Many East Side res­i­dents felt short­changed by the state

The Buffalo News - - CON­TIN­UED FROM THE COVER -

The money will sup­port his­toric as­sets, boost projects that have demon­strated mo­men­tum, aid new busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs and pro­mote walk­a­ble ar­eas.

“This is a good plan be­cause it will bring other re­sources from pri­vate de­vel­op­ers, and gives us an op­por­tu­nity to have a mix­ture of hous­ing, pro­gram­ming and ser­vices that haven’t been there for a long time,” Ricks said.

Em­pire State De­vel­op­ment de­vel­oped the plan in part­ner­ship with the City of Buf­falo and Univer­sity at Buf­falo Re­gional In­sti­tute.

Last year, the state ap­proved a $10 mil­lion hous­ing ini­tia­tive de­signed to in­crease home­own­er­ship, pre­vent fore­clo­sure and tar­get zom­bie prop­er­ties. Also, the non­profit en­tity for the Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal re­ceived $5 mil­lion to im­ple­ment a plan de­vel­oped by the Ur­ban Land In­sti­tute.

Since 2011, New York State has in­vested $237 mil­lion on the East Side, in­clud­ing $90 mil­lion for the largest pro­ject, the North­land Work­force Train­ing Cen­ter, as well as pro­grams such as Buf­falo Cen­ter for Arts & Tech­nol­ogy, Bur­gard High School Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Pro­gram and Bel­lamy Com­mons.

Ter­mini said that if done right, the $50 mil­lion can be lever­aged to $200 mil­lion worth of de­vel­op­ment on the East Side through the use of tax cred­its and other eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment fund­ing avail­able for ur­ban projects.

Wait­ing its turn

Some 42 per­cent of Buf­falo’s res­i­dents live on the East Side. Nearly four out of five are peo­ple of color. As state funds from the first Buf­falo Bil­lion be­gan pour­ing into the re­gion, many res­i­dents felt the state short­changed the East Side.

That view has been chang­ing in the past few years as more re­sources have gone there and pri­vately funded de­vel­op­ment has in­creased.

“I’m ex­tremely happy,” said Coun­cil Mem­ber Rasheed Wy­att, who rep­re­sents the Univer­sity District. “There are so many things we’re try­ing to ac­com­plish in the Kens­ing­ton-Bailey district as far as re­build­ing our busi­ness strip, and also mak­ing it more ap­peal­ing to at­tract additional in­vest­ment and new res­i­dences.”

Kens­ing­ton-Bailey is one of the in­vest­ment tar­get ar­eas in the plan. The Var­sity Theatre, con­sid­ered a linch­pin in that com­mer­cial district, is get­ting funds for in­te­rior light­ing and other ren­o­va­tions, fa­cade im­prove­ments and a ver­ti­cal sign.

The the­ater is one of 10 prop­er­ties or de­vel­op­ments now un­der­way re­ceiv­ing grants, in­clud­ing Nash Lofts, Torn Space The­ater, Buf­falo Brew­ing Com­pany’s re­lo­ca­tion to the for­mer Schreiber Brew­ery and the Bev­erly Gray Busi­ness Ex­change Cen­ter.

Funds are also be­ing spent to boost the Michi­gan Street African Amer­i­can Her­itage Cor­ri­dor, rein­vig­o­rate the Broad­way Mar­ket while cre­at­ing a vis­ual link to the Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal, and restor­ing the Buf­falo Mu­seum of Sci­ence’s north­ern en­trance, among other projects.

There are funds to as­sist Main Street shop own­ers with in­te­rior and ex­te­rior up­grades. A Build­ing Preser­va­tion Fund will help sta­bi­lize at-risk his­toric build­ings and aid in­ter­ested The names of the streets are laid into the brick­work of the build­ing on the south­east cor­ner of Broad­way and Michi­gan Av­enue, site of the Nash Lofts, a 40,000-square-foot mixed-use pro­ject un­der de­vel­op­ment.

par­ties seek­ing to re­store a his­toric prop­erty.

A com­mu­nity-based real es­tate de­vel­op­ment train­ing pro­gram has the goal of train­ing East Side res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers to pur­sue de­vel­op­ment or in­fill projects on their own prop­er­ties. The pro­gram in­cludes cap­i­tal grants to build­ing own­ers who com­plete the train­ing for the ren­o­va­tion of their prop­er­ties.

‘Con­nec­tive tis­sue’

“I think a lot of prior in­vest­ments were grow­ing our roots un­der the ground,” said John Mag­giore, a senior

pol­icy ad­viser to the gover­nor. “In­di­vid­u­ally, you could see stir­rings, but the sense they were all con­nected might have been miss­ing.

“What we an­nounced is the con­nec­tive tis­sue,” Mag­giore said. “It’s not go­ing to be the last in­vest­ment on the East Side, but what I think will re­sult from this is a greater sense of a nar­ra­tive, a vis­ual nar­ra­tive that the cream is turn­ing into the but­ter.”

Mag­giore ex­pects de­vel­op­ers to take ad­van­tage of his­toric and other tax cred­its.

“De­vel­op­ers in Buf­falo and Western New York have done it bet­ter than any­one else in the state,” he s aid.

Nick Si­na­tra and Dr. Fadi Daghe are both in­volved with de­vel­op­ments on the East Side, and both said the gover­nor’s ac­tion will only add to the mo­men­tum that’s be­gun.

“This is great news for the area. This is what we need,” said Daghe, whose com­pany bought the for­mer Sat­tler’s depart­ment store and the for­mer Eck­hardt Build­ing, both on Broad­way.

“I re­ally do think it was a huge an­nounce­ment,” Si­na­tra said. “The tim­ing is per­fect. When I talk to in­vestors and say what we want to do and say the gover­nor just put in $50 mil­lion, it’s ex­cit­ing and tells a pos­i­tive story.”

Si­na­tra also praised Mayor Byron W. Brown for be­ing “bullish” on Jef­fer­son Av­enue.

The de­vel­oper is build­ing a mixe­duse pro­ject near John­nie B. Wi­ley Am­a­teur Ath­letic Pav­il­ion, and also opened a North­west Bank branch in a new build­ing he con­structed with fel­low de­vel­oper David Paw­lik.

“This in­vest­ment will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove ev­ery neigh­bor­hood it touches,” Brown said of the $50 mil­lion ini­tia­tive.

Brown said he and his eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment staff worked closely with the gover­nor and his staff on the al­lo­ca­tion.

“Th­ese funds will sup­port the eco­nomic resur­gence of Buf­falo’s East Side for its res­i­dents,” the mayor said. “This strate­gic de­vel­op­ment will bring suc­cess sim­i­lar to what we’ve seen at the North­land Work­force Train­ing Cen­ter and the growth in that area of the city.”

A re­cent change in the fed­eral tax law has added a new in­cen­tive to de­velop on the East Side.

Dis­tressed ar­eas clas­si­fied as “op­por­tu­nity zones,” which most of the East Side qual­i­fies as, al­low in­vestors to in­vest cap­i­tal gains and re­ceive fa­vor­able tax treat­ment.

“This is go­ing to make pri­vate cap­i­tal more in­ter­ested in the East Side,” Si­na­tra said. “The gover­nor’s tim­ing couldn’t be any more per­fect as it re­lates to that.”

De­vel­oper Jake Sch­nei­der, who re­cently re­de­vel­oped the for­mer Shea’s Seneca Theatre in South Buf­falo, hasn’t worked on the East Side yet.

But he is eye­ing a pro­ject he hopes can move for­ward.

“We are look­ing at op­por­tu­ni­ties on the East Side and we are find­ing them, and that’s re­ally en­cour­ag­ing,” Sch­nei­der said. “There has been more progress in the last five years than in the pre­vi­ous 25.”

The vast amount of va­cant prop­erty on the East Side due to the de­mo­li­tion of derelict build­ings is some­thing Sch­nei­der thinks will pay div­i­dends for the East Side.

“De­vel­op­ment is driven by eco­nom­ics,” Sch­nei­der said. “You have to have projects that pen­cil out. It’s not sur­pris­ing to me that the more eco­nom­i­cally chal­lenged neigh­bor­hoods are the last ones to get de­vel­op­ers’ at­ten­tion. “I think the mere fact that de­vel­op­ers, my­self in­cluded, are now look­ing to that area for op­por­tu­ni­ties is a ma­jor paradigm shift.”

Pho­tos by Derek Gee/Buf­falo News

The for­mer Schreiber Brew­ery on Fill­more Av­enue is tar­geted for restora­tion by the Buf­falo Brew­ing Com­pany, which plans to re­lo­cate to the build­ing with a pro­duc­tion area, tast­ing room and a brew­ing his­tory mu­seum.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.