June 22, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces $7.7 Million in Better Buffalo Fund Awards

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced 11 projects, including five on the East Side of Buffalo, received awards totaling $7,780,930 through round three of the Better Buffalo Fund. The fund was established to support projects that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts. This third round of funding will help complete the renovation of 172 residential units and more than 130,795-square-feet of storefront and commercial space, while leveraging over $64.26 million in private investment.

 

"The Better Buffalo Fund is bringing new life to neighborhoods across the region, while shining light on business and job opportunities for residents," Governor Cuomo said. "This comprehensive approach to economic development has already transformed the region, and New York will continue to support Buffalo's growth to ensure a stronger, more vibrant community for decades to come."

 

A key initiative of Governor Cuomo's revitalization efforts in Western New York, the Better Buffalo Fund aims to create vibrant, mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods, while improving access to the major employment hubs by creating stronger transit and transportation linkages between neighborhoods employment centers, job training and services. Applicants applied for grants and revolving loan funds through the Better Buffalo Fund for one of two initiatives - Transit Oriented Development and Buffalo Main Streets. 

"Growing up in Western New York, I would never have imagined seeing the type of investment in neighborhood development and transportation corridors that the Better Buffalo Fund is supporting," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today's announcement in Buffalo. "Since day one, the Governor and I have enacted a transformationally inclusive neighborhood-driven strategy to define our economic recovery, because we only succeed when everyone has a chance to achieve the American dream - we will never leave anyone behind. That has been our commitment, and today's announcement of the latest round of funding for the Better Buffalo Fund reaffirms that promise."

 

The Governor has committed $40 million to the Better Buffalo Fund, via $30 million in Buffalo Billion I and $10 million in Buffalo Billion II. Through three rounds of the program, the Better Buffalo Fund has awarded more than $28 million to 46 projects. These projects are renovating more than 622 residential units and more than 320,000 square-feet of store front and commercial space, while also leveraging over $287.7 million in private investment in the City of Buffalo.


There will be a fourth round of Better Buffalo Fund funding that begins in early 2019 to continue the revitalization of Buffalo's neighborhoods and main streets.


Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard A. Zemsky said, "This new round of funding will help to continue and complete Better Buffalo Fund projects that have followed a placemaking strategy in revitalizing city neighborhoods and commercial districts, connecting people to homes, jobs and futures in Western New York."


New York State Homes & Community Renewal Commissioner & CEO RuthAnne Visnauskas said,"Building rehabilitation projects assisted through the first two rounds of the Better Buffalo Fund are revitalizing commercial corridors throughout the City of Buffalo. This third round of the BBF will usher in the next group of high-impact projects to strengthen the city and make its neighborhoods better places to live."


Jeff Belt, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and president of SolEpoxy said, "The Better Buffalo Fund combines state, local and private sector resources to make targeted capital investments in priority areas of Buffalo. The projects announced today will revive and beautify Buffalo neighborhoods and attractions. The Better Buffalo Fund is polishing the gems of our amazing City."

 

Dr. Virginia Horvath, WNYREDC Co-Chair and State University of New York at Fredonia President said, "The Better Buffalo Fund works because it was developed based on the region's smart growth strategy and focuses on strengthening existing resources like employment hubs and anchor institutions, as well as creating reinvestment opportunities in our urban centers.  This is a program we can all be proud of."


Senator Tim Kennedy said, "This latest round of Better Buffalo Fund awards will continue the success of the Buffalo Billion program.  Neighborhoods across the city have benefited from it already, and I am excited to see the progress that will come from these latest awards. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in fighting for the Buffalo Billion, which has helped to transform Buffalo."


Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo, Howard Zemsky, Mayor Brown and the WNY Regional Economic Development Council, the Better Buffalo Fund has become a great tool to help revitalize neighborhoods. There is always a wealth of deserving projects and it's our goal to ensure that they serve as a catalyst for additional investment and are a source for community pride. I am thrilled that many of these projects are in the 141st Assembly District and encourage interested parties to apply for the 4th Round of funding soon to be announced."


Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "Governor Cuomo's focus on Western New York continues to deliver critical resources for the development of Buffalo. From transportation infrastructure to neighborhood development, the Better Buffalo Fund is investing in Buffalo's future.  We've seen our neighborhoods grow as a result of the Better Buffalo Fund, and the projects announced today will ensure that growth continues. This program ensures that everyone is included as Buffalo continues its amazing revitalization, and we thank the Governor for his dedication to our city."

 

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, "Revitalizing designated commercial districts will only help to strengthen and improve our region by making the City of Buffalo an even more attractive place to live, work and do business. The Better Buffalo Fund was strategically developed to enhance our region with creative mixed-used projects that will hopefully encourage further economic development from the private sector for years to come."

 

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "The Better Buffalo Fund is a tremendous tool for businesses and nonprofits along transit and commercial corridors in the City of Buffalo resulting in improvements in our neighborhoods. Through the three rounds of this great program, 46 Buffalo businesses and community organizations have received nearly $28 million. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for making the Better Buffalo Fund part of his game-changing Buffalo Billion initiative."

 

Better Buffalo Fund awarded projects included below:


Transit-Oriented Development Awarded Projects

 

Six Transit-Oriented Development awards totaling $6,130,930 in grants and loans.

 

This program is a grant and revolving loan fund for up to $2 million in gap financing for adaptive reuse or infill capital projects, which promote dense development (housing, employment and retail) within 1/2 mile walking distance of transit stops on Main Street, Niagara Street, Bailey Avenue, Utica Street, Grant Street, and Fillmore Avenue corridors; and encourage the use of multi-modal transportation, and stimulate pedestrian activity through retail and neighborhood-oriented businesses and services, quality public spaces and accessible walkways.

950 Broadway - $2,000,000 loan

Applicant: Cedarland Development Group           

The $5.79 million project, at 950 Broadway Street, involves rehabilitation and conversion of a commercial building that is currently vacant and underutilized into a mixed-use, multifamily workforce housing project, including first floor commercial space and approximately 26 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. It builds on the momentum of nearby investments, such as the city's installation of bike paths, stabilization/rehab of local properties by Broadway-Fillmore NHS and the Albright-Knox's investment in a mural (Welcome Wall) directly across the street.           

 

Jefferson Avenue Apartments - $1,902,094 loan

Applicant: People Inc.

This $31 million mixed-use project includes the construction of two new three-story buildings totaling 89-units of affordable and middle-income rental housing located at 1140 Jefferson Avenue. 16 apartments will be set aside for people with developmental disabilities, and include support services to enable those people to live independently. People Inc., the developer and an experienced human service provider, will provide supportive services to residents of these units. Additionally, a portion of the commercial space will be leased out, in order to provide human services to the community at large. The balance of the commercial space is expected to be occupied by commercial/retail tenants as well as not for profits.

 

TOD at 65 Northland - $170,156 grant

Applicant: ArchType LLC

The new four-unit apartment building at 65 Northland Avenue will be a modern, sustainable, and financially feasible home. The current site is a vacant lot, that sits in the center of several bus routes and adjacent to the subway on Buffalo's East side. The $850,000 project will utilize sustainable geothermal heating and cooling significantly reducing the cost and reliance on fossil fuels.

 

Blackrock Freight House - $750,000 loan

Applicant: Common Bond Real Estate           

This $9.98 million mixed-use redevelopment project located at 68 Tonawanda Street, will transform over 37,000-square-feet of mostly vacant industrial space into 37 two-bedroom apartments and roughly 3,000-square-feet of commercial space for which tenants are currently being identified.           

 

72 Sycamore Street - $359,000 grant

Applicant: Preservation Buffalo Niagara in partnership with Signature Development LLC

Signature Development LLC has acquired one of the oldest buildings in downtown Buffalo, 72 Sycamore Street f/b/o Preservation Buffalo Niagara with the intent to redevelop it as an arts hub destination within the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. The $1.75 million project will redevelop the building into an arts hub destination with four live/work artist space and 3,000 square feet of office space that is programmatically tied in with the important heritage area on Michigan Street.

 

The Kyndall Building- $949,680 loan

Applicant: R Kyndall Development Group, LLC

This $5.9 million project will develop vacant lots located at 647, 649 and 651 East Delavan into a new 13,000 square foot, three- story mixed use building. The building will include 12 mixed-income apartments with on-site parking and ground level commercial or retail space.

 

Buffalo Main Street Initiative Awarded Projects

 

Five Main Streets awards totaling $1,650,000 in grants.

 

A program modeled on the New York State Main Street program, the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative will assist in the revitalization of historic downtowns and mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts. The program considered grant requests from non-profit organizations for building renovations and public space enhancements in discrete, mixed-use target areas, with direct coordination from the local non-profit community based organization/business association. New York State Homes and Community Renewal will be administering these grants. 

 

North Buffalo Infill - $500,000 grant

Applicant: The North Buffalo Organization

The North Buffalo Organization will use grant funds to assist in the $7 million development of the 1585 Hertel mixed-use development. The project is expected to leverage local private funds and will continue the revitalization of the Hertel Avenue Business District in North Buffalo. The proposed project site is located at 1585 Hertel Avenue on the southeast corner of Hertel Avenue and Parkside Avenue.

 

Vibrant Seneca Street - $300,000 grant

Applicant: Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo

The Wellness Institute will use grant funds to assist in the renovation of storefronts and apartments. This $300,000 project will leverage streetscape funds from the City of Buffalo, as well as private funding to continue the revitalization of Seneca Street and the surrounding neighborhood. The target area is within the Seneca Street commercial corridor between Cazenovia and Epson street. This area begins with the historic Shea's Seneca Theater and finishes off at the highly acclaimed Cazenovia Park.

 

Grant Street Buffalo Main Streets Initiative - $300,000 grant

Applicant: Heart of the City Neighborhoods Inc.           

Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc. will use grant funds to assist with the $384,000 renovation of storefronts and attached residential units, as well as providing streetscape enhancements on Grant Street in Buffalo between West Ferry and Potomac Avenue. The proposed project will leverage private funds to continue the revitalization of this mixed-use corridor in the heart of Buffalo's West Side.

 

Black Rock Revival - $300,000 grant

Applicant: West Side Black Rock Neighborhood Housing Services           

West Side Black Rock Neighborhood Housing Services and the Grant Amherst Business Association will use grant funds to assist in the $570,000 renovation of properties in a target area between Grant and Bridgeman Renovation work will include facade restorations, including historic elements, masonry restorations, new windows, signs, awnings and lighting. These projects expect to leverage local and private owner funds to continue the GABA/WSNHS commercial district revitalization efforts.

 

1235 Hertel Avenue - $250,000 grant

Applicant: Forever Elmwood Corporation

The Elmwood Village Association will use grant funds to assist with the planned $2.5 million adaptive reuse of 1235 Hertel Avenue. The reuse is expected to leverage upwards of $2.5 million in private funds to extend the renaissance of a walkable Hertel Avenue business district westward. The reuse will result in 1235 Hertel Avenue being returned to both city and county tax rolls.           

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