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$30 million plan targets Buffalo neighborhood revitalization
Better Buffalo Fund blends housing, business and transit
David Robinson | The Buffalo News


By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.

The Better Buffalo Fund, a $30 million program aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods within the city and encouraging housing, retail and business projects near public transportation, is the latest piece of the state’s Buffalo Billion economic-development initiative.


The fund, in the works for more than a year, is focused entirely on areas within the City of Buffalo and is targeting community-development initiatives that range in size from as little as $50,000 to as much as $2 million.


The idea is to encourage development along public transportation corridors that can spur retail and neighborhood-oriented businesses, along with the development of public spaces and walkways, state officials said Thursday.


The initiative is intended to strengthen major Buffalo residential neighborhoods along corridors served by public transportation so that growth in one area could spill over to other nearby neighborhoods.


“This money connects the employment opportunities created by the Buffalo Billion to neighborhood centers throughout Buffalo,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown.


The fund could create neighborhoods that are walkable and better connected to the jobs being created in the region, said Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo.


“We have seen the cost of unchecked sprawl,” she said. “It’s more difficult and expensive to serve transportation and infrastructure needs as people spread out.”


The state said applications for grants and loans offered through the Better Buffalo Fund now are available through the Empire State Development Corp. website and will be accepted through Dec. 1.


The biggest part of the fund is for transit-oriented development projects that are aimed at encouraging growth along existing transportation corridors and encourage the use of alternative transportation and walkability, state officials said.


The fund, administered by Empire State Development, will offer up to $2 million in gap financing for those projects, which would encourage dense development, such as housing, employment and retail, with a quarter-mile walking distance of Metro Bus and Metro Rail stops on Bailey Avenue and Grant, Main, Niagara and Utica streets.


The second part of the fund, called the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative, is targeted toward the revitalization of historic business districts and mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts. The initiative will provide grants of $50,000 to $500,000 to nonprofit and neighborhood business associations for building renovations and public space enhancements in targeted areas.


The Buffalo Main Streets Initiative will focus on these city commercial corridors: Allentown, Bailey, Broadway/Fillmore, Chippewa Street, East Delavan Avenue, Elmwood Village, Fillmore/Martin Luther King, Grant/Amherst, Grant/Ferry, Hertel, Jefferson Avenue, Kaisertown, Lovejoy, Lower Niagara/Lakeview, Main Street, Seneca-Cazenovia, South Park, Tonawanda/Ontario and upper Niagara Street.


That portion of the fund is expected to support projects that will improve the infrastructure in those targeted areas and support private development.


“Buffalo’s diverse neighborhoods and vibrant attractions are part of what makes it one of the most exciting cities around,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. “With this initiative, we’re going to make it easier than ever to see all that the Queen City has to offer.”