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Evergreen Lofts in downtown Buffalo provides units for homeless, chronically ill

Building Buffalo is a regular feature highlighting progress on development projects throughout the region.

Project name: Evergreen Lofts.

Address: 392 Genesee St., Buffalo.

Developer: Evergreen Association and Southern Tier Environments for Living Inc.

Cost: $16.5 million.

Government assistance: Funding from Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp., and New York State Housing Finance Agency.

Description: Conversion of five-story brick warehouse into new 56-unit low-income housing complex for the homeless and chronically ill.

Status: Open.

Lowdown: Evergreen Lofts, the new low-income housing complex in downtown Buffalo aimed at serving those who are homeless and chronically ill, is now open for tenants, less than a year after workers broke ground on the project near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The Evergreen Association – formerly AIDS Community Services but now much more diversified in its health care and social services mission – teamed up with Southern Tier Environments for Living, or STEL, to convert a five-story former warehouse at 392 Genesee St. into 56 apartments. The recently completed project in the century-old industrial manufacturing building features mostly one-bedroom units, along with four two-bedroom apartments and two three-bedroom apartments, in 64,000 square feet of space. The building also includes on-site laundry facilities, a community room with an attached kitchen and a private courtyard. Tenants can get access to Evergreen’s supportive services, such as medical, mental health and transportation.

The highly subsidized building is geared for low-income and “very low-income” individuals and families, with 28 units specifically reserved for the homeless and the ill, and eligible for funding through the federal Housing and Urban Development McKinney Continuum of Care Supportive Housing Program.

“We have been able to restore this historic building for the benefit of the neighborhood and the city,” said Steven M. Ald, director of real estate development for STEL. “This project is a natural extension of our mission of fostering healthy communities by providing medical, supportive and behavioral services to individuals and families in Western New York.”

The $16.5 million project was funded by a mixture of bank financing, tax credits and grants, including a $1.036 million grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, as well as money from the Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp., the New York State Housing Finance Agency and Homes for Working Families. First Niagara Financial Group on Monday announced that it is also providing $8.3 million in letter-of-credit financing, while purchasing $10.9 million in historic and low-income housing tax credits to support the project. The total funding is higher than the total cost because it includes both short-term and long-term financing that comes at different times and replaces each other in certain cases. The project, designed by SWBR Architects, of Rochester, broke ground in October 2015 and was built by LPCiminelli.

– Jonathan D. Epstein


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