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Hochul announces construction on $93 million housing complex bringing 237 affordable apartments to Buffalo


Tue, Jul 5th 2022 11:20 am

Pilgrim Village Family and Pilgrim Village Senior will replace existing housing

√ Development will be 100% electric and designed to achieve net-zero energy standards

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced construction began on side-by-side affordable housing developments with 237 apartments for families and seniors in the Fruit Belt area of east Buffalo. The $58 million Pilgrim Village Family and the $35 million Pilgrim Village Senior will be energy-efficient buildings designed to achieve net-zero energy standards. Forty-nine apartments will be set aside for vulnerable seniors who need on-site support services to live independently.

"All New Yorkers deserve to live in homes that fit their needs and give them an opportunity to thrive," Hochul said. "These two new all-electric buildings will expand access to healthy homes for families and seniors in east Buffalo while helping us meet our aggressive climate goals, and address housing, food insecurity and the economic challenges that are the result of years of disinvestment and neglect in East Buffalo."

In the enacted fiscal year 2023 state budget, the governor secured a $25 billion, five-year housing plan that will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across New York, including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes. This announcement builds on a $50 million investment announced in mid-June to strengthen east Buffalo, improve quality of life, and create long-term strategies to address systemic challenges.

The new Pilgrim Village complex replaces the existing Pilgrim Village, which was constructed in 1979 and has fallen into disrepair. The original garden-style apartment buildings are being demolished to make way for the two new multifamily buildings.

Pilgrim Village Senior will have 105 apartments for individuals aged 55 and older. Forty-nine apartments will be reserved for seniors in need of supportive services to live independently. On-site services that promote emotional, mental and physical health will be funded through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Department of Health and provided by Catholic Charities of Buffalo.

Pilgrim Village Family, which is located adjacent to Pilgrim Village Senior, will be home to 132 apartments with a ground-floor community facility space and approximately 5,000 square-feet of commercial space.

All 237 apartments at the two developments will be set aside for households with income at or below 60% of area median income. Additionally, 89 of the apartments will benefit from existing HUD Project-Based Section 8 rental assistance vouchers.

Amenities will include indoor community space, green space, walking paths, gardens, sitting areas, a pergola, ground-level parking spots, a playground, a computer lab, a gym, a library and in-unit washer/dryers and dishwashers.

The new Pilgrim Village development will be 100% electric, designed to achieve net-zero energy standards. Rooftop solar arrays will help offset the buildings' energy loads. Both buildings are designed to meet the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's low-rise new construction tier III program standards.

The development site is adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, home of the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and within one of five strategic investment areas in Buffalo's strategic plan for urban development. Residents will be within walking distance of the nearby rail station and less than a block away from City Honors School.

State funding for Pilgrim Village Family includes $5 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal low-income housing tax credits that will generate $24.9 million in equity, and $5 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. NYSERDA's New Construction-Housing Program provided $528,000. Additionally, the site participated in the Department of Environmental Conservation's brownfield cleanup program, which is expected to result $5.7 million in tax credits upon the project's completion.

State funding for Pilgrim Village Senior includes $4.1 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal low-income housing tax credits that will generate $15 million in equity, and $9.3 million in subsidy from HCR. NYSERDA's New Construction-Housing Program provided $420,000. Additionally, the site participated in the DEC's brownfield cleanup program, which is expected to result in $4.1 million in tax credits upon the project's completion.

The project developer is SAA | EVI.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "With 237 affordable apartments, the new $93 million Pilgrim Village complex is a game-changer for Buffalo's east side. Not only are we funding the replacement of obsolete townhouses and cleaning up industrial waste, but we are also creating a highly energy-efficient and healthy community that will boast great amenities, including green space designed to get people of all ages outside and enjoying their surroundings. On behalf of HCR, we are proud to see multigenerational, supportive housing like the new Pilgrim Village join other developments that we've completed or have underway right here. Our efforts, tethered to the state's new $50 million initiative to directly address some of east Buffalo's most glaring inequities – including food insecurity and the racial wealth gap – will help bring this community back and begin the process of true healing in the wake of the awful shooting at Tops Supermarket. Thank you to Gov. Hochul, the City of Buffalo and our development partners for helping us accomplish lasting change in this east side neighborhood."

President and CEO at NYSERDA Doreen Harris said, "The vision for Pilgrim Village Apartments represents the state's commitment to ensuring every New Yorker not only has access to housing that is affordable, but that is also sustainable and healthy for occupants, and good for the environment. NYSERDA is pleased to see construction begin on this all-electric housing development that, once completed, will set the bar for building to net-zero energy standards."

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC is proud to partner with Homes and Community Renewal, NYSERDA, DOH and other partners in helping bring affordable housing to Buffalo, and working under Gov. Hochul's leadership to revitalize and clean up communities across the state. This is a great example of what our state's successful brownfield cleanup program achieves, by restoring and redeveloping underutilized properties to benefit seniors, families, and all New Yorkers."

State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Good health is dependent on access to healthy environments. The development of supportive housing units at Pilgrim Village will provide more seniors in Buffalo with new living spaces that promote their health, well-being, and overall quality of life. I am thankful for our partners across New York State who share in the Department of Health's commitment to consider the full scope of public health betterment in our work, which includes equitable access to quality housing."

Hochul extended and expanded New York’s brownfield cleanup program, which was set to expire in December. The program is reauthorized for 10 years. Her team said the budget improves the BCP by incentivizing cleanups in disadvantaged communities.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, "This is substantial growth in the availability of affordable housing for seniors and families in the City of Buffalo. Pilgrim Village provides quality, modern, and environmentally friendly living in a neighborhood close to schools, parks and businesses that will serve as a wonderful place for Western New Yorkers to call home. Federal low-income tax credits make this over $92 million investment feasible."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "Affordable housing is a critical need across Erie County and affects urban, suburban and rural communities, as I noted at our recent Live Well Erie Housing Summit. Developments like the new Pilgrim Village complex address that need and provide safe, affordable, energy-efficient homes to families and seniors. These 237 apartments add vitality to the Fruit Belt neighborhood and are a good example of how we can both meet housing needs and build stronger communities."

Mayor Byron Brown said, "This 237-unit residential project is another step forward in increasing the availability of affordable housing for families and seniors in the City of Buffalo. The new Pilgrim Village will be an attractive, affordable and modern housing option with convenient access to transit and the amenities like Masten Park. I thank Gov. Hochul, our state lawmakers, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and developer SAA | EVI for making this investment in a development that reflects our residents' current and future needs."

David Alexander, managing partner, SAA | EVI, said, "I grew up in Buffalo less than two (miles) from Pilgrim Village. I spent my early childhood attending public school on the Buffalo's east side. The first office for our company was located at Main and Summer Street just a few blocks from the Pilgrim Village construction site. We are, as a company and as individuals, incredibly proud to be part of the renaissance occurring in Buffalo and even more proud to be part of the beautiful community and neighborhoods that make up Buffalo's east side. We are ‘One Buffalo!’ "

Connor Kenney, regional director, SAA | EVI, said, "We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to revitalize the Pilgrim Village site with new, high-quality affordable housing. The original Pilgrim Village property was built in 1979. Although the property was partially demolished before we took over ownership, many folks still lived on the site. It was a pleasure getting to know the residents and families who lived at the property – some of whom have called it home since 1979 – and we are very much looking forward to welcoming everyone back once we finish construction."

Deacon Steve Schumer, Catholic Charities president and CEO, said, "Catholic Charities is thrilled to be involved with these affordable apartments that will mean so much to so many people in this significant east Buffalo neighborhood. Today is a great day to celebrate the results of many months of planning with shovels in the ground. We are anxious to bring our services to support the new community of residents when the project is complete."

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