$400M Buffalo Project Gets Key Approval

This will be one of the city's largest-ever affordable housing redevelopments.

A rendering of the completed project. Image courtesy of Habitat

Multifamily developer and property manager Habitat has received planned unit development approval from the Buffalo Common Council, its most recent step toward a $400 million redevelopment of Buffalo, N.Y.’s Marine Drive Apartments.

The equitable transit-oriented project is a joint venture of real estate firm Duvernay + Brooks and the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. Destined to be among the largest affordable redevelopments in Buffalo’s history, the apartment community will feature some 700 apartments.

Located at 205 Marine Drive, the current property was constructed in 1952 and offers 616 units across seven 12-story structures. The buildings, in disrepair and requiring replacement, are situated near the Erie Canal Harbor Metro Rail station along the city’s waterfront.

Fiscal sense

“Among the biggest challenges was shifting from what we originally thought was going to be a rehab of the existing buildings to a full ground-up redevelopment of Marine Drive,” Jeff Head, vice president of development, Habitat Affordable Group, told Multi-Housing News. “After an exhaustive feasibility study, it made the most sense fiscally to construct an entirely new modern complex, but that presented another challenge: How do we keep residents in their homes for as long as possible, [and] not force them to move multiple times or ultimately be displaced?”

“When we look at the current site, it’s really the existing surface parking lot that is key to the redevelopment,” Head added. “By being able to build out the 300,000-square-foot phase one complex on the existing parking lot site, it allows for residents to stay in their current homes until the new buildings are fully constructed. In turn, they only move once, directly into those new residences. With the older structures being torn down in phases, it allows for this staggered process of resident move-ins.”

No displacement

Encompassing 300,000 square feet, Phase I of the redevelopment will feature the construction of new low-, mid- and high-rise apartment buildings next to the current property on its surface parking lot. A parking garage and space for commercial enterprises will also be constructed.

Now that the PUD has been approved, the next step for the Marine Drive redevelopment team will be winning design approval from the city of Buffalo and filing financing applications with the state of New York. Work is slated to commence on the revamp in late 2024, with completion expected by the end of the decade.

Four months ago, Habitat and P3 Markets received construction financing for Phase II of their $100 million 43 Green project in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

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