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Officials break ceremonial ground on $51M Forge on Broadway housing

Mike Desmond
A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Wednesday.

Major development continues to move out from downtown Buffalo, with the Wednesday groundbreaking for a $51 million mixed-use project on the remediated land of the old Buffalo Forge site on Broadway.

Developers Rhonda Ricks and Stuart Alexander say the 158 units of housing and 9,500 square feet of commercial space is just the first phase of a development of one of the largest open spaces in the city, The Forge on Broadway.

As soon as the financial package fell into place a few weeks ago, actual construction started and the ceremonial groundbreaking took place across the street. It is being financed by private money and an array of state aid and tax credits.

Ricks, president of R+A+R Development, knows the site very well.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Construction is underway at the site of the olf Buffalo Forge plant.

"A lot you don't know this, but I grew up about three blocks from here," Ricks said, "and for about 30 years, this property has stayed abandoned. But look where we are today - changing people's lives - and that's what's important."

New York State Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) said she knows the 13-acre site from walking past as a child, heading to the Central Library.

"Walking up and down Broadway from Emslie to the library downtown, there were a ton of businesses on Broadway," Peoples-Stokes said. "It's a commercial strip and because of this development and the investment that's being made here, today those businesses will return. There will be a cleaners here. There will be a bakery here."

Mayor Byron Brown said it will be transformational.

"Vacant for more than 30 years, the site has been remediated," Brown said. "It was a brownfield - large, large brownfield. It's been remediated. It will have over 200 units of housing, 85 percent of them affordable, for people that need affordable, quality housing in our community."

Buffalo Forge was a manufacturing site for blacksmith forges, drilling machines, steam engines, heaters, blowers and air exhaust systems until closed in 1994. Existing buildings were demolished in 2006 and named a brownfield site by the state.

The site has already been cleaned up from its former industrial use and that is why developers say The Forge will open in 2020.

Ricks said the next phase of the project involves a series of townhouses that ill be for sale - something the neighborhood wanted. There will also be 90 units of senior housing.

Credit New York State Homes and Community Renewal
A rendering of the finished housing.

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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