About the Fund
As part of the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund (an initiative of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion), Empire State Development (ESD) established a $5 million East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund that will help to protect the fabric, density, character, and community on the East Side – making sure that building assets on the East Side that may have current challenges are able to be maintained for prospective future development as mixed-use, retail, and commercial uses, and can help to build up the strong commercial activity already present in areas on the East Side.
Empire State Development is partnering with Preservation Buffalo Niagara and City of Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspection Services to implement the Fund.
The Fund will provide a dedicated funding source that will support near-term stabilization of at-risk historic buildings on the East Side with preference given to those buildings along commercial corridors especially in the target investment areas of the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund. The Fund will support smaller, seal-up efforts such as roof patching, mothballing precautions, etc.—or rather, correcting obstacles that are preventing active use and business activity – to help prevent crisis-level failures in the future or, even worse, additional emergency demolitions of the existing urban fabric along commercial corridors. It will ensure that buildings with code violations or structural deficiencies, but where there is not a currently viable project, are not torn down as a short sighted “solution”; rather, such buildings will be kept viable through the Fund, so that when there are market opportunities, the resources themselves will be intact and available for re-use.
- Applicants must demonstrate ownership of all buildings/real estate considered part of the proposed project or demonstrate expressed authorization of the property owner. Buildings must be privately owned.
- The building must be a commercial or mixed-use property located on Buffalo’s East Side. For the purposes of the ESCEDF, the East Side is defined as 17 square miles, bounded by the University at Buffalo (UB) to the north; Main Street and Michigan Avenue (excluding the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Central Business District) to the west; I-190 and the Buffalo River to the south; and the City line to the east. While any historic commercial or mixed-use building located on the East Side is eligible to apply, preference will be given to those buildings along commercial corridors especially in the target investment areas of the ESCEDF (See Attachment A: East Side Eligible Geography Map).
- The building must be historic. For purposes of this Fund, “historic” shall mean any building that has existed on the site since prior to urban renewal, or for at least 50 years; or that contributes to the unique neighborhood character of the place in which it is located and contributes to the vision for revitalized business districts through providing an opportunity for business development at the site and wealth creation in the neighborhood. Such buildings may or may not be listed on or determined to be eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places (S/NRHP).
- Owners must maintain properties after stabilization. Property owners receiving assistance to stabilize their buildings under the Fund must file/record a “Property Maintenance Declaration” with the Erie County Clerk, stating that the subject property received assistance under the Fund, and that they will maintain the property in a manner consistent with the Fund objectives for a minimum of five years from date of completion of the stabilization project. In the event of non-compliance, the amount of grant funds will be subject to repayment in accordance with a simple annual declining balance, based on the five-year enforcement period.
Fund Activities and Use of Funding
Through the program, property owners will be eligible for up to $50,000 per building, unless otherwise approved by ESD, for stabilization-related activities. ESD will not require that property owners contribute matching funds in order to receive grant funding; however, funds will only be distributed upon completion of stabilization work conducted under this grant.
Funds must be used for stabilization of commercial or mixed-use buildings. For purposes of this program, “stabilization” refers to undertaking preventative repairs that correct structural deficiencies or code violations, which if not corrected, could lead to loss of the building through collapse or demolition.
Fund must be used for capital purposes, including work pertaining to code violations. Costs for stabilization projects completed on a property prior to the property being accepted into this program will not be eligible for reimbursement.
Funds may not be used for: stabilization of residential properties; buildings currently being used for religious purposes; improvements to structures owned by religious or private membership-based organizations (e.g., not including former buildings of this type owned by non-sectarian entities); and activities that have occurred prior to the start of the grant period cannot be funded through this program.
Properties listed for sale or with the intent to sell can be eligible for the program, however, grant funds will be subject to pro rata recapture if property is sold within five years of disbursement of funds unless the transaction is approved by ESD.
Owners with housing court violations are eligible to apply for program. However, all back taxes must be paid prior to receiving funds, and funds cannot be used to pay taxes.
Grants will be provided for 6 months and no longer than 12 months. Extensions on awards will be considered on a case-by-case basis provided substantial progress has been made on the project in the initial 12-month period.
Submitted project applications will be reviewed and prioritized based on:
- Property location
- National Register eligibility
- Likelihood of future redevelopment
- Urgency of stabilization measures
- Impact on the neighborhood
- Community support
- Applicant’s residency
- Applicant’s development experience
- Preservation Easement: Building owners who are willing to enter into a 10-year preservation easement on the property with Preservation Buffalo Niagara will be given preference.
How to Apply
Full Program Guidelines and Map
Frequently Asked Questions
The first round of the East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund has concluded and Preservation Buffalo Niagara is currently not accepting applications. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter for updates about when applications are open again.
*The grant award is from the East Side Collaborative Fund which is administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. The pooled fund was created through a unique partnership of private and philanthropic organizations to complement capital funding that is being awarded by Empire State Development (ESD) as part of its $65 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund (ESCEDF), which is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion II initiative.
About East Side Avenues
East Side Avenues is a capacity building initiative developed to fund, plan and coordinate revitalization strategies and initiatives aimed at improving economic conditions in four main commercial corridors on Buffalo’s East Side. It is backed by a unique partnership of private and philanthropic organizations that created the pooled, $8 million East Side Collaborative Fund administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. The grants and supports are being provided to complement capital funding that is being awarded by Empire State Development (ESD) as part of its $65 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund (ESCEDF), which is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion II initiative.
East Side Avenues stemmed from UB Regional Institute’s (UBRI) partnership with ESD and The City of Buffalo to reach out to community members, to listen, analyze past investments and create a comprehensive plan focused on what key stakeholders said they’d like to see happen and what projects they believe are important for promoting economic activity.
East Side Avenues is being led by a Project Implementation Team (PIT) from UBRI that will work to build organizational capacity by ensuring appropriate supports such as infrastructure, staff and funding are in place; assisting with strategic planning, program design and problem solving; reporting on progress and ensuring responsible use of resources. UBRI is the research enterprise of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. Learn more about East Side Avenues at www.eastsideavenues.org/.
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov