East Side residents express fear of losing their homes to Pilgrim Village development

Oct 2, 2020

The tangled history of Buffalo's Pilgrim Village housing complex is continuing to be complex, with a series of court cases and two different developers working on different parts of the site.

 SAAEVI Development wants to take a low-rise building area at Best Street and Michigan Avenue and build 230 affordable and senior housing units. McGuire Development wants to convert the rest of the block to a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, allowing development of up to 11 buildings of gradually rising height. PUD approval would set the ground rules for developing the site.

SAAEVI Vice President of Development and Acquisitions Eric Ekman said their plan at Best and Michigan is large.

"This current proposal works with existing zoning and will also work with our proposed Planned Unit Development," Ekman said. "This proposal consists of two building, 230 units. One of the buildings on the left has three stories on Best Street that sets up the four stories and the corner building at Best and Michigan is five stories."

During a ZOOM session Thursday evening, several neighbors expressed some concerns about lack of knowledge and that some of the current residents were being pushed out to make way for SAAEVI's 230 units.

McGuire said residents will hear from that Florida-based company next week, with more details about relocation.

"They are actually next week going to start conversations in person with the residents of Pilgrim Village to start discussing details, exactly what you are looking for," said McGuire President and Chief Business Officer Danielle Shainbrown. "We are very sensitive to the uncertainty that you feel. Things have been presented to you in broad strokes and it's time to start reducing it down to realities."

It might be a year before the current residents near Best and Michigan are moved and there are specific regulations when people are moved for this kind of development. Common Council President Darius Pridgen said he doesn't want income segregation on the block.

"If it were not a PUD, it may be a different situation. But because they are proposing we want to develop the entire site, I don't want to see the affordable portion feel or look any different than the market rate housing and for these residents to be able to utilize the retail," Pridgen said.