Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the first recipients of funding through the Better Buffalo Fund, a $30 million Buffalo Billion initiative dedicated to projects that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts. A total of $11,722,500 was awarded to 21 projects, including nine on the East Side, which will contribute to the renovation of more than 200 residential units and more than 50,000 sq.ft. of store front and commercial space.
“This key part of the Buffalo Billion is aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods and businesses, and with today’s announcement, more main streets and more neighborhoods will have the resources they need to help take part in this region’s transformation,” Governor Cuomo said. “We remain committed to investing in Buffalo and continuing the momentum that is moving Western New York forward.”
The fund aims to create vibrant, mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods and is focused on giving all residents of the City of Buffalo greater access to the major employment hubs—projected to create thousands of jobs and increase the city’s tax base. Announced as part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, it will create stronger transit and transportation access linkages between neighborhoods and existing and growing employment centers, job training and services. Applicants applied for grants and revolving loan funds through the Better Buffalo Fund for one of two initiatives—Transit Oriented Development and Buffalo Main Streets.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard A. Zemsky said, “With targeted grants funding mixed-use development projects, the Better Buffalo Fund will revitalize Buffalo’s commercial corridors and bring residents back to the city’s neighborhoods, strengthening its communities and securing its economic future.”
The announcement took place at 1423 Fillmore Avenue, a property that will receive facade improvements as part of a $300,000 matching grant to the Community Action Organization of Erie County from the Better Buffalo Fund. The Community Action Organization’s award will assist seven commercial property owners along Fillmore Avenue from East Ferry to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park with a variety of facade improvements. The grant will also provide streetscape enhancements—including interpretive historical signage through the Buffalo Story/Ferry Street Corridor Project—that continue to build on recent federal and city infrastructure improvements developing a gateway entrance to the Fillmore Avenue commercial corridor.
An additional project, the Mid-Town Apartments, is receiving a $1.2 million loan. The Mid-Town Apartments is a high density development that will increase the number of residents and create a more walkable neighborhood on Main Street between East Delavan and East Ferry. The project will transform 1666 Main Street—a 6-story, 100,000 square foot, early 20th century structure currently used for storage—into mixed-use occupancy with first floor retail space and five floors of 60 residential apartments. The building will be marketed as workforce housing for those who work or study on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus or desire to be close to downtown. Storefront space will target much needed amenity-based retail or service oriented commercial.
There will be another round of Better Buffalo Fund funding later this year to continue the revitalization of Buffalo’s neighborhoods and main streets. Empire State Development will offer technical assistance to non-profits that may need assistance in preparation for the next round of Better Buffalo Fund Main Street funding.
Transit-Oriented Development Awarded Projects
Eight Transit-Oriented Development awards totaling $7,950,000 in grants and loans.
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 ¼ mile walking distance of transit stops on Main Street, Niagara Street, Bailey Avenue, Utica Street and Grant Street 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.
Lisbon Commons – $2,000,000 loan
Applicant: Livionia HDFC/CB-Emmanuel Realty, LLC
Project Address: 91 Lisbon Avenue
The rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of vacant and National Register-eligible former School #63 will create approximately 45 mixed-income workforce rental apartments.
Niagara Gateway Apartments – $1,810,000 loan
Applicant: Regan Development Corporation
Project Address: 885 Niagara Street
This renovation of a vacant, historically significant former warehouse into a mixed-use development consists of 53 affordable rental units as well as two commercial units for retail and services on the first floor. It will target eight residential units for homeless refugees and contribute to the vibrant immigrant community on Buffalo’s West Side.
Turner Brothers Lofts (entry image) – $1,500,000 loan
Applicant: Niagara Street Buffalo, LLC/Schneider Development
Project Address: 285 & 295 Niagara Street, Buffalo
This mixed-use redevelopment project will adaptively reuse 55,000 sq. ft. of vacant historic inventory into 40 apartments and a gourmet food processing and associated retail space on the ground floor.
The Midtown Apartments – $1,200,000 loan
Applicant: 1665 Main Street Group, LLC/ Sinatra & Company Real Estate
Project Address: 1665 Main Street, Buffalo
This mixed-use building features retail on the first floor and five upper floors of 60 residential units.
960 Busti – $800,000 loan
Applicant: 9271 Group, LLC/Ellicott Development
Project Address: 960 Busti Avenue
This adaptive reuse project will transform an existing building into a vibrant mixed-use concept including 18 apartments on the 3rd and 4th floors and commercial office space on the 1st and 2nd floors.
New Multi-Use, Three-Story Building at 363 Grant Street (Potomac) – $440,000 loan
Applicant: HES Properties I, LLC
Project Address: 363 Grant Street
This project includes the construction of a new, three-story, mixed-use building on a vacant lot featuring 2,659 sq. ft. of commercial space and 11 apartments.
Bellamy Commons – $100,000 grant
Applicant: Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, Inc.
Project Address: 1484, 1486, 1490 Jefferson Ave., Buffalo
This adaptive reuse project includes 30 units of affordable rental housing and commercial space including a museum and the local offices of the NAACP.
1373 Main Street – $100,000 grant
Applicant: Bethesda Community Development Corporation
Project Address: 1373 Main Street, Buffalo
Better Buffalo Funds will assist with Phase II of this project—converting the second floor of this mixed- use building into 6 apartments.
Buffalo Main Street Initiative Awarded Projects
**Thirteen Main Streets awards totaling $3,772,500 in grants.
A program modeled on the New York State Main Street program, the Buffalo Main Streets will assist in the revitalization of historic downtowns and mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts. The program considered grant requests from non-profit organizations or business associations 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 reviewed and will be administering these grants.
Adaptive Reuse of former St. Margaret’s School – $500,000 grant
Applicant: 1391 Hertel LLC/Iskalo Development
Project Address: 1391 Hertel Avenue
The comprehensive interior and exterior renovation of the of the former St. Margaret’s elementary school, will create an adaptive reuse, mixed-use building consisting of 23 apartments and approx. 2,000 sq. ft. of commercial space fronting Hertel Avenue.
Gerard Place Community Education Center – $500,000 grant
Applicant: Gerard Place Housing Development Fund Company
Project Address: 2563 Bailey Avenue
This project involves the conversion of the former St. Gerard Parish Hall into a Community Education Center offering employment and educational training and a gymnasium of recreational use.
Broadway Fillmore – BBF Main Street Initiative – $300,000 grant
Applicant: Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.
Project Address: Broadway-Fillmore intersection, Buffalo
Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services, in partnership with the Fillmore Corridor Neighborhood Coalition, will implement a neighborhood- based Main St. program adjacent to the Broadway Market. The program will target existing commercial business owners, property owners looking for facade improvement assistance, and new businesses looking to locate in the neighborhood.
Grant Ferry – $300,000 grant
Applicant: Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company, Inc.
Project Address: Grant between Auburn & Hampshire and West Ferry between Parkdale & Herkimer
The project will include renovations to a minimum of 10 commercial and 48 residential units. Improvements will include façade, signage, lighting, roofs, window replacement, door, electrical work, plumbing , drywall, flooring and kitchen and bathroom renovations.
Better Schools Better Neighborhoods Fillmore Avenue Business Project – $300,000 grant
Applicant: Community Action Organization of Erie County, Inc.
Project Address: Fillmore Avenue from East Ferry to MLK Park
This project involves exterior improvements to commercial corridor businesses such as façade, signage, lighting, door and window replacement, and painting and masonry work. Streetscape enhancement will help develop a gateway entrance to the Fillmore Avenue commercial corridor.
Elmwood Village Main Street Initiative 2015 – $300,000 grant
Applicant: Forever Elmwood d/b/a the Elmwood Village Association
Project Address: Elmwood Ave. from Lafayette to West Ferry; Lexington to Bryant; and North to Allen
Funds will be used to support renovations to commercial and residential units based on needs identified in Elmwood Village’s 2014 Neighborhood Plan.
Lower Niagara Street Buffalo Main Streets Initiative – $300,000 grant
Applicant: Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc.
Project Address: Niagara St. between Georgia St. and Porter Ave.
Contributing to the revitalization of this mixed-use neighborhood on the Lower West Side, Heart of the City Neighborhoods will assist with the renovation of at least 11 commercial and 13 residential units, as well as provide streetscape enhancements within the targeted blocks.
Seneca Street/Caz Commercial Corridor Building Renovation Fund – $300,000 grant
Applicant: Old 1st Ward Community Association
Project Address: 2064 Seneca – 2178 Seneca Street
This project will support the renovation of four currently vacant commercial buildings in order to facilitate the expansion of existing businesses, as well as to create the opportunity for new businesses.
Niagara Street Cornerstone – $282,500
Applicant: Vision Niagara
Project Address: 1225 Niagara Street
In partnership with a local developer, this project involves the complete interior and exterior renovation of the property consistent with historic standards, local development plans and neighborhood initiatives. Plans include one first floor commercial unit (2,000 square feet) and three upper story residential units totaling 3,400 square feet.
Lovejoy Revitalization – $275,000
Applicant: Iron Island Preservation Society of Lovejoy, Inc.
Project Address: Lovejoy St. from Bailey Ave. to Goethe St.
This building improvement and business district revitalization project will provide for interior and exterior improvements, correct code deficiencies, and facilitate architectural services, as well as provide streetscape improvements to ensure the long-term economic viability of the mixed-use buildings in the district.
Theater Renovation and Expansion with Outdoor Stage – $175,000
Applicant: Torn Space Theater
Project Address: 608 & 612 Fillmore Avenue
This project includes façade and interior renovation of the existing theater and adaptive reuse of the adjacent cement block building into a workshop, video sound lab and office finished with stainless steel panels, making it a unique signature building. Adjacent abandoned lots will be transformed into an outdoor stage for community use.
Parkside Candy Initiative – $125,000 grant
Applicant: University District Community Development Assn., Inc.
Project Address: 3208 Main Street
This project involves major restoration of the building’s exterior, interior improvements and equipment to the commercial space, and the renovation or two upstairs, residential units.
Grant/Garner Cornerstone Revitalization – $115,000 grant
Applicant: Westminster Economic Development Initiative
Project Address: 398 Grant Street
The rehabilitation of this vacant, mixed-use “cornerstone” property will result in two residential apartments, a corner cafe or retail store, and accessible professional offices.