Better Buffalo Fund Project Adds Commercial and Residential Space to “Historic 500 Block” District – Photos Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the ribbon cutting for The Alexandre Apartments in downtown Buffalo. The project, part of the Better Buffalo Fund, featured the conversion and historic renovation of a vacant 19,530 square foot, seven story building at 510 Washington Street in Buffalo. Formerly the Loew’s Theatre Warehouse, the 1920s concrete structure was converted, at a cost of $5 million, into new commercial/retail space on the first floor and 12 market-rate, loft apartments on floors two through seven. The Better Buffalo Fund, part of the Buffalo Billion initiative, dedicates funding to projects that revitalize neighborhood commercial districts and support growth along transportation corridors.
“Downtown Buffalo continues to thrive thanks to continued investments into projects like the Alexandre Apartments,” Governor Cuomo said. “This renovation brings renewed purpose to an historic building rich with potential and adds to the revitalization of an up and coming neighborhood, attracting visitors and businesses alike to take part in all this growing area has to offer.”
“This project is another investment to continue the momentum of progress and growth in downtown Buffalo,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended today’s ribbon cutting event. “As more businesses are moving in and more buildings are being revitalized downtown, we’re also adding housing so our workforce has a shortened commute and good quality of life. As a native Western New Yorker who experienced our more difficult years, I’m proud to see the city now being transformed into the new Buffalo.”
The property was purchased by Allentown residents, Amy and Mark Judd, who had a vision to transform the derelict warehouse into a mixed-use residential building that will contribute to the revitalization of the historic block. Before its adaptive reuse the building exhibited decades of blight and decay in a rapidly transitioning neighborhood. This development will increase the number of residential units and quality of commercial space on the block. The building is the tallest building in the local preservation district that has seen a wave of reuse projects in the last five years, including new apartments, restaurants, commercial space, and even owner-occupied residences.
The Alexandre Apartments includes a mix of one-and two-bedroom loft-style units. A portion of the residences are ADA accessible and the project includes energy efficient mechanicals, electronic entry, associated Wi-Fi controls, LED lighting and energy efficient appliances. The commercial space is rented to The Washington Street Bakery, a wholesale/retail bread bakery.
Designed by Thomas W. Lamb, the nearly 100-year-old structure was completed in 1920 for the Loew’s Theater Company for housing theater props, stage components and theatrical equipment. This historic downtown property has been vacant and non-contributing to the city’s tax role for 18 years. It is part of the “Historic 500 Block” local preservation district within the Central Business District of downtown Buffalo and was the last remaining historic structure in this district to be redeveloped.
Funding for this project came from the following sources:
- $2.8 million construction loan from Community Preservation Corporation. To date, CPC has invested nearly $192 million in the Buffalo area to finance 2,500 units of housing.
- $2 million SONYMA-insured permanent loan from CPC financed through its partnership with the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which Comptroller DiNapoli serves as a trustee. The CRF has invested nearly $136 million in Buffalo and the Western New York area to fund construction of more than 4,000 residential units.
- $750,000 Better Buffalo Fund Loan to offset the costs of the renovation of 510 Washington Street. Through two rounds of the program, BBF has awarded more than $20 million to 35 projects. These projects are renovating more than 450 residential units and more than 190,000 square-feet of store front and commercial space, while also leveraging over $223 million in private investment in the City of Buffalo. Round three applications are now being reviewed and awards will be announced this spring.
- $50,000 Main Street grant from New York State Homes and Community Renewal to assist with facade work and the first-floor commercial space.
- $50,000 reimbursement grant from National Grid.
- ECIDA Board of Directors approved approximately $142,000 in sales tax benefits on construction materials and a one-time reduction in the mortgage recording fee for additional savings of approximately $19,125.
In addition, the adaptive reuse and redevelopment of 510 Washington Street is set to receive Federal and NYS Historic Tax Credits, which are administered by the National Park Service in conjunction with the NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation.
As a nonprofit housing finance company with a more than 40-year history of serving communities throughout New York State, the Community Preservation Corporation works with their partners who understand the importance of investing in projects that help breathe new life into neighborhoods and connect them with their historic past. Historic buildings, including former factories and warehouses which were once hubs of economic activity throughout New York can be put back into use as new housing and retail space – again serving as anchors neighborhoods and drive economic investment and development.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund said, “Securing a sound investment return for the retirement system of New York’s public workers is my priority. When we can achieve this objective and invest in our local communities, it is a winning combination for the state pension fund. We are pleased to be a part of this exciting initiative in Buffalo.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Transforming underused buildings, like the newly renovated Alexandre Apartments, into homes at the city’s center—a draw for the young adults who are staying or returning to Western New York after decades of decline—is part of our ongoing, strategic investment in the region and a goal of the Better Buffalo Fund.”
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “HCR is proud to support the commercial space and façade work at Alexandre Apartments, turning a vacant and blighted building on a historic block into an asset that residents and the entire city will enjoy. This is a great example of how New York State under Governor Cuomo’s leadership is reshaping our urban and rural communities through revitalization that incorporates housing and retail to create vibrant neighborhoods.”
The Alexandre Apartments, LLC Managing Member Amy Judd said, “Back in 2014 when we bought the building at 510 Washington Street it was an eyesore and a burden on the historic 500 block of Main Street neighborhood. Now today, we are so thrilled to show you all what we have accomplished since then. My husband and I offer our heartfelt thanks to Community Preservation Corporation, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, Empire State Development, Buffalo Place, National Grid, the US National Park Service Historic Tax Credit program and the NY State Historic Preservation Tax Credit program for their financial support on this project. They all believed in us to see our vision to fruition and we could not have done it without their help. The hard work of our designers and tradesmen has transformed this vacant spot into a vibrant place to live. Our fantastic neighbors are investing in a brand-new business that will occupy the first floor commercial space and bring new jobs, something downtown Buffalo needs more of. Building by building, this neighborhood has been reimagined by regular people, like us. We are so proud to see the changes to our city and dream of many more days such as this one.”
Senator Tim Kennedy said, “Once again, New York State’s Better Buffalo Fund is spurring redevelopment in the City of Buffalo, and working to preserve and restore historic structures that are part of the fabric and history of our local communities. The transformation of the former Loew’s Theatre Warehouse into the Alexandre Apartments is a renovation worthy of celebration, and I applaud Amy and Mark Judd for seeing their vision into reality.”
Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, “This $5 million project is a great example of adaptive reuse. The activity and energy from the continued resurgence of Main Street’s 500 + 600 blocks has expanded over to Washington Street. Projects like this would not have been possible without the Better Buffalo Fund, SONYMA, and the Community Preservation Corporation. I congratulate Amy and Mark Judd for their vision and passion and look forward to them working on more quality projects in the near future.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The development of the Alexandre Apartments represents the synergy among the private sector, New York State and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to rebuild our community. All played a role in the completion of this project that adds vibrancy to the City. It is a right-sized project that is a welcome addition to the housing and business mix on Washington Street.”
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “As Chairman of the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, we are happy to have provided a loan in the amount of $750,000 to support the Alexandre Apartments project. Working together with Amy and Mark Judd, Empire State Development and our other public and private sector partners has made the incredible $5 million transformation of this historic property a reality, furthering my administration’s efforts to create a live, work and play environment in downtown Buffalo.”
Thomas McGrath, Senior Vice President & Director of Upstate Revitalization at the Community Preservation Corporation said, “The Alexandre Apartments speaks to CPC’s mission of investing in housing projects that breathe new life into old buildings to revitalize New York’s historic downtown areas. We’re proud to support our borrowers like Amy and Mark Judd who had a vision of transforming a derelict warehouse into a resource that will serve both the economic and housing needs of this community for years to come. My thanks to Governor Cuomo, Mayor Brown and all of our local elected officials, to the Judd family for their partnership, and to Comptroller DiNapoli and our funders at the CRF for their commitment to investing in housing opportunities throughout the state.”
Erie County Industrial Development Agency President & CEO Steve Weathers said, “The ECIDA recognizes the economic importance of revitalizing our urban core, and The Alexandre Apartments is a perfect example of how smaller, independent developers can utilize our adaptive reuse program to bring these blighted buildings back to life.”
Empire State Development administers the BBF grant and revolving loan fund for Transit Oriented Development projects that emphasize growth within existing corridors and encourage alternative transportation and walkability. Up to $2 million in gap financing is available for projects that promote housing, employment and retail development within a quarter mile walking distance of Buffalo transit stops on Bailey Avenue, Grant Street, Main Street, Niagara Street and Utica Street corridors. Learn more about the Better Buffalo Fund here.
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