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Development projects move forward as City Hall talks affordable housing

Mike Desmond

While development plans and projects continue, City Hall is still talking about setting quotas for how many units in Buffalo projects involving public money should be affordable.

Just last Thursday, the Erie County Legislature approved tax breaks for three different affordable housing complexes: two buildings on Jefferson Avenue, housing on Niagara Street replacing the larger Shoreline complex and apartments on Broadway on the old Buffalo Forge site.

Jefferson is 89 units. Niagara Square Apartments is 166 units and The Forge on Broadway is 158 mixed-income units. Developer Rhonda Ricks said construction will likely start next month on The Forge.

"It's a huge project. It's going to bring lots of jobs to the community, giving lot of construction jobs," Ricks said. "We're going to have jobs in maintenance for the building. There's going to be property management opportunities available. We're going to have commercial space there, 10,000 square feet."

Ricks said the $51 million complex near Broadway and Mortimer should take around 18 months to build, putting tenants near downtown and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus for jobs.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"We're trying to help fill that gap and not only through affordable housing, but quality affordable housing -  where they have dishwashers, where they have stainless steel appliances, where the apartments are technologically ready for the tenants that come in," Ricks said.

Once those affordable units are done, she said the project will move into the next phase, which is townhouses. Ricks said it will be good for neighbors.

"What's interesting about that neighborhood, right there, we have a whole lot of houses that are 30 years old or less," Ricks said. "And then we have Sycamore Village that is there - and the housing prices from what I understand are coming in like now at around 220 ($220,000), so all we're going to do is help to increase those property values around us."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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