Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition, Inc. (WNYVHC) is teaming up with Norstar Development USA, L.P. (Norstar) to construct affordable apartments in the former School 75 on Howard Street and construct 18 new rental homes on vacant lots nearby. The project has been in the works since 2017.
From the application to the Planning Board:
The proposed project includes a total of 65 affordable residential apartments. There will be four studio, 41 1‐bedroom and 2 2‐bedroom apartments located in P.S. 75 and 14 2‐bedroom and 4 3‐bedroom apartments in the new construction homes. The project will provide affordable housing opportunities to both Veteran and non‐Veteran households with maximum incomes ranging from approximately $16,000 to $54,000. P.S. 75 will also include approximately 2,700 square feet of non‐residential space. The nonresidential space will be occupied by WNYVHC and used as the organization’s new corporate office.
The proposed project seeks to preserve P.S. 75, which closed as a public school in 1979. Since that time, the building has been used for various purposes, but has been vacant for over 20 years and has fallen into a serious state of disrepair. While the structure maintains its historic integrity, its deteriorated condition poses a blighting influence on the surrounding community. As a project utilizing State and Federal historic tax credits, the scope of work will involve the preservation and replacement of interior and exterior elements to meet historic requirements. Existing brick and masonry will be repointed and 100% cleaned.
All windows will be replaced with new historic aluminum windows with matching muntin patterns. New windows at street level will be cut into the masonry located on the South façade and match all historic replacement windows. Four entry doors will be replaced with new doors to match the look of the original doors. An off‐street parking lot is proposed on the south side of the building for tenants and guests.
Landscaping elements on the perimeter of the parking area will be used as a buffer for adjacent properties. Exterior lighting is proposed, including lighting in the parking area, to promote safety and security. P.S. 75 also features a unique open‐air interior courtyard that will be repurposed with landscaping and seating areas.
The project also seeks to repurpose 25 parcels of land in the immediate neighborhood which have been vacant for nearly 30 years. The parcels are concentrated in 4 areas surrounding P.S. 75 located on Howard Street, Monroe Street, and Adams Street. Eighteen (18) new construction homes are proposed, including 17 2‐story homes and 1 single story ADA accessible home. The design of the structures evokes the scale and proportion of existing homes in the neighborhood. Proposed exterior elements include fiber cement siding and trim, vinyl windows, front and rear porches for outdoor seating, individual driveways located along the side of each structure, and rear yards for outdoor recreation – particularly important for households with children.
Upon completion, the proposed project will not only provide much needed affordable housing to individuals and families but will also work towards rebuilding the fabric of the existing neighborhood. A long‐vacant neighborhood institution and vacant parcels will be repurposed in a manner that adds value to the William‐Emslie Neighborhood and will act as an anchor for future community redevelopment efforts.
The project’s financing sources include Federal and State Low‐Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC and SLIHC) and subsidy program funding from NYS Homes & Community Renewal, Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program funding through the City of Buffalo, and energy efficiency incentives through NYSERDA.
WNYVHC is a local not‐for‐profit organization that has been dedicated to improving the lives of Western New York Veterans since 1987. Upon completion, WNYVHC will serve as the project’s owner and management agent. Additional team members include Stieglitz Snyder Architecture as the project architect and NK Star Construction, LLC as the general contractor. Norstar has been involved in a number of affordable housing projects in the area and is currently working on redevelopment of the Shoreline Apartment site on Niagara Street.
Work on the Howard Street project is expected to start later this year and be completed by the end of 2022.