Fund supports projects to encourage growth along transportation corridors and revitalize commercial districts

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced funding for 10 projects totaling $5.89 million through the fourth round of the Better Buffalo Fund. The program, launched in 2014, supports initiatives that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts. The latest round of funding will help complete the renovation of 129 residential units and more than 183,078 square feet of storefront and commercial space, while leveraging more than $52 million in private investment.

“We are making strategic investments through the Better Buffalo Fund that are reducing sprawl by encouraging transit oriented development and revitalizing neighborhoods in targeted areas of Buffalo,” Governor Cuomo said. “The comprehensive approach we’ve taken for Buffalo and Western New York is fueling the transformation of the city and generating economic growth across the region.”

The eligible area for the fund was extended to include Broadway, between Cedar and Mortimer streets, and Main Street, between Mohawk and Seneca streets. Today’s announcement was made at Black Rock Freight House, a mixed-use redevelopment project that transformed mostly vacant industrial space into 35 loft style, one, two and three-bedroom apartments and roughly 3,000-sqaure-feet of commercial space.  The commercial space will house a second location for Hatchets and House, which will open later this month.  This project by Common Bond Real Estate received a $750,000 loan in round three of the Better Buffalo Fund.

The Governor has committed $40 million to the Better Buffalo Fund through the Buffalo Billion initiative. After four rounds of the program, the Better Buffalo Fund has awarded more than $31.9 million to 51 projects. These projects are renovating more than 554 residential units and more than 514,200 square feet of store front and commercial space, while also leveraging more than $253 million in private investment in the City of Buffalo. See map here.

Transit-Oriented Development Awarded Projects

Four Transit-Oriented Development awards total $3.6 in loans. This program provides up to $2 million in gap financing, loans or grants for projects that encourage the use of multi-modal transportation and stimulate pedestrian activity though retail and neighborhood-oriented businesses and services, quality public space and accessible walkways. The target region for this development is within a quarter-mile walking distance of Buffalo transit stops on Bailey Avenue, Grant Street, Main Street, Niagara Street, Utica Street and Fillmore Avenue corridors.

La Plaza de Virginia – $1.87 loan

This $16.5 million project at 253-269 Virginia Street is a mixed-use infill, new construction project that will transform four lots in the City of Buffalo, including a deteriorated building and vacant underutilized land, into a three-story, approximately 50,933-square-foot mixed-use building that includes 46 units of affordable senior housing and approximately 8,678 square feet of commercial space on the basement and first floor for a cafe, Senior Service Center and office space for nonprofit service providers.

Musical Suites – $500,000 loan

This $4.8 million project at 415 Elmwood Avenue is an adaptive reuse of a historic building and an urban infill construction of a new building over an existing parking lot. The existing historic building will be converted into a 12-unit multifamily apartment unit building with a small first-floor professional office space. The new building will feature a first-floor open parking structure with the upper second and third floors consisting of 10 new multifamily apartment units for a total of 22 apartment units.

The Monroe – $750,000 loan

This $6.4 million project at 1786 Main Street and 1040 Lafayette Avenue is an adaptive reuse of the historic building, the former Record Theatre, that will create a walkable and vibrant urban space for modern uses on Main Street. Once completed, the project will include 15 market-rate apartments, a record store, a comic book store, a cafe and vegan doughnut shop, vintage clothing retailers, office space, a restaurant, facilities for bicycle-focused companies, and a community and private patio.

Olympic Avenue Housing – $500,000 loan

This $17.8 million project at 321 Olympic Avenue involves the adaptive reuse of the historic School 78 building and converting it into a 46-unit affordable housing community.

Buffalo Main Streets Initiative Awarded Projects

Six Main Streets awards totaling $ 2,275,000 in grants.

A program modeled on the New York State Main Street program, the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative provides grants ranging from $50,000 to $1 million to non-profit and neighborhood business associations in the City of Buffalo that will renovate some of the most promising spaces in the downtown area. The Buffalo Main Streets Initiative is targeting Allentown, Broadway, Chippewa Street, East Delavan, Elmwood Village, Grant/Amherst, Grant/Ferry, Hertel, Kaisertown, Lovejoy, Lower Niagara/Lakeview, Main Street, Seneca-Caz, South Park, Tonawanda/Ontario, Upper Niagara Street and Connecticut Street corridors. New York State Homes and Community Renewal will be administering these grants.

Broadway Pratt Gateway Neighborhood Alliance – $400,000 grant

The True Community Development Corp., in partnership with the Broadway Pratt Gateway Neighborhood Alliance, will use grant funds to assist in the renovation of boarded-up storefronts along Broadway (from Cedar to Mortimer streets) and creation of a streetscape project with Grassroots Gardens of WNY on a vacant lot. This project will leverage local and private owner funds to start the change needed for Broadway Pratt Gateway Neighborhood Alliance’s revitalization efforts.

Development for Delavan – $350,000 grant

UDCDA will use funds to work with property owners along Delavan Avenue to rehabilitate four commercial storefronts and four residential units that are located within mixed-use commercial properties.  This work will build on UDCDA’s efforts to reposition Delavan Avenue as a thriving East Side commercial corridor and hub of small business activity.

Historic Allentown Building Improvements – $500,000 grant

The Allentown Association will use grant funds to assist in the renovation of commercial storefronts and building renovations in historic Allentown. This project is expected to leverage local and private funds to continue Allentown’s commercial district revitalization efforts.

Buffalo Place Main Street Revitalization – $300,000 grant

Buffalo Place will use grant funds to assist in the renovation of buildings at an estimated total project cost of $2,108,308. The projects will leverage private funds to rehabilitate vacant and underutilized buildings, buildout space to attract first-floor tenants and develop much-needed new residential units. These projects will contribute to life on the street, increase the vitality of Main Street and continue Buffalo Place’s downtown revitalization efforts.

Seneca Street Project Phase III – $350,000 grant

Coalition for a Vibrant Seneca will use grant funds to improve viability and walkability of the Seneca Street corridor. Seneca Street Improvement Phase III targets an area between Weyand and Bailey avenues, carrying forward the work of two previous awards, and leverages bookend streetscape improvements at Onondaga Park and Seneca Bluffs.

Upper Niagara Street Black Rock Phase 2 Buffalo – $375,000 grant

The BRRAlliance will use grant funds to implement renovation to storefronts and apartments on Niagara Street in the Black Rock Village area of Buffalo. Renovations of Niagara Street and Market Square include needed storefront renovations; creation of spaces for new businesses; and upgraded, yet affordable, residential units.

Four target areas were removed from the program—Bailey, Broadway/Fillmore, Fillmore/MLK and Jefferson Avenue—as funding is being allocated to those areas through specific programming in the $50 million East Side Economic Development Corridor Fund.

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