New East Side mixed-use development planned

Mar 14, 2017

As development spreads across Buffalo, improvements and developments are showing up in areas long off the construction radar. One project planning 84 apartments with retail space may go in along Jefferson Avenue, north from what is now the Johnnie B. Wiley complex.

It is a $20 million project being developed by a complicated group of sponsors, including People Inc., Sinatra, CSS Construction and Bellamy Enterprises. One of the key differences is that architects have chosen to design two different-looking buildings.

One will be located between Dodge and Southampton. The other will be located between Southampton and Northampton. Both will back onto a slowly rehabbing community and an unmarked community center offering help to the neighborhood, especially computers for students of all ages.

Architect Matthew Long says the buildings are even different sizes.

"Other site is 48 units. This site is 36 units, due to the smaller width of the lot. Square footage goes up. Commercial? 14,500 square feet with highly flex units. The units range from 600 square feet for a small shop to 2,000 square feet at the largest flex unit," he said.

People Inc. will handle the apartments and Sinatra will handle the retail space along Jefferson.

Community activist Elizabeth Triggs says the two buildings are good for the neighborhood.

"We'll have new people, new things going on and new ideas because we've been there 30 years and we're dying out.," she said. "The younger people are coming in with great ideas. We've just gotta keep them in order so they don't go too fare with those ideas. I think we can do it."

The new housing is close to the Makowski School, City Honors and the Wiley complex. Neighbor Terrance Heard likes the idea of new buildings as well.

"Push for the children that grew up all these years who look up to all these fields that never been cut," he said. "And, pyschologically, they never had the mindset they can go to college and do things because they live in an area that's been deteriorated, that's been neglected. So, psychogically, we're looking for this to be a boost for them and to do more projects with the kids and the people in the neighborhood about job employment, training."

The developers presented the plan to the city Planning Board Monday and it goes before the Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday at 2 p.m.