Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the start of construction on the Apartments at the Lyceum in east Buffalo.
Her team said, “The $23 million development will transform a historic former school into 42 affordable and supportive apartments and community service hub in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood of east Buffalo. Today's announcement builds upon Gov. Hochul's historic $50 million of targeted investments earlier this year to address the vital needs of this community.”
Hochul said, "We are committed to doing right by east Buffalo, making it a better and more affordable place to live, and creating new beginnings for the community. New York state is not only investing in energy-efficient and modern homes, but also creating a community service hub that will provide families with the resources they need to succeed. As a born-and-raised Western New Yorker, I've seen first-hand how this community has been left behind in the past – and I'm committed to turning the page as we build a better future."
In the fiscal year 2023 state budget, the governor introduced and successfully secured a new $25 billion, five-year, comprehensive 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 project involves the renovation of the historic St. John Kanty Lyceum building at 97 Swinburne St., as well as 10 adjacent lots. The school's classroom and offices will be transformed into 42 affordable apartments, with 12 apartments reserved for households in need of supportive services. These residents will have access to rental subsidies and services funded through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Community Services for Every1 will provide services such as case management, financial counseling, workforce development, and referrals to health, child care, and public benefit services.
The existing kitchen, cafeteria and activity room of the building will be renovated into 7,600 square-feet of community space for afterschool programming, culinary arts and healthy eating education, and independent living and job readiness training services to both future residents and members of the surrounding neighborhood. The St. John Kanty Parish will sublease a portion of the space for parish activities.
The project's design will celebrate many of the building's distinct architectural designs and finishes. The existing two-story auditorium will maintain its historic vaulted ceiling and additional features will be restored to their original appearances.
As part of the building's modernization and decarbonization efforts, it is also designed to meet the requirements of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's New Construction Housing Program and 2020 Enterprise Green Communities. Energy-efficient elements include Energy Star or equivalent appliances, an EV charging station, low-flow plumbing fixtures, increased insulation, and the installation of new lighting, HVAC systems, windows, and roofs.
Hochul’s team said, “The building will be highly energy efficient and have no use of fossil fuel use on site. The 10 adjacent parcels surrounding the school will be developed into parking, greenspace with an accessible playground, and walking areas. Additional residential amenities will include a community room, laundry room, storage, and free broadband internet service.”
Community Services for Every1 is also the project's developer. Edgemere Development is the consulting developer.
State financing for the Apartments at the Lyceum includes Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $8 million in equity and $3.9 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation approved Federal and State Historic Tax Credits that will generate $7 million in equity. The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is providing $2.1 million from the Homeless Housing Assistance Program, and NYSERDA awarded $525,000 through the Clean Energy Initiative. The City of Buffalo awarded $750,000 in HOME funds.
Empire State Development is providing $500,000 through the Better Buffalo Fund, a $40 million fund that aims to create vibrant, mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods. It is focused on supporting projects that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said, "The 12 permanent supportive housing apartments included in this development will provide not only a safe and affordable place to live for formerly homeless New Yorkers, but easy access to services to help them achieve stability and thrive. Gov. Hochul has made a strong commitment to the development of supportive housing across the state, and recognizes its importance in transforming communities and lives."
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Ensuring that all New Yorkers have equitable access to housing that is clean, resilient and healthy for its occupants is a critical mission that NYSERDA is honored to partner with New York State Homes and Community Renewal on our $100 million Clean Energy Initiative. With the start of construction at the Apartments of Lyceum, we see a new beginning and modernization for this historic structure that will provide increased access to energy efficient affordable housing for east Buffalo residents."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "The United States is facing an affordable housing crisis, and Western New York is not immune – especially in Buffalo. This investment in the historic St. John Kanty Lyceum building will provide a safety, stability and independence for survivors of domestic violence, families, and people with disabilities, while extending support to the surrounding neighborhoods. It builds on efforts to restore our city's historic architecture, while addressing the urgent need for sustainable and affordable housing."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Congratulations to Community Services for Every1 on breaking ground for the Apartments at the Lyceum. While Broadway-Fillmore can no longer be considered a forgotten neighborhood, it will need to see a prolonged and concentrated effort to make and sustain impactful change through projects like this. Thank you, Gov. Hochul and NYS Homes and Community Renewal, for continuing to invest in Buffalo's east side."
Community Services for Every1 CEO Mindy Cervoni said, "These awards address significant unmet needs for affordable and accessible housing in the City of Buffalo. Apartments at the historic St. John Kanty Lyceum will create Erie County's first permanent supportive housing program explicitly developed for survivors of domestic violence, and will allow Community Services to assist them with any factors that contribute to their housing instability. Gov. Hochul's continued support for these projects is addressing the issues of homelessness and domestic violence, while affecting positive and meaningful change in our communities."
An artist’s rendering of Apartments at the Lyceum. (Image courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)