It is hoped that in the New Year, we will see more investments on the city’s East Side. Along with those investments, we will hopefully see more historic buildings preserved for future development projects. If you’ve ever traveled around the East Side, it’s easy to see how many structures are presently at-risk of crumbling and/or demolition by neglect. It’s time to stabilize as many of those buildings as possible, before it’s too late. Already we have lost countless, unfortunately. For a city that prides itself on preservation, the East Side has been an entirely different story.
Earlier this month, Preservation Buffalo Niagara (PBN) partnered with Empire State Development, University at Buffalo Regional Institute, and the City of Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspection Services to launch the East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund. The intention behind this initiative is to help stabilize at-risk historic buildings, which there are many.
The $5 million East Side Avenues Initiative, part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, is now accessible via applications that are due on or postmarked by Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. These first-round funding award applications are open to property owners who have the desire to preserve East Side buildings for prospective mixed-use, retail, commercial, or residential development.
The first round of funding will consist of $500,000 that will be administered by Preservation Buffalo Niagara. Additional funding rounds will follow. These funds will help building owners to tackle immediate issues that are problematic to the integrity of their buildings, regardless of code violations or structural deficiencies. We have lost too many at-risk buildings due to “smaller” issues that escalated quickly. These oft-preventable dire circumstances could have been alleviated with proper roof patching and other mothballing precautions. Now, grants of up to $50,000 will support crucial and timely seal-up efforts, according to PBN.
“Across the City of Buffalo, we have seen the role that preservation has played in the health and opportunities of our neighborhoods,” said Jessie Fisher, Executive Director of PBN. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to ensure that the East Side is not left out of the social and economic benefits afforded by a commitment to preservation of place.”
The program is open to owners of commercial and mixed-use structures that were built more than 50 years ago and meet additional program criteria as outlined in the program guidelines.
“The East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund is an important placemaking resource that invests in the preservation of historic neighborhood structures and encourages their future restoration,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “These community strengthening measures are key to Buffalo’s continued resurgence.”
This fund will provide support for near-term stabilization of at-risk historic buildings on the East Side.
East Side Avenues Co-Chair and M&T Bank Community Reinvestment Manager Brad Dossinger said, “Historic preservation is an important element of any economic development strategy—especially in a region rich with history and beauty like Buffalo. More than any other area of the city, the East Side has historic buildings in danger of demolition by neglect. By stabilizing and preserving historic buildings on Buffalo’s East Side, the Commercial Building Stabilization Fund will ensure the community’s unique history, beauty and sense of place are retained and can help serve as a building block for ongoing, community based economic development.”
The full program guidelines and applications can be found at preservationbuffaloniagara.org/east-side-commercial-building-stabilizationfund.
First-round funding award applications are due on or postmarked by Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. For more information, contact Bridge Rauche at (716) 852-3300 or email@example.com.