June 27, 2019

HCR and ESD Announce Mixed-Use Development in Buffalo

HCR and Empire State Development Announce Grand Opening of Mixed-Use Development in Buffalo

June 27, 2019 – New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas and Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky today announced the completion of renovations on a mixed-use development on upper Niagara Street in Buffalo. The renovated historic property at 1225 Niagara Street includes 2,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space and three residential apartments on the upper floors. The project was supported by the Better Buffalo Fund, Buffalo Main Streets Initiative—part of the Governor’s Buffalo Billion initiative to revitalize neighborhoods and improve transportation—and developed by building owner Bill Breeser, in partnership with Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc.

“The opening of this new development shows the importance of the Better Buffalo Fund, which is investing in Buffalo's growth and transforming the city,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today’s announcement. “Recognizing the importance of historic preservation and adaptive reuse, this project renovates a 150-year-old vacant building into a mixed-use space with businesses and residential units. We’re adding diversity and vibrancy to Niagara Street, enhancing quality of life for residents in the region. The project is part of our comprehensive strategy to strengthen neighborhoods and build a better future for all.”

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Through the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative, Governor Cuomo is revitalizing Buffalo’s commercial corridors, supporting local business owners and creating walkable, vibrant neighborhoods. With the historic preservation of 1225 Niagara Street, we are reactivating upper Niagara Street. This development is proof that investment in small buildings can have a huge impact.”

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “1225 Niagara Street is a great example of how the Better Buffalo Fund is fueling strategic and successful placemaking, reviving city neighborhoods and commercial districts.”

The Governor has committed $40 million to the Better Buffalo Fund, via $30 million in Buffalo Billion I and $10 million in Buffalo Billion II.  This project received $282,500 from the Better Buffalo Fund.  The fund aims to create vibrant, mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods.  It is focused on supporting projects that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts.  It offers grants and revolving loan funds through two initiatives - Transit Oriented Development and the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative, which is modeled on HCR’s New York Main Street program. 

The 150-year-old formerly vacant dilapidated building at the corner of Breckenridge and Niagara streets underwent extensive renovations of the interior and exterior of the property, including a 1,600 square-foot commercial unit on the first floor and three upper story residential units totaling 2,800 square feet.  Renovations to the Italianate-style, three-story brick building were consistent with historic standards, local development plans and neighborhood initiatives.

The new commercial space is now occupied by L2K Design, a certified WBEN and M/WBE design firm.  Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc. administered the funds and the building is owned by Bill Breeser.

Through three rounds of the program, the Better Buffalo Fund has awarded more than $30 million to 47 projects.  These projects are renovating more than 681 residential units and more than 345,000 square feet of store front and commercial space, while also leveraging over $308 million in private investment in the City of Buffalo.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for continuing to support the positive economic momentum we are experiencing in the City of Buffalo. Through the Better Buffalo Fund, more than $30 million has been awarded to 47 projects. As part of the Buffalo Billion initiative, the Better Buffalo Fund continues to be a game-changer for our City and is a critical tool in revitalizing our commercial corridors and neighborhoods.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “Governor Cuomo's focus on Western New York continues to deliver critical resources for the development of Buffalo. From transportation infrastructure to neighborhood development, the Better Buffalo Fund is investing in Buffalo's future.  We've seen our neighborhoods grow as a result of the Better Buffalo Fund, and I'm thrilled to see the impact the program has had on Buffalo's West Side.  This program ensures that everyone is included as Buffalo continues its amazing revitalization, and we thank the Governor for his dedication to our city." 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Smart investments, such as the project at 1225 Niagara Street, improve neighborhoods by reusing existing infrastructure and strengthening communities. This project transformed an unused but historic building into a multi-use contemporary space that anchors the neighborhood and revitalizes the Niagara Street corridor. It is a win-win for the City and proof of what smart, targeted investments make possible.”

Bill Breeser, owner of 1225 Niagara Street, said, “This award from the Better Buffalo Fund facilitated the redevelopment of not only this historic building, but the entire neighborhood. Thank you to our partners on this project.”