The Zoning Board of Appeals will be reviewing plans tomorrow to convert former School 75 into low-income apartments for former service members. The Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition is proposing 47 apartments in the closed school located at the corner of Howard and Monroe Streets. Eighteen additional units, detached one and two-story homes and duplexes, would be constructed on nearby vacant lots. Parking for 32 cars is proposed south of the school.
The Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition (WNYVHC) is working with Norstar Development USA on the $28 million project. The school and lots are being purchased from the City and SWBR is designing the project.
In addition to the rental apartments, the former school building will include a community room for resident use, programming/service space, laundry facilities, and the management office space. The grounds of the building, including the original interior courtyard, will be used for outdoor recreation for residents. The apartments will be available for households with annual incomes at or below approximately $28,000 and $47,000, depending on household size.
An Area Variance is sought to allow no side yard setbacks on the new construction where three feet is normally required. From the project application:
Allowing the adjacent structures to share a ‘party’ wall helps save on the cost of additional exterior cladding and foundation walls, while improving energy efficiency by reducing building area exposed to the exterior. It also offers improved functionality to residents by combining two narrow side yards into one, more usable side yard.
The difficulty was self-created in that the structure design is a creative approach to ensure the overall financial feasibility of the project, which will provide much needed affordable housing and will help to stitch together the fabric of the neighborhood. The proposed design and use are in line with the character of the neighborhood and within the spirit of the requirements of the UDO. Upon completion, the project will have a lasting, positive impact on the community in which it is located.
WNYVHC was founded in 1987 to provide housing for homeless Veterans and Veterans with special needs. Since then the organization has expanded its focus by developing and managing residential housing for “low income” persons, severely disabled, homeless, and other persons who have “special needs”. They currently manage four apartment complexes consisting of 100 units in the city. It provides housing, case management, and program services to individuals who might otherwise face homelessness.