ECIDA approves incentives for $95 million Pilgrim Village redevelopment

Dec 16, 2015

An ambitious redevelopment plan that converts a subsidized housing campus adjacent to Buffalo's medical corridor into a mix of residential and commercial space has gained $1.9 million in incentives from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. 

ECIDA members praised the developers who will rebuild Pilgrim Village, located on Ellicott Street between Best and East North Streets. Part of the project involves the remodeling of 65 existing homes. The project also calls for construction of a new six-story tower that will house approximately 150 apartments and ground-level commercial space.

Erie County Industrial Development Agency board members voted on Wednesday to approve $1.9 million in incentives for a nearly $95 million private development that will reshape Buffalo's Pilgrim Village neighborhood.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The incentives approved by ECIDA board members will come in the form of sales tax breaks on the purchase of building materials for the forthcoming project, which will cost an estimated $95 million. It's a private investment. Mark Trammell, Pilgrim Village general partner, says it's the largest recent private investment in downtown Buffalo behind the Pegulas and Jacobs' projects.

But it's a major undertaking that will not drive longtime lower-income residents out of the neighborhood, even with new apartments designed to welcome higher-earning professionals.

"The people that are currently located there are going to receive totally new apartment units by refinishing the insides with new kitchens and everything," said Jeffrey Lehrbach, chief financial officer of McGuire Development. "That allows people that have been longtime residents of the neighborhood to experience the same elevation in their lifestyle as people that will move into the new tower."

"The project reflects the community. It reflects the marketplace and is a natural fit," added Trammell. "We are just so fortunate to be at that location and have all those energies come into play."

Among the perks pointed out by ECIDA board members was convenient access to two nearby NFTA metro stations. It was one of many reasons why board members took turns praising the project and crediting Trammell and McGuire Development for respecting the longtime residents and keeping them in the plan.

"I think the developers got this," said ECIDA board member and Buffalo Common Council president Darius Pridgen. "I've been very clear about anti-gentrification efforts. They got that. They did not try to knock down the entire development and move out people who have been in these neighborhoods for years, but actually worked with the people."

Trammell says preliminary work has already been completed but the project in earnest is expected to begin in late January or early February.