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BMHA drafting downsized plan for replacing blighted Perry complex

Plans to redevelop the long-vacant Commodore Perry apartments are being dusted off and revised as the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority prepares to again ask the federal government for help replacing the blighted complex with new housing.

Top BMHA officials Thursday said they've been in contact with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has indicated the Buffalo project would have a better chance of getting funded if it was scaled down from its original size.

The housing authority in 2013 unsuccessfully sought funding for a $200 million overhaul of the larger Perry neighborhood. That plans included new parks, a cultural/community center and other educational, recreational and economic components as well as replacement housing for the hundreds of vacant, boarded up apartments off Perry Street.

The new plan will focus on housing, according to Gillian Brown, the BMHA's interim executive director, and Modesto Candelario, the authority's assistant executive director.

The plan is still being reworked, so details are not yet available, they said. But the overall thrust will be more focus on redeveloping housing and less on redeveloping the larger neighborhood, they said.

The Commodore Perry apartments are a collection of complexes linking Perry Street and South Park Avenue in the city's First Ward. It consists of about 740 units, almost half of which are in six high-rise buildings constructed in 1956. Those units are nearly all occupied.

Another 400 Perry units are row houses, most of which were built in 1939, and are boarded up. Some have been vacant for more than a decade. The units are unsafe, and require major renovations the housing agency cannot afford, BMHA officials have said.

A consultant's report from several years ago determined it would cost about $43 million to fix up the vacant units, and the same $43 million to demolish and replace them.

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The BMHA's long-standing plan has been to replace the row houses, but retain the high rises.

Meanwhile, the agency is talking about spending $1 million to $2 million this year on improvements to the high rises.

That plan calls for improvements to the main entrances and common corridors of the six buildings. Entry doors and floors would be replaced, and walls would be repaired and paints, officials said. Depending on costs, the BMHA would also like to make improvements to parking lots and sidewalks at the high-rise apartments, BMHA officials said.

The plan was recently put out to bid, but costs came in higher than expected, so it is being rebid, officials said Thursday.

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