ABOUT THE FUND: As part of the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund, 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.
FUND GOALS: 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.
- 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 (Click here to see the East Side eligible geography map).
- 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 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 ACTIVITY: Through the Program, property owners and businesses in the target geographies are eligible to receive grants from PBN of up to $150,000 for stabilization–related activities for 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. Property owners will also be required to provide a minimum 10% contribution to the total construction cost of their project, provided directly to the PBN. Property owner contribution commitments are to be demonstrated upon applying to the Program, delivered to PBN prior to construction commencing and must be documented by PBN at construction completion/request for final payment by ESD.
Example of prospective grant awards and match amounts:
All applicable project design and development, construction monitoring, and construction close out costs will be covered at no cost to participating property owners through the PBN-contracted Technical Consultant. Should a property owner wish to use their own design/technical professionals, these costs will not be covered by the program grants but can be counted towards the owners’ required contribution. Projects with scopes with an identified need in excess of the $150,000 maximum grant amount will require that the Owner pay for the outstanding balance, beyond the required 10% owner’s contribution, unless otherwise approved by ESD. PBN will be responsible for paying all construction costs, inclusive of the property owner’s 10% contribution, directly to the contractors on behalf of the property owner.
REVIEW CRITERIA: 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: Applications for the latest round of funding closed on Friday, December 2, 2022. The next round of funding is anticipated to open in early 2023.
To learn more about the East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund, please review the full program guidelines here.
Click here to access the Selection Criteria used to review and score applications.
If you have questions concerning the upcoming round of funding, or would like more information about the East Side Commercial Building Stabilization Fund, please contact Constance D. Strother at ESCBSF@pbnsaves.org or 716-852-3300.
*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).
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).
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/.