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Pilgrim Village project gets IDA tax breaks

The Pilgrim Village mixed-income housing and commercial development near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is getting nearly $1.9 million in tax breaks through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The $95 million project planned by McGuire Development and Pilgrim Village owner Mark H. Trammell’s MHT Holdings is a two-phase project that IDA board members hailed as a development that would add low-income and market-rate housing near the medical campus, along with new commercial space, in an existing neighborhood near public transportation.

“This is probably one of the best projects I’ve seen in our area,” said Rev. Darius G. Pridgen, an IDA board member and the Buffalo Common Council president. “People are not being displaced.”

“They will have the opportunity to live, play and work around different types of people than they’re currently living around,” he said. “Hopefully, this will become a model.”

In the first phase of the project, five buildings, housing 25 existing apartments, will be demolished to make way for a six-story building that will have 152 apartments and a parking structure. The new building will have 90 apartments aimed at low-income residents, along with 62 units that will rent at market rates. Another 65 existing apartments in the Pilgrim Village development are being renovated.

Residents of the demolished units are being moved to vacant units in Pilgrim Village, so no one has been completely displaced, the developers said.

The tax breaks cover only the affordable housing portion of the project, excluding the market-rate apartments and the commercial portion of the development, said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.

“This is exactly what the ECIDA should be doing” when a project has commercial and market-rate housing that don’t qualify for incentives under the agency’s eligibility guidelines, he said. “This will be strengthening the neighborhood … and also inducing new investment.”

In addition to the tax breaks, the IDA next month is expected to approve an authorization that will allow the developers to tap into more than $47 million in tax-exempt bond financing that is set aside by the state for affordable housing projects.