The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) Board of Commissioners is taking some bold steps to upgrade three of its housing developments. This investment into the properties would be the largest redevelopment initiative in the history of the BMHA, and comes at a time when municipal housing is more important than ever due to the pandemic. The three housing units that will be “re-envisioned, re-developed, and re-positioned” are Commodore Perry, Marine Drive (lead image), and Shaffer Village. Thus far, the BMHA Board unanimously voted to “enter negotiations with three development groups to create comprehensive plans.”
“The redevelopment of the Perry, Shaffer and Marine Drive developments represents an extraordinary opportunity to reshape the face of public housing in the City of Buffalo. The three teams selected today represent a mix of extremely knowledgeable and committed national and local developers with demonstrated track records of success,” said BMHA Executive Director Gillian D. Brown. “Under the leadership of Mayor Brown, and in collaboration with the City of Buffalo, BMHA can now embark on a comprehensive rebuilding of some of our oldest and most distressed public housing. By committing to the continued health of these large family developments, we are demonstrating our continued belief that there is a place for public housing in this City, and that public housing can be housing of choice, and not housing of last resort.
“Obviously, COVID-19 imposes new challenges on the public planning process, but we are hopeful that a robust and inclusive planning process can be accomplished during 2021, so that construction can begin as soon as possible. These projects will all involve multiple phases, and many millions of dollars in public and private financing.”
This past February, the BMHA issued a national request, in search of qualified candidates that could tackle the project. Out of 17 individual developers and development groups that were vetted, seven were asked to present proposals. Three ultimately rose to the top. The next step is for Gillian D. Brown to negotiate with the teams in order to draft Master Developer Agreements. The agreements should be in place by January, 2021, upon which time the planning stage will commence. Lastly, construction is expected to begin in 2022.
The RFQ evaluation committee, which included the BMHA Executive Director Brown, Assistant Executive Director Modesto Candelario, BMHA General Counsel Roslyn L. McLin, Brendan Mehaffy, Executive Director, City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning and Director of Planning Nadine Marrero, selected the following groups:
Commodore Perry – Pennrose LLC, headquartered in New York City
Pennrose proposes to redevelop Perry as a bridge between Canalside and Larkinville, updating and expanding the 2014 Perry Choice Plan, bringing life back to acres of Perry which has hundreds of vacant, dilapidated apartment buildings. WRT Design + Planning, the Philadelphia, firm which created the Perry Choice plan, will be part of the Pennrose team.
- 50 years as a private, full-service real estate development firm;
- One of the nation’s leading developers of mixed-income and mixed-finance developers with 4,500 units totaling over $1.3 billion since 2015;
- Strong relationship with HUD regionally and nationally;
- Pennrose team has vast experience in all facets of pre-development process, with high levels of engagement of residents, stakeholders and elected officials.
Marine Drive – The Habitat Co., Chicago and Duvernay + Brooks (D+B), New York City
The Habitat/D&B team proposes to rethink the entire layout of Marine Drive and create a mixed-income, mixed use development. The team would like to open up the interior of the property to better connect it to the waterfront and Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park. The firms would also like to add educational, social and medical services to Marine Drive.
- Habitat Co./Duvernay + Brooks team has 70 years of combined experience in affordable housing finance and development;
- 15,000 affordable and mixed-income housing units valued at $2.7 billion, including projects with five public housing authorities in New York State;
- D+B is a state-certified woman-owned business and both firms have strong track records on utilization of local minority and women-owned and small businesses for their projects.
Shaffer Village – Buffalo Equitable Housing Collaborative (a partnership of The Richman Group, Stamford, CT, JHM Financial Group, New York City and Penman Development Partners, of Buffalo)
The BEH team proposes to expand Shaffer by changing its layout, building on an empty lot and merging the property boundaries with the surrounding neighborhood. Its vision includes a combination of new construction and renovation of existing housing units, adding a large community center and addition of onsite social services.
- Strong track record with financing and constructing affordable housing;
- Deep experience working with HUD and public housing authorities;
- Mix of regional and local development experience with a combined portfolio of more than 150,000 housing units value at over $1 billion.
“BMHA’s action today reflects my Administration’s commitment to affordable housing and moves Buffalo closer to my vision of 40 percent of housing units in the City of Buffalo remaining affordable permanently. This will be one of the largest investments in affordable housing in the county and one of the largest development investments in Buffalo over the next decade. Through creative and thoughtful planning that engage the residents of BMHA, this effort will transform outdated structures and poorly utilized sites into housing developments that fit the new Buffalo, but more importantly, will provide housing, health, and economic benefits that will positively impact the residents of BMHA for generations,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown.
Along with this significant news of BMHA housing development upgrades, the Board also announced that additional investments to the tune of nearly $1.9 million would be made to replace roofs on six, high-rise apartment towers in the Perry development. Allstate General Contracting, of West Seneca was awarded that contract, with work beginning next spring.