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ESD announces application period now open for 5th round of $40 million Better Buffalo Fund


Wed, Dec 1st 2021 12:40 pm

Nonprofit community organizations and private developers encouraged to apply for funding to invest in revitalization of Buffalo

Empire State Development announced the application period is open for round 5 of the $40 million Better Buffalo Fund, which is dedicated to projects that revitalize neighborhood commercial districts and encourage density and growth along transportation corridors. In a change from past application processes – and in an effort to better streamline applications to the program goals – all applicants to this new round will first be required to submit a brief letter of intent (LOI) by 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20. Applicants whose LOI meets program requirements will be invited to complete a full application, which will be due in early 2022.

For round five, the geography for the fund has been extended to include a larger portion of Broadway (extending from Mortimer Street to Reed Street) and a portion of Abbott Road (between Robins and Cazenovia streets). See a map of target investment areas here.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “Through the Better Buffalo Fund, New York state continues to make significant investments in the City of Buffalo’s commercial corridors and along transportation routes. This targeted approach is transforming Buffalo at the neighborhood level and expanding economic opportunity throughout the city.”

A virtual public information session, scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8, will review the full program details. Those interested in attending can RSVP to [email protected] for a session link. For more information on the program, and to submit a LOI, click here.

As in the previous rounds, applicants may seek funding for one of two initiatives: transit-oriented development or Buffalo main streets.

Transit-Oriented Development

ESD said investing in transit-oriented development will help connect residents and visitors in commercial hubs throughout Buffalo, and build on the city's reputation as a vibrant, thriving city. It will also support modern amenities and infrastructure, well-designed and friendly neighborhoods, and a wide array of assets that are accessible to all residents.

Up to $2 million in gap financing via a loan or grant is available for projects that encourage the use of multimodal 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 the Bailey Avenue, Grant Street, Main Street, Niagara Street, Utica Street and Fillmore Avenue corridors.

Buffalo Main Streets Initiative

ESD said building renovation and public space enhancements are crucial to successfully revitalizing historic business districts and mixed-use neighborhoods in and around downtown Buffalo.

Grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 are available for nonprofit 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 the Abbott, 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 & Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Well-designed neighborhoods that connect people and businesses and enhance historic main streets are the key to strong local economies and livable communities. This latest round of the $40 million Better Buffalo Fund will continue creating exciting mixed-use neighborhoods that allow residents, visitors and businesses to take part in Buffalo’s renaissance and in all this vibrant city has to offer. I commend Gov. Hochul for streamlining the application process and expanding the reach of this important initiative.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “I thank Gov. Hochul and the Empire State Development for offering a fifth round of Better Buffalo Fund dollars. This is a tremendous program, which has been a big help to our small businesses and community organizations as we work to revitalize our business corridors citywide. I’m very pleased that the list of eligible corridors has been expanded to include a larger stretch of Broadway and a portion of Abbott Road.”

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the state and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. For more information, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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