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$31 million mixed-use housing development completed in Buffalo


Tue, Aug 3rd 2021 04:50 pm

City's east side revitalization continues with Jefferson Avenue Apartments, 90 new homes and commercial space for local nonprofit organizations

√ Project supported by Buffalo Billion initiative to promote economic development

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday morning announced the completion of a $31 million mixed-use housing development on Buffalo's East Side. Supported through his Buffalo Billion initiative to revitalize neighborhoods and improve transportation, the Jefferson Avenue Apartments feature 90 affordable apartments, including 16 units with supportive services and more than 16,000 square-feet of commercial space.

"Affordable and supportive housing are a critical component of our efforts to create vibrant communities and build New York back better than it was before," Cuomo said. "The Jefferson Avenue Apartments will provide New Yorkers with safe, affordable housing along with life-enhancing services that will help the most vulnerable among us to live comfortably and in independent settings."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said, "We not only want to provide every Western New Yorker with the dignity of a roof over their head, but also the keys to opportunity. The completion of new commercial and affordable housing on Jefferson Avenue is yet another important step in Buffalo's economic comeback helping to enhance quality of life by providing access to the support services people need."

The Jefferson Avenue Apartments include 71 one-bedroom and 19 two-bedroom apartments across two adjacent three-story buildings. The development also features 16 units reserved for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, with on-site supportive services provided by People Inc.

The ground floors of both buildings include a total of 16,500 square-feet of commercial space, which will include a People Inc. recruitment office and other agency office space, as well as rooms for training new staff and community meetings. Sinatra and Company Real Estate, the development's leasing agent, has secured the Northwest Banking Center, run by Belmont; Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Inc.; and ABC Learn and Play 2 as tenants for the commercial space.

Running through the city's East Side, Jefferson Avenue is a main thoroughfare that is close to Buffalo's Medical Campus, Route 33 and downtown Buffalo. The development is served by three bus routes and is adjacent to a park, a grocery store and a small shopping center.

The revitalization of Jefferson Avenue as a commercial corridor with affordable housing is a priority infrastructure project for Buffalo. The project's co-developers are People Inc. and Sinatra & Company Real Estate.

The Jefferson Avenue Apartments were designed to meet Enterprise Green Communities criteria and NYSERDA's Low Rise New Construction Program. Energy-efficient features include Energy Star high-efficiency furnaces with direct expansion cooling and high-efficiency domestic water heating equipment; low-flow and water sense labelled plumbing fixtures; Energy Star lighting with sensors; advanced air sealing techniques; and higher-than-code levels of insulation.

Amenities include community rooms with kitchens and laundry facilities in both buildings, a playground, and additional outdoor green space. Murals on the outside and artwork inside the building were provided through a partnership with People Inc. and the WNY-Urban Arts Collective. This creative community collaboration was designed to reflect People Inc.'s mission of inclusion and represent the rich history of Jefferson Avenue. It was created by several local artists.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal's financing for the Jefferson Avenue Apartments includes $1.3 million in tax-exempt bonds; federal and state low-income housing tax credits that generated $12.5 million in equity; and an additional $9.3 million in subsidy. The state Department of Environmental Conservation allocated Brownfield tax credits that generated $2.9 million in equity.

The state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities provided $2.2 million in financing in addition to rental assistance for the 16 supportive units while Empire State Development provided a $1.5 million loan from the Better Buffalo Fund. The project received $500,000 in HOME funds from Buffalo in addition to support from NYSERDA.

The Jefferson Avenue Apartments are part of the governor's $20 billion, five-year housing plan to make housing accessible and to combat homelessness by building or preserving more than 100,000 affordable homes and 6,000 homes with supportive services. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested more than $307 million in Buffalo, which has created or preserved more than 3,200 affordable homes.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, HCR is building mixed-use housing developments that create thriving downtowns and expand residential neighborhoods. Our $31 million investment in the Jefferson Avenue Apartments provides 90 affordable and supportive energy-efficient homes and activates the streetscape with ground floor commercial space along this important corridor on Buffalo's East Side. This is how we build inclusive communities where people want to live, work and visit."

State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Theodore Kastner, M.D., M.S., said, "This project at the Jefferson Avenue Apartments in Buffalo is yet another example of Gov. Cuomo's ongoing commitment to ensuring that people with developmental disabilities have greater opportunities to live as independently as possible in the community while receiving the supports they need to flourish and be successful. OPWDD is proud to partner with the Homes and Community Renewal on this project, which will be a positive and life-changing experience for the people who make their home in one these supported units."

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Once again, New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program is advancing the redevelopment of abandoned and underutilized properties to benefit our communities. The Brownfield Cleanup Program is a powerful tool in Buffalo's rebirth, and the revitalization of former industrial sites statewide, and DEC is thrilled to have a role in helping this project become a reality."

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "The completion of this mixed-use housing development provides sustainable affordable housing that is paired with access to nonprofit resources and support services to deliver a high quality of life for its residents. The Jefferson Avenue Apartments offer a comfortable living environment with advanced energy-efficiency features that provide superior heating, cooling, lighting, plumbing and insulation performance resulting in lower energy bills and reducing harmful emissions as part of the state's efforts to ensure that all New Yorkers benefit from our clean energy transition."

Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, "The Better Buffalo Fund is advancing economic development by promoting smart growth through transit-oriented development in the City of Buffalo. The Jefferson Avenue Apartments are just the latest example of a new, mixed-use development that contributes to the vibrant commercial district on Buffalo's East Side. Residents of these new apartments will benefit by having easily accessible, new affordable housing close to other services and amenities. We congratulate you on a project that is a definite win for Buffalo's East Side."

People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick said, "I'm so proud to have People Inc. provide affordable, high-quality housing and amenities, which helps people to remain in the historic Jefferson corridor that they cherish. This project is a shining example of what can be accomplished when local government and community organizations work together. As we welcome the tenants to their new homes, on behalf of People Inc., I'm thankful to all of our partners, funders and elected officials for the support, collective creativity and dedication that brought this project to completion."

Mayor Byron Brown said, "Affordable, quality housing continues to be one of my top priorities, and People Inc.'s innovative affordable housing development, which includes units for persons with disabilities, is a great fit with that mission. Since 2006, my administration has strategically committed $58 million for affordable housing projects that have leveraged $470 million in development and created over 2,266 new housing units for city residents, senior citizens and veterans."

Sinatra & Co. Founder and CEO Nick Sinatra said, "We are thrilled to work with People Inc. to facilitate the delivery of quality, affordable housing along Jefferson Avenue. This exciting project is a catalyst for additional development. It is a blueprint of how to provide the community with much-needed new housing units, along with neighborhood amenities that contribute to sustainability and vibrancy."

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