Organization Name: PUSH Buffalo
Project Title: School 77
Project Location: West Side, Buffalo, NY
Based on the vision of community leaders, the historically-significant School 77’s renovation created 30 apartments for seniors age 55 plus, along with office space for PUSH Buffalo, the development sponsor, and Peace of the City, a local organization offering educational programs to help youngsters succeed, break out of poverty and improve their lives. There’s also a gym for community sports and auditorium for Ujima Theatre Company, arts programming and community events. The project successfully transformed School 77 from one neighborhood anchor into another that continues to serve the area. Apartments are affordable to seniors (55+) with incomes at or below 50 percent AMI, with five units affordable for incomes at or below 30 percent AMI. Consisting of a substantial rehab/adaptive reuse of the three-story, 80,605 square-foot former Buffalo Public School built in 1927, the project incorporates energy-efficient measures and is certified with Enterprise Green Communities for its location, green design, materials and construction. School 77 includes an innovative 64kW community-distributed solar array on the rooftop providing energy for the building and senior residents at a significant savings.
Once an important industrial city, Buffalo suffered decades of economic difficulties. Over time, the city and demographics changed and it’s now a leading city for resettlement. In particular, the area around School 77 is home to an eclectic array of immigrants making a community hub, like this renovation created, critical. A few years ago, neighbors feared gentrification might claim vacant building targeted by developers for high-end apartments. But community leaders and residents, through a participatory planning process, agreed the building was ideal for an affordable, mixed-use hub. Governor Cuomo said, “As Buffalo’s economy continues to grow, projects like this are critical to transforming the city to meet the needs of Buffalo’s diverse population. The unique renovation of School 77 will not only provide low-cost senior living and a central hub for the West Side but will serve as a model for community solar projects that promote clean energy across this state and the nation.” The enormous community impact of School 77 can be summed up by this quote from County Executive, Mark Poloncarz, “Change happens when communities work together to make it happen, and this project is a great example of that."
Aaron Bartley and Eric Walker founded PUSH in 2005 to create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing, decrease the rate of housing abandonment and develop neighborhood leaders. Today, PUSH’s mission includes mobilizing residents, expanding local hiring opportunities and advancing economic justice in Buffalo.
Developer-PUSH Buffalo; Architect-Stieglitz Snyder Architects; General Contractor-RP Oakhill Building Company; Management Agent-Housing Visions Consultants; Housing Consultant-Oxford Consulting