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Developers seek tax breaks for Nash Lofts project along Michigan corridor

A group of nine real estate investors led by architect Steven Carmina and developer Roger Trettel are hoping to get tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to help them turn six vacant properties in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor into a mixed-use project.

The group, dubbed Michigan Broadway, plans to convert four buildings on Broadway and Nash Street into the Nash Lofts, aimed at creating affordable workforce housing as well as commercial space geared for startup minority-owned businesses and offices.

The goal is to restore and reuse "a group of strategically located buildings" that have been vacant for more than 18 years, according to the developers' application to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The developers said they have already spent $150,000 to "stabilize and reinforce the existing interior walls" to keep them from falling down. "The buildings on this site are in extreme disrepair and imminent collapse," the group wrote in their application.

The $6.61 million project includes the renovation of 33,000 square feet of existing space into 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments, a full-service restaurant with banquet and takeout service, and another 7,750 square feet of commercial space. It also will include 11 indoor parking spaces and four to six outdoor spaces.

The commercial area will include offices for the NAACP and Erie County Legislator Barbara Miller Williams, as well as 1,800 square feet of additional space for another tenant.

The developers are seeking $175,000 in sales and and $30,000 in mortgage recording tax breaks from the ECIDA, which they say "will have a profound effect on our success."

That's because the rents they can expect in that part of Buffalo are lower than in other areas, they stated, and the project's proposed budget already includes nearly $750,000 just to "restore, rebuild and repair the collapsing structure in order to save it."

Without the tax breaks, the group says in its application, they would either try to sell the buildings or find other means of financing the project.

The total project cost includes $4.7 million for renovation, $425,000 for the land and $1.49 million in professional fees.

Funding includes $3 million in bank financing, $345,686 in developer investment, $1.16 million in federal historic tax credits, $904,994 in state historic tax credits, a $750,000 low-interest bridge loan from the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. and $450,000 from the state. The developers also are requesting a separate property tax break through the city's 485-a program.

The historic properties are located at 163 and 167 Broadway and 52, 56, 58 and 60 Nash. The project already has received municipal approvals from the city Planning and Preservation boards, with work slated to begin in September and finish by mid-July 2019.

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