Yet another housing adaptive reuse project has had a ribbon-cutting, appropriately in a former mattress factory in Hamlin Park.
The first section of the complex opened in 1911 as a mattress factory and operated successfully up until World War II in a progressively-expanded factory. As with so many other local factory structures, the buildings eventually fell out of use and into tax foreclosure.
Now, aided by a mix of private investment, the Buffalo Billion, along with federal and state tax credits, the $6.5 million project is open. The first dozen units are already leased and the rest are expected to be full by late spring.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the Buffalo Billion includes smaller projects like this as well as SolarCity.
"It was not all about the big projects only, that we would not overlook neighborhoods like Hamlin Park and the East Side and the West Side and the South Buffalo areas, that we would make sure that recovery, Buffalo's transformation, would also be seen on the street corners and the city blocks and that people's lives could be transformed by having simply a better quality of life," Hochul said.
The complex, with its 34 units of market-rate housing and office space, is located in the neighborhood of the Hamlin Park Community and Taxpayers Association.
President Stephanie Barber-Geter said developers Jason Yots and Karl Frizlen had worked with the community from the beginning on what was planned and what was being built. She said that is why the project is welcomed into the community.
"You see a building over there, we'd like to do something with it. They came to us first," Barber-Geter said. "I said, 'Well, these are the steps you got to take. You got to go to the councilman and you got to go to the city' and they did that and they kept coming back as the idea began to bloom. It made a lot of difference to us that you thought enough to understand that the role of community was important. I want to thank you for that."
Assemblymember Crystal People-Stokes said more will come, especially because Congress preserved tax credit financing, although restricting it.
"Huge mistake that would have been if that had been totally taken out," Peoples-Stokes said. "We have just started this resurgence project. This is not the end of it. We just started this in Buffalo. We have a ways to go and I feel completely confident that with the partners that we have, not just at the state level of government, but the federal level of government and certainly investors."