On November 22, 2022, construction began on the Apartments at the Lyceum in East Buffalo, New York. The $23 million redevelopment will transform a historic former school into 42 affordable and supportive apartments and community service hub, helping to revitalize the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood of East Buffalo.
The project involves the renovation of the historic St. John Kanty Lyceum building at 97 Swinburne Street, as well as ten adjacent lots. The school’s classroom and offices will be transformed into 42 affordable apartments, with 12 apartments reserved for households in need of supportive services.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The Apartments at the Lyceum is an excellent example of Governor Hochul’s comprehensive strategy to address inequities in East Buffalo. Through the collaboration of multiple state agencies and local partners, an underutilized but beautiful historic property will be carefully renovated into 42 affordable and supportive homes. With a sustainable design, free internet, greenspace and an adjacent service center, this development will truly meet the needs of residents and will serve the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood for decades to come.”
These residents will have access to rental subsidies and services funded through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Community Services for Every1 will provide services such as case management, financial counseling, workforce development, and referrals to health, child care, and public benefit services.
Community Services for Every1’s Vice President of Program Support and Development, Kelly Kinderman said, “We are excited to help bring this project to fruition with our talented development team. We are extremely grateful for the funding from the State of New York. Community Services has a successful and long-standing commitment to increase the availability of safe, decent, and affordable housing. With the Governor’s support we can continue our efforts in some of our most underserved neighborhoods.”
The existing kitchen, cafeteria, and activity room of the building will be renovated into 7,600 square feet of community space for after school programming, culinary arts and healthy eating education, and independent living and job readiness training services to both future residents and members of the surrounding neighborhood. The St. John Kanty Parish will sublease a portion of the space for parish activities.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “Congratulations to Community Services for Every1 on breaking ground for the Apartments at the Lyceum. While Broadway-Fillmore can no longer be considered a forgotten neighborhood, it will need to see a prolonged and concentrated effort to make and sustain impactful change through projects like this. Thank you Governor Hochul and NYS Homes and Community Renewal for continuing to invest in Buffalo’s Eastside.”
The project’s design will celebrate many of the building’s distinct architectural designs and finishes. The existing two-story auditorium will maintain its historic vaulted ceiling and additional features will be restored to their original appearances.
Community Services for Every1‘s CEO, Mindy Cervoni said, “These awards address significant unmet needs for affordable and accessible housing in the City of Buffalo. Apartments at the historic St. John Kanty Lyceum will create Erie County’s first permanent supportive housing program explicitly developed for survivors of domestic violence and will allow Community Services to assist them with any factors that contribute to their housing instability. Governor Hochul’s continued support for these projects is addressing the issues of homelessness and domestic violence, while affecting positive and meaningful change in our communities.”
As part of the building’s modernization and decarbonization efforts, it is also designed to meet the requirements of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s New Construction Housing Program and 2020 Enterprise Green Communities.
Energy-efficient elements include Energy Star or equivalent appliances, an EV charging station, low-flow plumbing fixtures, increased insulation, and the installation of new lighting, HVAC systems, windows, and roofs. The building will be highly energy efficient and have no use of fossil fuel use on site.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Ensuring that all New Yorkers have equitable access to housing that is clean, resilient and healthy for its occupants is a critical mission that NYSERDA is honored to partner with New York State Homes and Community Renewal on our $100 million Clean Energy Initiative. With the start of construction at the Apartments of Lyceum, we see a new beginning and modernization for this historic structure that will provide increased access to energy efficient affordable housing for East Buffalo residents.”
The ten adjacent parcels surrounding the school will be developed into parking, greenspace with an accessible playground, and walking areas.
Representative Brian Higgins said, “The United States is facing an affordable housing crisis and Western New York is not immune, especially in Buffalo. This investment in the historic St. John Kanty Lyceum building will provide a safety, stability, and independence for survivors of domestic violence, families, and people with disabilities, while extending support to the surrounding neighborhoods. It builds on efforts to restore our city’s historic architecture, while addressing the urgent need for sustainable and affordable housing.”
Additional residential amenities will include a community room, laundry room, storage, and free broadband internet service.
State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “With this groundbreaking, we are turning one more part of Buffalo’s past into its future and providing safe, affordable, quality housing for residents. Thanks to the vision from Community Services for Every1, the historic St. John Kanty School is earning a new lease on life. Congratulations to everyone whose hard work has made this possible.”
Community Services for Every1 is also the project’s developer. Edgemere Development is the consulting developer.
Edgemere Development’s Senior Vice President of Real Estate Development, Stephanie Benson said, “Apartments at the Lyceum demonstrates positive community impact and reuse of a significant neighborhood structure through public and private partnerships. We appreciate the partnership with NYS Homes and Community Renewal, the City of Buffalo, NYS Office of Mental Health, NYS Office of Temporary Assistance and Disability, Hudson Capital, M&T Bank and Community Services for Every1. This type of partnership enables us to address State and local needs for affordable workforce housing.”
State financing for the Apartments at the Lyceum includes Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $8 million in equity and $3.9 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
Buffalo Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski said, “I am thrilled to welcome this development to the Fillmore District and the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. This development near historic St. John Kanty’s, bringing apartments and mixed-use development is more evidence that Broadway-Fillmore is coming back in a big way.”
The New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation approved Federal and State Historic Tax Credits that will generate $7 million in equity.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “We are seeing communities across New York State renovating and reinvesting in their historic buildings to help address critical current needs, such as affordable housing. Through federal and state historic tax credit programs, resources like the St. John Kanty Lyceum building can be transformed from an underutilized site into a true neighborhood asset. I applaud Governor Hochul for prioritizing stable, affordable, and equitable housing in Buffalo and throughout New York State and thank the many project partners for recognizing the value of investing in our remarkable historic resources.”
The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is providing $2.1 million from the Homeless Housing Assistance Program and NYSERDA awarded $525,000 through the Clean Energy Initiative. The city of Buffalo awarded $750,000 in HOME funds.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said, “The 12 permanent supportive housing apartments included in this development will provide not only a safe and affordable place to live for formerly homeless New Yorkers, but easy access to services to help them achieve stability and thrive. Governor Hochul has made a strong commitment to the development of supportive housing across the state and recognizes its importance in transforming communities and lives.”
Empire State Development is providing $500,000 through the Better Buffalo Fund, a $40 million fund that aims to create vibrant, mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods. It is focused on supporting projects that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The start of construction for the $23 million Apartments at Lyceum follows Governor Hochul’s announcement last week of funding for 11 transformative projects through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. The renovations that will convert the historic former school into affordable housing, along with the $10 million DRI award, demonstrate that the unprecedented investments in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood by our Governor is spurring new economic opportunities in East Buffalo.”
The Apartments at the Lyceum is part of Governor Hochul’s plans to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable.
“We are committed to doing right by East Buffalo, making it a better and more affordable place to live and creating new beginnings for the community,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
“New York State is not only investing in energy-efficient and modern homes but also creating a community service hub that will provide families with the resources they need to succeed. As a born-and-raised Western New Yorker, I’ve seen first-hand how this community has been left behind in the past – and I’m committed to turning the page as we build a better future,” she concluded.
In the FY 2023 State Budget, the Governor introduced and successfully secured a new $25 billion, five-year, comprehensive housing plan that will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across New York including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes.
Image courtesy of Edgemere Development.