High School Turned Affordable Housing Coming to Niagara Falls

Originally constructed in 1923, the school has sat vacant since 1986.

Niagara-City-LoftsNiagara Falls, N.Y.CB Emmanuel is developing Niagara City Lofts, an adaptive reuse project in Niagara Falls, N.Y., which will convert an abandoned public high school into 61 units of workforce housing, affordable housing, market rate apartments and a new commercial community space.

“This project is critical to the city of Niagara Falls. It’s in the central business district and it was critical to removing blight and uncertainty and stabilizing a historic neighborhood,” Benathan Upshaw, CB Emmanuel’s principal, told MHN. “Within this neighborhood you have a number of institutional players who wanted something positive to happen with the school.”

KeyBank is providing $12 million in capital for the development of the property.

Originally constructed in 1923, the school has sat vacant since 1986 and has been submitted to the National Register of Historic Places for designation as a historic building.

“By repurposing the existing building in the footprint of the city that’s there, the building, property and development will be part of the city’s past and the city’s future,” Joe Eicheldinger, KeyBank’s relationship manager, who closed the deal, told MHN. “This project is smart for us as it does bring economic diversity to a rather low-income area in the city and help to bring diversification through many different income bands.”

The leasing plan for Niagara City Lofts calls for setting aside 11 units for rent by special needs households, including veterans. Forty-three of the units will be reserved for individuals who earn 50 and 60 percent of Area Median Income; eight of the units will be designated for rental assistance vouchers; and 10 of the units will be offered at market rate.

Units will offer a mix of one and two bedrooms, and some will be two-level townhouses.

Niagara City Lofts will also offer residents supportive services, administered by Independent Living of Niagara County, which advocates for and refers special need residents to services that maximize independent living.

“The dire need for affordable housing in this area has been documented through the market study commissioned for the project,” Eicheldinger said. “Our team is committed to supporting affordable housing options that meet a range of community needs.”

There will also be 19,000-square-feet of commercial space, which will be made up of office space and an auditorium that can be rented out for events.

According to Upshaw, the property is within walking distance of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and City Hall is just half a mile away.

“By rehabbing it, it stabilizes a very valuable neighborhood and also helps out in terms of providing important workforce housing,” he said.

The project is expected to be complete in May 2017.