The former School 77 on Buffalo's West Side has officially reopened. After sitting vacant for nearly a decade, the 90-year-old building has undergone extensive renovations and now includes 30 affordable apartments for seniors.
PUSH Buffalo Deputy Director Rahwa Ghirmatzion says it's a critical project for the community.
"All over the country we're facing gentrification and a lot of displacement and homelessness. I think what this project shows is that you can actually do development that keeps people in place," Ghirmatzion said.
The project included installing a shared solar array on the building's roof. Ghirmatzion says it will provide low-cost power for the building's tenants and community members.
"The national average of energy burdens is about six percent. In Western New York most working class and communities of color pay an average of 25 to 40 percent of their income on energy. And so there's a huge burden here. Shared solar is a really great way to lift that burden and create community wealth," Ghirmatzion said.
The first floor of the building includes office space for community nonprofits, a gymnasium, and performance space for Ujima Theatre Company.
The nearly $15 million dollar renovation was supported by the Better Buffalo Fund, part of Gov. Cuomo's Buffalo Billion initiative.