Better Buffalo Fund Affordable Housing Development Complements Governor Cuomo’s Commitment to Revitalizing West Side
New York State and elected officials, and project partners celebrated the ribbon cutting for a 53-unit affordable housing development on Buffalo’s West Side that includes homes for homeless refugees. Called the Niagara Gateway Apartments, the development is supported by the Governor Cuomo’s Better Buffalo Fund and features the adaptive re-use of a three-story Romanesque style brick building constructed between 1905-06 that originally housed the Buffalo Milk Company. 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.
The Governor’s commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing is reflected in the State’s unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building or preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing – enough to house every resident in the City of Buffalo. The plan, which includes 6,000 units of supportive housing, is a comprehensive approach to statewide housing issues and includes multifamily and single-family housing, community development, and rent stabilization.
Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Niagara Gateway Apartments is a concrete example of Governor Cuomo’s vision of combining housing and economic development to revitalize a community. Expanding affordability and connecting with community needs, such as housing for homeless refugees on Buffalo’s West Side, is critical to strengthening our neighborhoods and growing the economy. Niagara Gateway Apartments adds to the mix of space for retail or service businesses that will deliver jobs and opportunity to the area.”
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The Better Buffalo Fund was created to support vibrant, mixed-use communities like the Niagara Gateway Apartments, which brings a vacant building back to life to provide affordable housing on Buffalo’s West Side.”
Regan Development Corporation developed Niagara Gateway Apartments to include two spaces for retail and tenant services on the first floor. Eight apartments are designated for homeless refugees, with The International Institute of Buffalo providing referrals and supportive services for these residents. Many of the 10,000 refugees who have settled in Buffalo over the past decade live on the West Side, where they have renewed deteriorating neighborhoods and helped strengthen the economy.
The building also has an elevator, community room with kitchen, laundry facilities on each floor, a playground with green space, and off-street parking.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal provided almost $2.9 million in financing for the development, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $8.4 million in equity. Federal Historic Tax Credits generated $3 million in equity, and Historic Tax Credits Administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation generated nearly $2 million in equity. The Community Preservation Corporation provided a $9.3 million construction loan to finance Niagara Gateway Apartments.
The Empire State Development Corporation provided a $1.8 million loan through its Better Buffalo Fund. 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.
Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said, “The Niagara Gateway Apartments project shows how underutilized buildings can be repurposed to revitalize communities, preserve local heritage and create much-needed housing. With the assistance of the Historic Tax Credit program, New York State is leading the nation in promoting sustainable neighborhoods while preserving the historic fabric of our cities and towns.” County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Buffalo’s West Side has been revitalized in recent years with new populations bringing new life and vibrancy to the neighborhood. That trend will continue with the completion of the Niagara Gateway Apartments, new housing that will bring more families and individuals into this historic community and will also provide a welcoming home and safe space for refugees beginning their lives in America. This new energy builds the community, the economy, and Erie County.”
Mayor Byron Brown said, “Repurposing our historic buildings to create homes that Buffalo residents can afford makes families, neighborhoods, and the entire city stronger. I am proud to see the former Buffalo Milk Company transformed into a community asset and I thank Governor Cuomo and all the partners who made this a reality.”
Larry Regan, President of Regan Development Corporation said, “Regan Development is proud to serve as a tool for the revitalization and growth of the Niagara Gateway corridor by preserving and restoring the historic Buffalo Milk Building and adding it to the National Register of Historic Places. The team effort of the City of Buffalo, Governor Cuomo’s team and HCR and ESD, Regions Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank and CPC has allowed for the development and repurposing of the building into 53 affordable rental units being made available to Buffalo and Erie County families, including eight units for incoming international refugee families looking for a new start in Buffalo.”
Senator Chris Jacobs said, “I would like to congratulate Regan Development on this stunning project that renovates an historic structure that will now provide more a affordable, high quality housing options for residents of the West Side of Buffalo.”
Senator Tim Kennedy said, “Time and again, the Better Buffalo Fund provides an important and necessary focus on smart growth, and fuels connectivity between the places where people work, live and spend their leisure time. This new mixed-use affordable housing development on Buffalo’s West Side will help foster a vibrant neighborhood that provides a safe place for our families to live and grow.”
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “The Niagara Gateway Development is a much needed addition to our community. This development is taking what had become a historic eyesore and turning it into a project everyone in the neighborhood can be proud of. Affordable housing is something we have a great need for in Buffalo, and this development will provide a great service to our community. We can only hope that developers see this project as a model for the future.“
Council Member David Rivera said, “We are seeing a significant transition on the West Side of Buffalo with new residential development projects not often accessible to many long-time residents of the West Side and many recent residents who have resettled here from all over the world. I am grateful to New York State Government continuing to fund affordable housing and supporting historic preservation and to Regan Development for its vision and commitment to making this the best project possible. A significant historic building was saved and restored and is filling a need of quality, affordable housing in a neighborhood where we’re seeing the direct impact of rising costs of living. Thank you to my colleagues in State and Local government for coming together on this important project.”
Eva Hassett, Executive Director of the International Institute of Buffalo said, “For a century, the Institute has assisted refugees and immigrants who have arrived in Buffalo to seek a new life and a chance to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ We are grateful to Governor Cuomo, Empire State Development and Homes and Community Renewal and Regan Development for the opportunity to continue our mission of serving newcomers at Niagara Gateway Apartments.”
Mike DeWitt, Senior Vice President and Regional Director at the Community Preservation Corporation said, “The Niagara Gateway Apartments speaks to the power that mission-driven investments in housing can have in serving the unique needs of a community. The transformation of this important historic structure is something we should all be proud of. Not only are we helping to return this beautiful building to productive use, it will be a vital source of quality affordable housing that will provide a safe and supportive environment, allowing those in need live with dignity and the respect they deserve. I’d like to thank our long-time partners at Regan Development, Governor Cuomo’s team and HCR and ESD and Mayor Brown for their support.”
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.