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People Inc. project on Jefferson gets go-ahead

Two weeks after signalling their readiness to approve a major project on Jefferson Avenue, the Buffalo Planning Board formalized its support Monday for People Inc. and two development partners to construct a pair of new apartment buildings just north of the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion.

The social services nonprofit is working with Nick Sinatra and David Pawlik of CSS Construction to put up a mixed-income complex on a pair of empty blocks at 1140 and 1166 Jefferson. The two developers already own or control the 2.4 acres of land for the venture.

The $20 million project – designed to kickstart more activity on the East Side thoroughfare with new residents and businesses – calls for two three-story buildings with 84 apartments, plus stores and small businesses on the first floor. The units will all have private patios or balconies, in addition to community open spaces and shared kitchenettes, laundry and exercise facilities in each building. There will also be bicycle racks and a public art element.

Plans call for the building at 1140 Jefferson Ave. to include 48 units and 8,300 square feet of flexible commercial space. The building will have 59 parking spaces.

The second building, at 1166 Jefferson Ave., will have 36 units and 14,500 square feet of commercial or retail space, currently divided into nine units. It will have 38 parking spaces.

The 66 one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom apartments are aimed at families with incomes ranging between 30 percent and 130 percent of the area median income, or $15,000 to $75,000. Sixteen of the units may be reserved for those with developmental disabilities who can still live independently. The one-bedroom units will have about 625 square feet, while the two-bedroom apartments will have about 850 square feet.

The project, which was presented to the Planning Board two weeks ago, also received necessary zoning variances for width and parking, allowing the Planning Board to act. Officials expect to finance the project through a combination of state, federal, private and foundation sources, including tax-exempt bonds and credits. Construction could begin in the summer, with completion by summer 2018.

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