Photo: 950 Broadway Rendering
September 27, 2023

Governor Hochul Announces Start of Construction on 950 Broadway Development in East Buffalo

Governor Hochul Announces Start of Construction on 950 Broadway Development in East Buffalo
Project Features 28 Affordable Housing Units and Free Head Start Child Education Program
One Of 11 Projects For Buffalo's $10 Million Broadway-Fillmore Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award, See Renderings Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the start of construction for 950 Broadway LLC in East Buffalo. The $13.5 million project, by Cedarland Development LLC, will renovate and convert a 50,000 square foot, vacant and underutilized building in East Buffalo into a mixed-use development, featuring 28 affordable housing units, a free Head Start child education program and a proposed indoor urban farm. The building has been unused for 18 years, with portions of the building being vacant for decades prior. Once complete, the renovated 950 Broadway will bring new life to the former retail store-turned-office building near one of the most visible intersections in East Buffalo. Governor Hochul previously announced 950 Broadway LLC was chosen with 10 other transformational projects in Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood as part of a $10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award.

“The groundbreaking for 950 Broadway today is a new beginning for this long vacant, prominent structure in East Buffalo,” Governor Hochul said. “Once a blight on the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, the historic building will now be a community anchor and catalyst for economic development. Homes will be made here, and we look forward to welcoming new neighbors to the Buffalo community.”

Located at the corner of Broadway and Fillmore, the former Eckhardt’s and Kobacker’s department store will contain 28 affordable apartments and a Head Start children’s education program run by the Community Action Organization. An indoor urban farm has been proposed for the building’s basement. Apartments in the building will include ten studio apartments,12 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units.

Buffalo’s Broadway-Fillmore was a DRI winner in Round 5. Located in East Buffalo and one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood is the focus of Buffalo’s plan for a downtown investment. The Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood, with a relatively dense stock of largely historic commercial buildings, set forth a vision of creating special urban places, key park spaces, retail-oriented streets, improved neighborhood connections, bike and pedestrian connections, streetscape improvements, and public realm improvements. Building on this momentum, Buffalo aims to encourage more redevelopment of vacant structures, provide better connections between anchors and amenities through greenspace, increase affordable housing opportunities, and enhance the streetscape.

To assist Cedarland, New York State is providing a loan valued at $900,000 and grant valued at $1.1 million from Empire State Development’s Better Buffalo Fund to support the commercial renovations and building’s stabilization. Additionally, the project was awarded a $427,150 grant for the buildout of the daycare facilities through the Department of State’s Round 5 Downtown Revitalization Initiative for the Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood. New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) is providing $2.1 million in construction and permanent financing toward the affordable housing portion of the project through its Small Building Participation Loan Program. The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) is providing a $7.8 million construction loan, as well as a $3.2 million SONYMA-insured permanent loan financed through its partnership with the New York State Common Retirement Fund. In addition to the developer’s contributions, over $2.9 million in Historic Tax Credit Equity and additional incentives from National Grid round out the project’s sources. The State of New York Mortgage Agency’s Insurance Fund is providing mortgage insurance on CPC’s permanent financing.

The Art Moderne building — with its rounded facade of granite, terra cotta and stainless steel — was designed by architects Bley and Lyman and built in 1940 as a department store. From 1940 until 1957, the building operated as a department store. Later, it served as office space for the State Department of Labor.

Cedarland Development Group is a local real estate development company founded by Dr. Fadi Dagher and his son Kevin Dagher. Dr. Dagher’s love for the community led to initial real estate investments, which soon evolved into a mission to positively influence Buffalo’s ongoing renaissance. Throughout this project, Cedarland Development feels fortunate to collaborate with many partners who share their vision. Project financing was completed by the Community Preservation Corporation and construction is managed by Buffalo Construction Consultants.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The eagerly-awaited adaptive reuse of 950 Broadway will bring economic development and neighborhood revitalization to a prominent corner in East Buffalo. It compliments Governor Hochul’s long-standing commitments and investments in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, including the East Side Commercial Districts program, Broadway Market, Central Terminal and other projects.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “This $13 million investment in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood promises new life and vitality in the form of 28 affordable homes, numerous job opportunities, and accessible, quality childcare. HCR is proud to be a partner in this effort and gratified to continue our work here in East Buffalo to reinvigorate the neighborhood and to bring this highly visible and architecturally significant building back to life.”

New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “This project will transform a vacant community eyesore into a vibrant, mixed-use community asset, which will provide much-needed affordable housing, childcare and address food access and insecurity. This innovative project is just the beginning of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s transformative impact on the Broadway-Filmore district and a glowing testament to Governor Hochul’s broader commitment to revitalizing and re-energizing East Buffalo.”

Cedarland Development Group Founder Dr. Fadi Dagher said, “950 Broadway represents not just a building but a commitment to revitalizing our community. We are dedicated to addressing the community’s needs by delivering essential neighborhood services and affordable housing projects in collaboration with our community partners and elected officials.”

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “This is a prime example of a project that is repurposing a piece of our city's history, and in doing so, creating real opportunities for economic and community-based growth. Dr. Fadi Dagher continues to make strategic, meaningful investments in Western New York, and New York State remains committed to supporting thoughtful projects that create centralized, collaborative spaces within our city.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “The last time I remember the Eckhardt Building being active was almost two decades ago during its time as the New York State Department of Labor Office. A mixed-use building for indoor agriculture, new residential living and a free Head Start Day Care Center is the epitome of a ‘live, work and play’ space that will help improve neighborhood density and increase activity. I'm ecstatic to see this community anchor being reactivated again, and would like to congratulate Cedarland Development and the CAO of WNY for understanding the needs of neighborhood residents and ultimately serving to improve their quality of life.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for her continued dedication to development in the city of Buffalo. I commend Cedarland Development LLC for their hard work to get this project off the ground. In 2022, the city secured about $10 million through a competitive application process for the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Through this secured state funding, we were able to assist with creating the daycare portion of the 950 Broadway project. I am proud of the hard work our Office of Strategic Planning has done to complete the DRI application and to help the local planning committee with project planning. In addition to the 950 Broadway project, the city secured funding for other projects in the Broadway Fillmore area such as revitalizing Sears Paderewski Park, Affordable Housing at Playter Gardens at the Market, and improvements to the Matt Urban Center.”

Fillmore District Council Member Mitch Nowakowski said, “This transformative project, led by Cedarland Development LLC, will breathe new life into a long-vacant building and bring affordable housing, educational opportunities, and job prospects to our neighborhood. It’s a testament to the positive impact we can achieve through strategic investments, and I look forward to seeing this development flourish in the heart of East Buffalo.”