Local Official Celebrate Revitalization of Buffalo’s Downtown Neighborhood with Grand Opening of Watkins Building
October 22, 2001 THE COMMUNITY PRESERVATION CORPORATION
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Public-Private Partnership of CPC, City of Buffalo And Heart of the City Neighborhoods Helps Transform Historic Building into Apartments
An historic vacant building that once hosted visitors to the Pan-American Exposition a century ago has been transformed into downtown housing for area residents, thanks to a public-private partnership between The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc. (HCN) and the City of Buffalo.
Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello, along with representatives from CPC and HCN, gathered here today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the Watkins Building, a three-story apartment complex located at 170 West Chippewa Street in Buffalo’s West Village historic preservation district.
“I commend the Community Preservation Corporation and Heart of the City Neighborhoods for taking the initiative to meet a growing demand for downtown housing in a way that will preserve one of Buffalo’s most historic buildings. I encourage other agencies to form partnerships of this nature and to devise solutions to our downtown housing challenge that continue to preserve our cultural and historic heritage,” said Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.
CPC, a private not-for-profit mortgage lender specializing in the financing of low, moderate and middle-income multi-family housing, provided $249,700 construction and permanent loan for the project. The City of Buffalo provided total funding of $201,241 for acquisition and construction. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Fannie Mae provided additional financing. Total financing for the project was $479,441. HCN, whose mission is the creation of housing and the improvement of Buffalo’s central core neighborhood, is the project developer.
The Watkins Building has been converted into six two-bedroom apartments, each equipped with new appliances, security features and pre-wiring for telephone and cable. The second and third floor apartments offer two bedrooms and two baths as well as rear decks. Handicapped accessibility is provided to the first floor units. Beautiful landscaping surrounds the building and parking is provided with a total of 6 spaces.
The Watkins Building was designed as an apartment/hotel for visitors to the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. The brick building exudes Old World charm, featuring original woodwork, large windows and ornamental fireplaces. Each apartment will have 850 square feet of living space.
The apartments have been designed to attract young professionals to the area. Public transportation is readily available, along with easy access to the nearby business and government centers of municipal, county, state and federal offices. Nearby recreational facilities include the Erie Basin Marina and LaSalle Park.
The completion of the Watkins Building culminates more than three years of planning and is another step forward for the revitalization of downtown Buffalo.
The neighborhood surrounding the project has undergone a revival with the creation of a new entertainment district along Chippewa Street, as well as the conversion of the old Roanoke Hotel into an office building with ground floor retail.
“The development of decent housing is the key to restoring neighborhoods. We are pleased to work in partnership with Heart of the City Neighborhoods and the City of Buffalo in making this outstanding project a reality,” said Brian Smith, Regional Marketing Director for CPC’s Buffalo office.
“The Watkins restores a wonderful building in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City, bringing young professionals to a thriving and diverse community. This project has been a true public/private partnership among agencies committed to strengthening the urban fabric of this historic West Village,” said Cynthia Schwartz, President of the Board of Directors of Heart of the City Neighborhoods.
Heart of the City Neighborhoods is a community-based organization formed in January 1998. It is a participant in the NYS funded Neighborhood Preservation Program and its primary funding source is the NYS Department of Housing and Community renewal.
CPC is a private, not-for-profit mortgage lender specializing in the financing of low, moderate and middle-income housing in New York and New Jersey. Sponsored by 90 banks and insurance companies, CPC has, since 1974, financed over 85,000 units of housing representing a public/private investment of more than $2.8 billion.