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Development Update: Broadway

Dr. Uzo Ihenko’s proposal to repurpose 343-345 Broadway into a mix of residential, retail, and commercial space is a significant addition to the resurgence of Broadway between downtown and Jefferson Avenue. The long-overlooked area is in the shadows of downtown and is loaded with potential. The recent investment activity has been thirty years in the making.

Neighboring streets have seen hundreds of new single-family homes constructed, nearly all subsidized, that filled-in once decimated blocks. It started with Willert Park Village, a mix of single-family detached and duplexes, all-brick and built by M.J. Peterson Co. The architectural style was selected to resemble the character of city housing. Construction started in 1982 and consisted of 27 homes selling for $25,000 to $30,000 each in the Hickory/Pratt/Sycamore Street area. Homes cost $70,000 to build but sales prices were reduced through Community Development Block Grant funding. Homes were built on vacant, City-owned lots. The development won the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence in 1989.

Early sales success let to additional phases in the immediate vicinity and eventually led to more homes in the area bounded by Jefferson Avenue to the east, William Street to the south, Pine Street to the west and Genesee Street to the north. Unfortunately, the home designs were simplified in successive phases and the term “vinyl Victorian” was born. Design misgivings aside, the new homes stabilized what was a once transient, half-vacant neighborhood.

Though side streets have filled in, Broadway remained relatively untouched.  Much of the streetscape has been removed by urban renewal and other demolitions, a project in 1999 saved one of the more prominent historic buildings. HELP USA’s Hickory Street Apartments consists of 25 units of service-enriched housing for formerly homeless adults. The three-story building at 384 Broadway has a distinctive corner tower. HELP USA is now rehabbing a building across the street and constructing a significant addition to create 47 new apartments.

At Broadway and Michigan, a development team led by architect Steve Carmina has a $6 million adaptive reuse project underway. The complex of buildings will be redeveloped into 18 apartments and 9,052 sq.ft. of commercial space, indoor parking, a restaurant, and 2,000 sq.ft. donated for use by the local chapter of the NAACP. Michael Anderson of Abstract Architecture purchased 313 Broadway at the corner of Cedar Street and is rehabbing the property for his use.

Link to Pdf map here

There are numerous other sites available for redevelopment including vacant lots and historic buildings. The City has been seeking state financial help to create a public works campus. If successful, the streets department facility at 201 Broadway could be redeveloped. Known as the Broadway Barns, it was previously used as an auditorium and a portion of the complex was an armory built in 1858.

In what may be the largest “neighborhood ready” site close to downtown, the Buffalo Forge Plant property has been vacant since 2006. Covering the full-block of Broadway, Sycamore, Spring and Mortimer streets, the factory’s owners, Howden Buffalo, applied for and received permission to demolish the complex due to unsafe conditions and structural problems.

Howden Buffalo participated in the NYS Brownfield Cleanup Program but the status of the remedial work was not available. The 7.9-acre property (12.5 acres including the employee parking lots east of Mortimer Street) has drawn development interest, most recently from a church-based development corporation interested in a residential project. That effort stalled and the property remains available- a blank slate within a short walking distance to Lafayette Square.

East Side development faces many challenges including low population density, real or perceived crime, an undetermined need or demand for new residential and commercial space, and a likely gap between potential rent or sale prices verses construction costs. But with demand for downtown residential living showing no signs of slowing down, a dearth of redevelopment-ready buildings downtown, and a close-in location, the stars are lining up for Broadway. In real estate, no one wants to be first in, and the pioneering projects along Broadway have set the stage for others.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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  • Flyguy2pt0

    Decades of violent crime leading to a negative perceptions. Not much of a shocker to me. Its not real or perceived crime. Its real and perceived crime. The crimes are very real, very well documented, tend to be the epicenter of violence in the entire region many times over. Put your hand on a hot stove top you probably don’t want to go do it again. No surprise to me that people with the ability to get away from street drama have abandoned that area and let lunatics take over the asylum there. I feel bad for those who are still there and care for their neighborhood because its been one hell of a battle to fight against the tide of predators.

    This area needed decades to burn out so the predators would move further east to greener pastures where there was new housing stock to turn into flop houses and destroy. Its been an eastward moving bulldozer due to the actions of gangs. The east side near downtown is now getting some attention because its been gutted and is basically virgin land again without a high density of maniacs without a damn to give about others or the community. Mark my words Cheektowaga is next in line for the bulldozer. This wasnt the case 15-20 years ago but as years go by watch what happens. Signs of this garbage already starting.

    In addition to urban renewal and other demolitions that were cited for Broadways woes how many structures were also lost to arson? How many neighborhoods in the entire WNY area experience the amount of structure fires that the east side does?

    • eagercolin

      Yes, the war on drugs has been a very bad thing.

    • JKR

      WTF!?! That is just far too much BS to rip into. I wish there was a burning cross emoji because this who diatribe wreaks of racism however mainly ignorants that is blissful in Western New York.

    • Ward Scardino Jr

      You really hit the nail on the head. The problem is that people are too afraid to tell it how it is. You were able to do that by keeping it real, and there was not even a hint of racism in anything you’ve said, but the narrow-minded will take it that way, unfortunately. Why sugar-coat things when it makes them less than factual?

    • Rand503

      Cheektowaga and Sloan better watch out. They stood on the sidelines and pretended that what happens across that imaginary line doesn’t affect them, but it eventually will, if unchecked.

      I have no answers, but yes, I am outraged that so much destruction has been fires, arson and blight.

  • Ra Cha Cha

    I love ze Dahlingback Block, dahling.

  • Ra Cha Cha

    Seriously, investment in Broadway could bode well for the future of St. Ann’s Church and Shrine, just east of Jefferson on Broadway.

  • commonsense

    This is amazing news, I hope these projects come to fruition and the momentum carries over to the other vacant buildings on Broadway, as well as the few other sites on side streets, such as the Kraft and Son Livery on Archie, the seemingly vacant Iroquois Brewing and the sheet metal stamping buildings across the street on Pratt, the old Laux building on that corner, a Broadway theater rehab would be amazing, etc etc. All good stuff here…

    • commonsense

      Word on the street is that the Iroquois Brewing building is now on the market as well.

  • Rand503

    Broadway! We need to restore the Sattler Theater so we can have our own Great White Way.

  • Doug Wallis

    The first thing comes to my mind is that the eastside is still treeless and barren which re-inforces the sterility of the neighborhood. Get “Trees Buffalo” do a major planting on the eastside, especially on the major radials: Williams, Sycamore, Broadway, etc.
    The 2nd thing not to leave it purely to the developers. Come up with a master development plan. Do you want historic properties saved and developed? Do you want architectural infill to have period designs that complement blend the historic properties. Do you want new modern/contemporary infill to blend with the period of the neighborhood? What kind of density do you want? Are you going to build midrises on the main radials and residential on the sidestreets so renters on the radials become owners on the side streets? If you leave it to developers then every corner is going to be a walgreens, rightaid and 7/11.

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