One of the biggest West Side housing projects in decades will be announced Wednesday.
People United for Sustainable Housing, better known as PUSH Buffalo, will announce plans for construction of 46 affordable, energy-efficient apartments. The project includes nine new structures and seven renovated buildings.
The seven buildings to be renovated have long been vacant.
“This project will go a long way toward eliminating vacant housing on the West Side of Buffalo,” said Aaron Bartley, executive director of the membership-based community organization. “This is something that was simply unfathomable when we began nine years ago.”
Bartley pointed to the growing immigrant and refugee community on the West Side that has added to the demand for good-quality affordable housing.
The $11 million project for the apartments – which will have one to four bedrooms – will be done by PUSH’s Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Co., along with Housing Visions, a development partner based in Syracuse.
The homes will be built using “green” building materials, with an emphasis on heavy insulation and high-efficiency furnaces.
About a dozen of the units will be located within a block or two of the Massachusetts Avenue house that was remodeled as part of the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television series in November 2009.
The work begins this week and is expected to be completed by around August 2015.
The project also includes the renovation of a long-vacant commercial building, formerly known as Club Utica, in the 500 block of West Utica Street. That renovation plan includes a vegetative roof.
Funding for the project comes from the state, the City of Buffalo and KeyBank. Among the state agencies participating are New York State Homes and Community Renewal and New York State Environmental Facilities Corp.
Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, worked for Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Co. from 2006 to 2011.
Ryan sought title to the abandoned buildings so PUSH could move forward with development, and he helped the not-for-profit group develop a community-based development strategy.
“In creating the corporation, we recognized that if you layered in state money, you can do it in a way that actually rebuilds neighborhoods and provides safe and affordable units. For me, this project is one of those holy cow moments – it actually worked,” Ryan said.
The housing project is the latest initiative from PUSH, which has become a force in improving West Side neighborhood through community organizing and strategic alliances.
PUSH’s 25-block Green Development Zone, where the housing will be built, is bordered by Richmond Avenue to the east, Normal Avenue to the west, Hampshire Street to the north and Vermont Street to the south.
A 2011 competition funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State Department and the American Planning Association, named the Green Development Zone one of three winners in an international competition on sustainable urban housing out of 289 submissions from 48 countries.
The housing project came out of PUSH’s annual Community Planning Congress. A committee then chose the sites.
PUSH has 300 members and employs 27 full- and part-time workers.
“Every house could be a work site, and a place where we reduce our carbon footprint in Buffalo,” Bartley said. “Much of our organizing and advocacy have been around that idea.”