Perry Street stretches from HarborCenter in Downtown Buffalo through the Cobblestone District and into South Buffalo’s Old First Ward. Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) travels the 1.1 mile route frequently and, troubled by the vacant and deteriorating conditions of publicly owned property in the area, is proposing a plan to help the neighborhood reach its great potential.
“The pervasive emptiness and deterioration of properties in the Perry neighborhood is unacceptable and has been discounted for too long,” said Congressman Higgins. “Less than a mile from the bustling Canalside and Cobblestone districts sits 12 abandoned and boarded up buildings as well as a community impatient for action. The status quo should not be tolerated. We need a focused and proactive approach to neighborhood revitalization in the Perry neighborhood. ”
The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) is currently involved in a plan for the redevelopment of 172 units within the Perry neighborhood under the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. The RAD program allows for private sector investment in publicly owned property toward the goal of improving and preserving affordable housing.
The BMHA is seeking demolition funding through New York State for this property but it is unclear when or if this funding will become available. Rather than waiting for public funding to materialize, Higgins is calling on the BMHA to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to private developers to purchase these abandoned properties, which sits on 12.8 acres, as well as the BMHA owned vacant 7.6 acres immediately to the south.
Higgins pointed to an example of transformation just down the road from the Commodore Perry Development, “We need to look no further than a couple of blocks away to see the potential. Steps away we have a nearly 100-year-old food terminal that has been redeveloped into high-demand, historic, luxury lofts. The same potential for creative redevelopment is possible here if we open up this vacant property to interested developers eager to invest in Buffalo’s rebirth.”
Congressman Higgins also plans to advocate for Congress to lift the cap currently imposed on HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program to allow for BMHA to seek, in a third improvement phase, an RFP to address the redevelopment of 242 units located on the east end of Perry Street.