint of how to provide the community with much needed new housing units, along with neighborhood amenities that contribute to sustainability and vibrancy.”
The Jefferson Avenue Apartments are part of the Governor’s unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan to make housing accessible and to combat homelessness by building or preserving more than 100,000 affordable homes and 6,000 homes with supportive services. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested more than $307 million in Buffalo, which has created or preserved more than 3,200 affordable homes.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “The completion of this mixed-use housing development provides sustainable affordable housing that is paired with access to non-profit resources and support services to deliver a high-quality of life for its residents. The Jefferson Avenue Apartments offer a comfortable living environment with advanced energy efficiency features that provide superior heating, cooling, lighting, plumbing and insulation performance resulting in lower energy bills and reducing harmful emissions as part of the state’s efforts to ensure that all New Yorkers benefit from our clean energy transition.”
This creative community collaboration reflects People Inc.’s mission of inclusion and represents the rich history of Jefferson Avenue and were created by several local artists.
Mayor Byron W. Brown concluded, “Affordable, quality housing continues to be one of my top priorities, and People Inc.’s innovative affordable housing development, which includes units for persons with disabilities, is a great fit with that mission. Since 2006, my Administration has strategically committed $58 million for affordable housing projects that have leveraged $470 million in development and created over 2,266 new housing units for city residents, senior citizens and veterans.”
Renderings courtesy of Long Associates Architects.