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People Inc., City of Buffalo break ground on Jefferson Avenue apartments

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Ground was broken Monday morning on what will be two apartment buildings in Buffalo's Jefferson Avenue Corridor. Some of the apartment units will be home to people living independently with developmental disabilities.

The buildings will be erected at 1140 and 1166 Jefferson Avenue, between Dodge Street and Northampton. In all, 84 mixed-income apartments will be available, 16 of which will be set aside for those living with disabilities.

People Inc. will operate the buildings, which will contain one- and two-bedroom units. Plans also include a community room with a small kitchen, laundry facilities, off-street parking and green space. Project planners say it will provide residents with quick access to bus stops, as well as a NFTA Metro Rail station not far away, and nearby shops and services.

Rhonda Frederick, president and chief executive officer of People Inc., said the site was selected in great part due to the number of People Inc. clients and employees who live in the vicinity.

"I saw the huge numbers of people we have here that are always looking for affordable housing, bettering themselves," Frederick said. "The buildings will have some set-aside units for people with developmental disabilities in this great walkable community It'll be a great place for them and their families nearby to help support them."

The price tag for the project is $24 million dollars. Funding is provided by the City of Buffalo, Empire State Development, New York State Housing Finance Agency, New York State Housing and Community Renewal and the New York State Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. Federal and state tax credits also factor in the financing.

In addition to the City of Buffalo, partners that have assisted People Inc. with the lengthy planning process include Sinatra and Company Real Estate, Bellamy Enterprises LLC, Creative Structures Services and Long Associates Architects. 

"We came up with this idea and this plan. We got with the architects and we put it on paper and here we are, two years later, with what we think is a fantastic development that fits the neighborhood, drawn up by the neighborhood and for the neighborhood," said Nick Sinatra of Sinatra and Company.

In addition to a groundbreaking ceremony, there was also a ceremonial demolition as heavy equipment punched a hold in a vacant house that will soon be cleared to make way for the project. Frederick told WBFO that brownfield cleanup comes first and may take about two months. She anticipates construction of the apartments may begin next March.

Angelo Threats, who lives in the neighborhood, was among those watching the ceremony and welcoming news of future development. He's among local residents who feel the East Side's turn for economic redevelopment is overdue.

"With the old houses that are being torn down, with the refurbishing of old houses and the new houses that are being built, it's been a slow process but I think this is a strong spark in the commercial and residential parts to strengthen the community," he said. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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