Buffalo reverses long-standing practice of incremental demolition to ensure a future restoration economy for its East Side

On October 3, 2022, applications opened for a second round of the $5 million East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund in Buffalo, New York.

With this Fund, we are taking steps to address decades of neglect in East Buffalo and standing by our commitment to doing right by this community,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.

The East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund will allow for much-needed renovations at historic buildings to restore the neighborhood and bring bustling commercial activity back to this community. I encourage businesses to apply and be a part of the revitalization of East Buffalo,” she added.

This is great news for those looking to create a restoration economy on the East Side of town by repurposing, renewing and reconnecting (the reliable 3Re Strategy for revitalization) existing built assets.

The fund is helping to revitalize and protect the community fabric of East Buffalo, making sure that challenged buildings are maintained for prospective future reuse, reversing a decades-long practice of incremental demolition of historic building stock.

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “This additional round of grants from the East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund will continue to open up opportunities for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings throughout our city. I strongly encourage business owners and individuals with an interest in East Buffalo investment to pursue the application process, and explore the character-filled commercial buildings that are waiting to be restored to their former glory.

This additional round will provide opportunities for grants up to $150,000 to cover 90 percent of costs to stabilize legacy commercial buildings that are at risk for future emergency demolition, pending efforts for full restoration or rehabilitation. Property owners are required to contribute 10 percent of the total project costs.

This will preserve East Buffalo’s unique history, character, and sense of place in its architecture and urban design, and more so, preserve future opportunities for small business development in such buildings, which is substantially more feasible in existing structures compared to new building construction.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund helps ensure the physical fabric of East Buffalo is as strong as the community spirit of its residents. Providing adequate support and maintenance of neighborhood structures can lead to the revitalization of commercial districts, spur development and strengthen the local economy.

An initial round of $500,000 was awarded in 2021, leaving a balance of $4.5 million for future rounds.

The program is open to owners of commercial and mixed-use structures that were built more than 50 years ago and meet additional program criteria as outlined in the program guidelines.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Jessie Fisher said, “We know that investing in our legacy commercial buildings is part of any successful neighborhood rehabilitation strategy. We are so grateful for New York State in making this investment in the East Side of Buffalo.

Structures must be in East Buffalo with a preference given to those buildings along commercial corridors especially in the target investment areas—Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore and Bailey avenues—of the state’s $65 million East Side Corridors Economic Development Fund (ESCEDF).

Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “I’d like to thank Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for implementing a second round of the East Side Commercial Building Stabilization fund. Buffalo is an older city where we’ve lost many historical structures via neglect over the years; those still standing need attention and investment, and this program provides a mechanism to stabilize the buildings and their respective neighborhoods.

Property owners interested in learning more about the program can attend a virtual information session on Wednesday, October 19 at 6 p.m. and should register here to attend. The full program guidelines and applications can be found here.

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “As we continue to recover and build back stronger in East Buffalo, it’s important to let residents know about this vital fund which plays a key role in the health and wellness of our neighborhoods. These funds will help further stabilize at-risk buildings for commercial use and redevelopment. We are so grateful to New York State for making this continued investment in East Buffalo, and I encourage applicants to apply for this second round of funding by the December 3rd deadline.”

Applications for the program, administered by Preservation Buffalo Niagara, are due December 3, 2022.

Photo of Buffalo courtesy of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.

Learn more and apply here.

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