BUFFALO, N.Y. - Construction will soon begin on a major new development for Buffalo's East Side. It's the nearly $51 million first phase of the residential and retail complex called the 'Forge on Broadway'.
It will be built on a brownfield which was a major industrial site dating back to the 1800's.
While the ceremonial groundbreaking took place Wednesday across the street, the real earth moving was underway at the Forge Site where developers plan to build the first phase of a complex with an initial 158 apartment units. Many will be affordable rents and have amenities like a green roof, gardens, and health and recreation elements with a running and walking track.
Boosters see it as a transformation project for the neighborhood on Broadway with new residents drawing business for the East Side.
New York State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes points out, "It's a commercial strip and because of this development and the investment that's being made here today, those businesses will return."
But, just as real construction begins in the next two months with the help of more than $20 Million in federal and state tax credits and subsidies, we also observe those earthmoving crews on site.
They must remove soil contaminated with metals, oil, what New York State DEC calls, semi-volatile organic compounds, and even black foundry sand. So, it's a true brownfield to be reclaimed since the demolition of old buildings wrapped up in 2007.
The project's developer is confident it will be clean for residents with up to two feet of new soil covering and pavement covering.
2 On Your Side asked Stuart Alexander about the possibility of any contamination. He replied "There is absolutely no contamination. There's nothing that's going into the air, all of the contaminants that are on the site are being controlled and removed. There is absolutely no concern that anybody should ever have."
But, the city learned a hard, costly lesson when contamination was found in the re-claimed Hickory Woods development which was built in South Buffalo back in the late 80's and 90's.
2 On Your Side also asked Mayor Byron Brown about the possibility of any contamination at a residential building project. Brown pointed out there are, "all kinds of environmental protections and reviews that have to go through the State of New York, this is a different day than the time of Hickory Woods. A lot of layers of environmental testing take place now."
The New York State DEC says they have, "rigorous oversight," under their Brownfield Cleanup program with that required soil and pavement cover over any possible remaining contaminated material.