City loans for projects that use existing buildings in downtown Buffalo will be awarded every three months – instead of once or twice a year – because the loaning agency has received $9 million from local banks.
The Buffalo Building Reuse Project loan fund, run by the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., is now taking applications through March 31 for the next round of loan awards. No one has submitted an application yet, but the agency has heard from six developers who want to apply for the program.
The potential applicants include smaller players and veteran developers. “That was one of the reasons why we launched this program, to help small to medium-sized developers get involved, especially if they’ve got a more difficult project to do,” said Brandye Merriweather, vice president of downtown development at BUDC.
The expansion of the loan fund, which has previously loaned money to projects like TM Montante Development’s Planing Mill on Elm Street, follows a significant injection of $9 million from five local banks – HSBC Bank USA, M&T Bank Corp., First Niagara Financial Group, KeyCorp and Evans Bancorp – designed to bolster the ability of BUDC to support more redevelopment projects. On top of $3 million in city-by-city funds from the state, BBRC now has $12 million available to loan. BUDC also just received a $75,000 grant from ECIDA to support the BBRP program.
The update came as BUDC approved a $750,000 loan to developer Nick Sinatra’s Phoenix Brewery project at 835 Washington St., on the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The $5.9 million project envisions 31 residential apartments, a fitness center, indoor parking and storage, and will also house an existing hair salon on the first floor. Sinatra and his partners also plan to donate 10 percent of the project proceeds to inner-city scholarship program Say Yes Buffalo.