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Mixed-Use Project Seen as Jump-Starting Masten District and Jefferson Avenue Renewal

Sinatra & Company Real Estate is teaming with public and private sector partners to bring new development to Jefferson Avenue in the Masten District. Sinatra is working with Creative Structures Services and People Inc. to construct a two-building, 84-unit mixed-use project on the west side of Jefferson, north of the Johnnie B. Wiley Sports Complex between Dodge and Northampton streets. Work on the $21 million project is expected to begin next spring with completion in early 2018.

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The residential component will be a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments consisting of 68 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom units. Sixteen of the apartments are expected to be reserved for independent living individuals with development disabilities. The balance will be for a mix of incomes ranging from 30 to 130 percent of area median income.

Project plans, which are being finalized, call for a large community room with small kitchen, on-site laundry facilities, green space, and courtyards. Each of the buildings will be three-stories with off-street parking. The 10,300 sq.ft. of planned commercial space will be geared towards stores and restaurants owned by, and serving, the local neighborhood.

“Our intention is not to bring in suburban stores but to provide space for locally-owned businesses that will provide an amenity to the building and community,” says Sinatra & Company Real Estate president Nick Sinatra.

Sinatra says he has been working on the project for two years. He began discussions early with community and faith-based groups and is working with Bellamy Enterprises which provides social services and has constructed affordable housing in the neighborhood.  The project will  utilize minority and women-owned businesses as professional consultants and contractors. CSS Construction will serve as general contractor.

State and local elected officials have been supportive from the beginning as well. “The City has been involved, helpful, and instructive,” says Sinatra.  “We’ve put together a diverse team and it has been a collaborative effort.”

Sinatra sees the project as “jump-starting development in the area” and says it is “important to get it right.”

“I see it as a catalyst to attract other investment into the neighborhood and along Jefferson Avenue,” he says. “It is big enough on a scale size to attract others and could be a game changer. It is important that this project has a good outcome because it could be a model for development elsewhere on the east side.”

“There has not been much investment in housing in the neighborhood,” says Sinatra. “There have been smaller projects and scattered infill affordable homes built. But generally, the housing stock is old and tired and a lot of it has been vacated and torn down.”

Sinatra believes that providing housing for a mix of incomes helps alleviate any fears of gentrification. “The project will offer different opportunities for folks of different incomes,” he says. “Some neighborhood residents do not want market-rate homes built and yet others don’t want any more affordable units. There’s a balance needed and that’s what this project strives to achieve.”

According to Sinatra, he sees demand for new housing for a wide spectrum of incomes in the neighborhood. Mixed-use rental housing can pave the way for new affordable and market-rate for-sale units.

“My hope is people will see opportunity there,” says Sinatra. He points to the existing housing stock which could be upgraded and land is available for new builds. “It could be individuals buying lots and building or a developer working with the City to obtain 50 to 60 lots to build new homes.” Due to mortgage and appraisal rules, Sinatra says a home builder would need to work with a government-backed agency or a bank that has flexibility on mortgages to kick-start the effort.

“Broadly-speaking, I hear from people all the time on the east and west sides asking for new, for-sale homes,” he says.  “There’s demand for it and you are seeing, and are going to see, developers building more condominiums and townhouses. People want to live in the city.”

Sinatra & Company has a lengthy portfolio of projects and investments in the Elmwood Village, downtown, and in the Medical Campus. In recent years he has been buying and redeveloping properties along Main Street including the three-building Fenton Village project at Main and Ferry streets and the upcoming Midtown Apartments at nearby 1665 Main Street. He sees the Jefferson Avenue project as a continuation of his focus around the Medical Campus.

There is a pack mentality in real estate investment and development. Look no further than Niagara Street, the Larkin District, and Ohio Street for proof. Sinatra does not shy from the pioneer label but notes it is a logical location for investment.

“There’s a healthy community there that is ripe for development. The Medical Campus is the biggest economic driver in Western New York right now. New development can only go two ways- east or north. The city is hot right now, taxes are low, and it is a great time to be investing. There’s also one place with land available to build new.  It’s the east side.”

Sinatra welcomes the challenge of transforming and revitalizing a neighborhood.

“I love these types of developments,” he says. “I get up every day and have a purpose. It’s an exciting time for the city which I love. Development on the east side is a challenge but it is an opportunity to help build it back up.”

Get Connected: Sinatra & Company Real Estate, 716.220,8468

Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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