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Perry Projects makeover: Plans discussed for demolition, renovation

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is taking the wraps off a plan called Reimagining The Perry Community.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is now focusing its plans to transform one of its complexes, which has been regarded as a major eyesore for a long time.

2 On Your Side learned more on what to expect for the Perry Projects in the Old First Ward.

It's rather hard to miss what some see as downright blight in the complex. That would be the boarded up three-story, red-brick housing authority units along Perry Street and side streets.

But now the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is taking the wraps off its plan called Reimagining The Perry Community. It's a concept executive director Gillian Brown says could overall run over $300 million to complete with key investments from the federal, state, and city governments.

City Councilman Mitch Nowakowski of the Fillmore District points out that "people from all levels of government are identifying this large acre in this neighborhood that's been long forgotten, that needs to be redeveloped for the residents of Perry."

Nowakowski views the 30-acre Perry site as kind of a missing link bordered between the more vibrant downtown, Cobblestone, and Larkinville districts in the city development chain beginning at Canalside. 

So now Brown hopes for diligent demolition with careful asbestos abatement for the 1950s-era, three-story buildings to be well underway by next summer. That would clear the way for more of a planned community of homes.

The councilman concurs with the idea of mixed-income tenants and federal guarantees of no displacement of any current resident. He spoke about the site plan this way.

"It had curb appeal, it had parking in the rear, it had front porches and doors and pitched roofs," Nowakowski said. "There will be some form of green space in the rear of these town homes, and you know, greenery. You know, the access to added trees really taking it from a neighborhood granular view of how do you build a neighborhood."

Nowakowski added: "Most housing complexes or affordable housing complexes are one or two bedrooms, and in this draft plan they have three, four, five bedrooms to really accommodate families."

Housing Authority executive director Gillian Brown sees a potential for several hundred renovated or new units, again, at a mixed income level for this Perry community, as it's called.

There is one interesting point. There was talk of a potential Bills downtown stadium building site at this location near South Park and the 190 highway. Gillian Brown contends those rumors did not hold up this Perry planning.

Nowakowksi disagreed, saying: "With no evidence that at all the Bills were looking to do that, I really believe that it was speculation and that those stories that left that neighborhood in limbo for over a decade."

Brown also confirmed in a phone call to Channel 2 that the authority is also looking at renovations for the Marine Drive and Shafer Village complexes as well. So overall, with Perry, that could put such work perhaps in the $1 billion range over the next 10 years or so.



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