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Campus Square near Medical Campus gets state financing for housing, stores

Redevelopment of the Pilgrim Village community north of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus can finally begin this spring.

The New York State Housing Finance Agency approved a construction and permanent financing package for the $90 million Campus Square project led by McGuire Development Co. and Pilgrim Village owner Mark Trammell. That clears the way for construction to begin in March, after months of waiting, the developers announced.

McGuire and Trammell want to remake the 12-acre affordable housing complex to create a mixed-use, mixed-income community for current residents and workers at the burgeoning medical campus. They intend to spread redevelopment over several phases and years, with a total cost of more than $200 million.

Built in 1980, Pilgrim Village has 17 residential buildings and one maintenance building, with a total of 90 units. In the first phase, five buildings with 25 townhome units would be demolished and replaced with a six-story, L-shaped building.

The new building will be located on 3.45 acres directly across from the Gates Vascular Institute, at the corner of East North and Ellicott streets. It will feature:

* 153 apartments - 98 affordable units and 55 market-rate apartments. Of the affordable units, 70 are designated as low-income apartments for tenants earning up to 60 percent of the area median, while 22 are moderate-income, for those earning up to 90 percent of the median.

* Commercial space, including a fresh-food grocery store, a coffee shop or restaurant, a bank branch, a dry cleaner, medical offices and community space with Mohammad's School of Music.

* A parking facility with 210 spaces.

The city Planning Board previously approved the project, but it was held up until the state financing could be secured. In anticipation of approval, the five older buildings were already taken down this fall.

In addition to the state-guaranteed $9 million mortgage, the financing also includes a $5.25 million new construction capital program subsidy loan, a $2.48 million Multifamily Preservation Program subsidy loan and a $2 million Better Buffalo Fund loan. There's also $20.2 million in federal low-income housing tax credits, $4.65 million in state low-income housing tax credits, $12.25 million in brownfields tax credits, a federal contract and a property tax break from Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

Meanwhile, the rest of the 65 low-income townhome units will undergo a $3 million rehab. Eventually, the second phase of construction will contain about 300 units for students, medical staff and conventional housing. At least 20 percent of the units will offer below-market rents.

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