A former schoolhouse nestled within Minnesota, Lisbon and Cordova Avenues in Buffalo's University Heights district is undergoing a transformation and will soon be reopened as an apartment complex. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday at what will soon become the Lofts at University Heights.
The former Buffalo Public School 63, or Campus North, will be converted into 44 mixed-income apartments, some with single bedrooms and others with two bedrooms. Leading the $16 million project are CB Emmanuel Realty and Barnes Real Estate Group.
Ben Upshaw, the principal of CB-Emmanuel Realty, explained that remediation work was just beginning and that the first stages of converting the building were anticipated to begin in about a week.
"The building will represent transit-oriented workforce housing that will be geared for young adults that want to start their career in the medical corridor," he said.
While young professionals will be encouraged to sign up for the new apartments, Buffalo mayor Byron Brown shared the sentiment that the residents already living in the neighborhood will always be a part of that immediate community.
"We want to make sure that we are not pushing people out of neighborhoods and that there are affordable, quality housing options for people throughout our city," Brown said.
Common Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt congratulated the project partners, stating that by including widespread community input, they're doing the project properly.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was among the state leaders present for the ceremony. She, too, praised the longtime residents of the neighborhood and told them that, in spite of what some have said about the Buffalo Billion, neighborhoods like theirs are also within the governor's ambitious plans for transforming Buffalo.
"We want to take down the success to the neighborhoods and bring it right to the streets," she said. "When I was able to announce the $30 million Better Buffalo Fund a few months ago, we talked about projects that literally transformed the streets we walk on, streets that in the past have been covered with broken glass. Scary circumstances for people to walk on them. Now they're going to be brought back with a new beauty and a chance for people to live in a safe, secure neighborhood."
Completion of the Lofts at University Heights is expected in 2017.