2/11/2011

Housing Visions Update/Info

Posted by MJ

The only subject as popular as the concerts and the sports complex is back in the news. The Buffalo News reported that the current iteration of the community initiated Housing Visions plan for the Pine/Genessee area has taken a step forward in the funding process:
The Syracuse not-for-profit agency that plans an extreme makeover of a blighted Lockport neighborhood has been approved for more than $1 million in state funding, Alderman Jack L. Smith Jr. announced Wednesday.
Housing Visions received the money from a state homeless housing assistance program, which was passing on federal funding.
Smith, D-2nd Ward, said the approval probably resulted in large part from an early application and the partnership of the YWCA of Niagara, which intends to use some of the new housing for victims of domestic violence.
They announced their application for the $1.1 million interest-free state loan last August...
Here are some renderings/floor plans/unit details for the project as it stands:

Rendering 84 Locust
Rendering 163 Genesse
Rendering 261 Genesse
Rendering 267 Genesse

Rendering Pine St

Preliminary Plans
Preliminary Data

From a design standpoint it is nice to see that the buildings are unique and compliment the neighborhood architecture.

A miss is the lack of hierarchy in the entry ways. When entries are not differentiated it gives off the look of a multi-unit. When doorways are sized differently and placed in different locations it gives a multi-unit house the look of a single unit. Symmetry is not our friend in this instance.

Here's an example from Waterman St. near Genesee. The structure has three entryways. A larger main one at the left, a secondary one placed slightly smaller and set back at the right and then another at the rear. Three separate entries that could lead to three separate units but scaled and placed to "hide" the multi-unit stigma (not to mention just looking "right").

There will be the excuse of not being able to look "too much" like the existing neighborhood due to state preservation laws but good design is still good design.

Simple tweaks and the house no longer looks fish-eyed:


 $ Dollar Figures of the project were previously discussed here:
Housing Visions Figures

54 comments:

Xavier said...

Testing

Anonymous said...

How can the state afford to give this money away? Cuomo says we are bankrupt. And how much extra in welfare costs are we going to be paying as we pay the rent on these apartments? And how many kids will be in them, increasing our school costs, - but yet they aren't going to pay any school taxes???
What a crock, to fix a low income ghetto area we are going to add more hi densiity apartment houses...

MJ said...

The article appears to state this portion is federal money and a no-interest loan.

Anonymous said...

$272,727.27 a unit. That is the cost of each apartment. Consider that please,city residents.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

No, don't disagree with Jack. Spending a quarter a million dollars to pack tons more apartments on Genessee St is good for us. We need to add more low income people to the area, not try and build it up. The more low income we add to Lockport, the more state3 aid we get.
And don't worry, they won't pay taxes up front but just think, every year they will pay 5% more each year!
And it's OK to take these state dollars because it's not as many dollars as we were going to use on the school project, a litttle bit (just $1,000,000) is ok!
last thing, who is going to pay the rent on these quarter million dollar apartmrnts - it's got to be pretty high rent, doesn't it? Oh, let me guess, it's social services!

Anonymous said...

No it's better to go for over a decade with boarded up homes, drug dealing and no hope on the horizon. No one wants to do anything, but that's ok.

Anonymous said...

Give me the $9,000,000 they want from us and I could buy and fix the whole street, not 9 houses!
Politicians should treat money like it is coming from their own pocket. Would anyone in their right mind spend $1,00,000 perf house on Genessee st? Or anywhere in Lockport for that matter?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't we give houses to people, Habitat for Humanity? Let folks live in them and repair them with no taxes owed for 10 years? I think if there was a real plan to rehab the housing stock in place it could happen. Low income housing at $275,000.00 each is pretty far out. I figure that is comperable to the housing on DeSales Circle\Bonner Dr. Nobody gave Norm Bonner any tax deferments.

Anonymous said...

Now you can smoke, sell crack AND live in style!

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Lockport, anchored by two projects on each side of town. An ever expanding low income/welfare center and the Urban Park Towers centerpiece. What we need now is a bigger Social Services building, those poor welfare recipients have to wait too long in line every month. I also think they deserve more minutes on their free cell phones, all paid for by the working man of course.

I can't wait to get the f*@k out of Dodge!

Anonymous said...

Oh c'mon you are wrong, expanding the low income housing on Genessee St will help the city, just ask the mayor or Jack. The houses will be pretty and the landlords will be tough, so it is all great!
And by the way 7:27 am poster, that's $275,000 per apartment, not house! The average cost per house is $1,000,000! That's way over Bonner Drive teritory.

MJ said...

As I've stated before it would have been wise for the city to propose some type of homesteading/tax abatement plan for the area in general in unison with this project. There is still time if anyone in the city is listening.

Big projects like this rarely work on their own. While providing a possible anchor with new high quality builds/rehabilitations it will stall there if no further plans are initiated to involve the private sector.

This is being done right by avoiding the apartment complex site layouts and going with structures that blend into the existing housing stock (besides the big ones on Pine). But still there are not enough pie-in-the-sky dreamers out there to allow it to progress further with every other variable remaing the same. People need a program or two to make a decent return on investment possible in one of the neediest areas.

There needs to be a long range vision-plan-etc for the area.

Anonymous said...

I live a block up the street from where they want to build these buildings. All I can say is that these are some of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen! And I don't see how anybody could say that they would "fit in" with the surrounding victorian homes. I too feel, less apartments and more homesteading is needed. I would be more than willing to fix up a "grand old lady" down in the Genesee Street area. Our hold up is the huge amount of money needed for closing on a house.

Anonymous said...

How do you have the nerve to say $1,000,000 houses could possibly be ugly?

MJ said...

The State Historic Preservation Office does not allow buildings to "exactly" match existing ones (which I disagree with). And I feel the envelope could have been pushed more here. Renovating more houses instead of new builds would also help this. But these are much better than structures such as the duplex at High and Waterman, the apartment complex at the end of cottage st, etc.

Current home ownership rates are 67% and expected to drop 10% in the next decade. In urban areas they drop to about 50% (for a multitude of reasons.) Rentals are not pure evil and structures with an income sweet can be vary favorable to the owner and the neighborhood. Some people just don't want to buy or can't afford to even though tey are good people. Especially in an area where the return on investment is shakey at best. Money saved renting can also be used as disposible income in the area nearby.

Many of the existing houses are too large for one family. Income sweets should be encouraged. The extra spending power would only help downtown which needs density nearby to thrive.

And yes: the city NEEDS a housing policy/plan to make reinvestment a competitive option. The other path of a slow slide in housing stock to nothing is not a viable option. Short term tax hits need to made now for longer term stablization and hopefully growth (if not survival)

MJ said...

not sure why I used "sweets" instead of "suites"

Anonymous said...

dang spell checkers!

Laurie said...

I actually googled it thinking it was some term i didn't know. Income Sweets.

Anonymous said...

This is a serious question, not a slam on anyone.

1. Has the city attorney verified that Jack Smith could legally vote on a proposal that benefited a corporation that he is an officer in? (PLEASE NOTE, I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT JS IS IN THIS FOR PERSONAL GAIN - BUT I DON'T BELIEVE HE SHOULD BE VOTING ON AN ISSUE LIKE THIS)
2. Will the school district get any tax money from these low income 'sweets' (lol)?
3. Besides the tax dollars given to build these, will we as local taxpayers be paying money to suupplement the rent payments? I don't see how you can put $270,000 in to an apartment and rent it at low income levels.
4. Does Mr. Smith really have an interest in a company that might benefit from this $9M project or is that just an ugly rumor?

Concerned said...

Read in the Buffalo news today a PRIVATE developer is spending $28,000,000 with only $2M of that being from the state to create 81 loft apartments renting for $1500 per month! Plus retail space on the bottom floor.
How does that compare to our boondoggle of $9,000,000 for 34 low income apartments! Which project will help the city more do you think?


PS - Why no answers to the previous post questions?

Concerned said...

Sorry, I forgot to mention that was in NT --

Jack Smith said...

And now the whole story on Remington Lofts in NT.

From Buffalo News 10/15/08
Kissling has already received financial help for the project, including a $1 million state grant, through the Restore New York program, and $400,000 a year in Niagara County tax breaks. He is waiting on final environmental approval.

From Buffalo News 4/17/09
The developer has received a $1 million state grant through the Restore New York program, as well as tax breaks through the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, tax credits through the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, as well as incentives through the state brown-field cleanup program.

From Buffalo News 3/18/10
“We have no offers yet,” Kissling said of his efforts to sell tax credits, “but I think this will help a lot. The state did the right thing.”

$1.75 million in state grants, $400,000 in County tax breaks, $155,000 in sewer upgrades(cost born by NT), and the sale of New York State tax credits to private investors. The Remington Lofts story. btw-started at $15,000,000 and now up to $28,000,000

Answers to the questions from 1:48 PM
1) yes
2) yes
3) to the same extent that you already do
4) if you're referring to the company that I work for who may bid on this project just like they did the Remington Lofts project and hundreds of others since I started there in 1998, then yes, do I have any control over what they bid on, no

I realize that as long as Lockport has the Dept. of Social Services downtown, we will have low income housing with-in walking distance. And if we are going to have it, I want a management company that actually does thorough tenant screening with a zero tolerance policy and an exceptional property maintenance program as a model for other landlords. After all, THIS IS GOING IN MY BACKYARD! That is my real interest in this project! Will this cure all that ails Lockport's housing problems? No, but it can be a catalyst, and if I didn't believe that, I would pull the plug in a heartbeat.

Concerned said...

You have a right to your opinion, and unfortunately you also are in a position to make it happen by being on the council.
Many of us happen to disagree with your opinion that spending $1,000,000 a house on Genessee St makes any economic sense at all and that packing in apartments by getting variances to allow too many apartments in the building and not providing enough parking makes any sense.
By amending the zoning/building code laws for these buildings you have set yourself up for failure as you will only attract the same low income people who currently live on the street. Except in this case you will probably be attracting out of town people to fill them up. Your super landlords will have a choice of empty apartments or low lifes living there as working people won't, especially without parking.
And it still feels like a scam, as there is no such thing as a free lunch. I would think $275,000 apartments would have to rent for thousands a month to be financially viable. If these are only going to rent for $400-600 a month, who is going to make the payments on these 'credits'? Us as taxpayers.
And you seem to be avoiding the question of how much school taxes will they be paying. Will they pay a full share, especially considering how many kids will probably be living there?
It will be a catalyst, but for more hi-density low income apartments in your neighborhood. The city won't be able to turn down other people wanting variances, unless they want more law suits.
And Kissling does have most of the 81 units rented at $1500 per month - now that makes sense!

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

But how can they possibly make money selling them when they will have $1,000,000 invested in each house? The entire street (minus Prudden and Kandt's properties) aren't worth that.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You have to understand the costs associated with building a house from scratch or even rehabilitating a house. $272,727.27 a unit? No it's not what the unit is worth or even what the house is worth. I'm pretty sure, knowing from experience, that you are unaware that there are costs of architects, attorney's, and other pre-construction costs that the company is putting into the cost/unit. Our elected City Officials understand that and you should really make a better case than just that the next election will solve the issue. ALL capital improvement projects whether residential or commercial or otherwise have much more in terms of "soft costs" than what you see when the final product is finished.

------------------------

Anonymous said...
$272,727.27 a unit. That is the cost of each apartment. Consider that please,city residents.

2/11/2011 4:27 PM
Rocketboy said...
I think we already did. Unfortunately there's nothing that can be done until the next election cycle.

Anonymous said...

It's still $9,000,000 for 9 buildings! Do you really think that even including all the lawyers, architects, janitors, heating consultants, etc. that you would ever want that you couldn't build an apartment house on Genessee St for a heck of a lot less than that?
I am positive you could rehab the entire street for $9,000,000!

Concerned said...

Question for our experts, I have been doing some reading on tax credits. Eligible properties seem to be defined by this -
"Owners of income producing real properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places may be eligible for a 20% federal income tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation of historic properties."

So, are you telling me these houses on Genessee St on the national register? Does that even include the Lockport Trophy building?

Jack Smith said...

http://www.novoco.com/low_income_housing/lihtc/federal_lihtc.p

Try starting your research here.

Anonymous said...

you could buy almost all of the houses on the brick part of willow for nine million dollars. how in the heck can this boondoggle even be considered in this economic climate. the fact that we are pouring vast amounts of money into this part of town seems unbelievable.we will see how long they keep the bad influence out.empty pockets have a way of changing views and policy.this is government at its worst,give to the poor enrich the rich and stick the middle with the bill.thanks for this. the sports complex almost looks like a good deal compared to this slight of hand...

Anonymous said...

In my research everything I have found says that to be eligible for historical tax credits the residences have to be on the national historic register. Are these houses?
It is also evident (as the sports complex gets dissed as a misuse of state funds) that the money is meant for saving buildings that deserved to be saved, not building such as the old Lockport Trophy building.

Anonymous said...

Bump - is Lockport Trophy on the historical register?

Anonymous said...

im not sure you understand how to use 'bump'.. this isnt a message board lol!!!!

Anonymous said...

it's not a message board, but a recent comment on something that has been dead for 10 days does, "bump" it up as active again in the RSS feed...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the backup, some people are too smart for their own good!

We Deserve Better said...

These buildings (old or tentative new) are not on the National Register. It's oxymoronic to consider that a new bldg. would be. There are Historic Districts recognized by the Feds such as the Canal Corridor a/k/a Market-Clinton Streets. There are a couple others, but I'm fairly certain Lockport Trophy isn't on any such list.
Being on the National Register doesn't do much more than allow you to buy a brass plaque for your house. Then you're inviting restrictions you might not like.
HV will do what it wants. I agree with MJ's comment re: moving the doors around & I'd suggest getting DSS the hell off Main Street & tucking it in a corner somewhere. I don't want my City "scapegoat" determined by where the Welfare Dept. is located. Put it ALL on 10th Street or in NT. I'm not very concerned about their convenience. People in Alden have to go to the Rath Bldg.

We Deserve Better said...

Sorry-cityscape.

Anonymous said...

The point is the gov't money is coming from historical tax grants that are supposed to be going to preserve historical buildings such as some of the old buildings being restored in Buffalo. I don't think it is intended to restore old gas stations/jewelry stores like Lockport Trophy.
More info for the article I'm hoping Readers Digest comes through with about wasted tax dollars, similar to the one they did years ago about the tobacco money going to the gold course!

Xavier said...

Are you sure that Historical dollars will be going to Housing Visions? If so, I have a major problem with that. We have far too few dollars which are needed to try to "save" the history of this City which, I believe, is our greatest asset.
If Historical money is going to build new apartments for low income housing, I'll have a bit of a fit and will speak out publicly against it.
I just can't see how they could manage to do that. Some reference would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

Yes, look at the one post above where Jack Smith gives the web site that explains it.
They are 'historical tax credits'.

Xavier said...

Thank you. I'll check it out after I do what I HAVE to do today.
That will make a big difference in my opinion on the subject. Tearing down slums to put up decent apartments is one thing - let's not get into how the new ones will be slums within a year just yet - but NOT by using HISTORICAL tax credits.
We're scrambling for crumbs as it is - to save that which IS Historical in this City. I sure don't want any of that money going to new apts.

MJ said...

I too preferred when the plan was mostly house rehabilitations with a few strategic in-fills.

Anonymous said...

MJ - I think the one that especially gets me is putting two (or is it 3) apartment houses where Lock Trophy is. Yes, it's not a great building but aren't there a lot more eyesores on that street that should have been taken care of? Squeezing units into that lot shows they are looking at making money, not improving the area.

MJ said...

The old trophy store plot is ripe for infill. It's a great corner that sould be designed for. Simlar to approaching the Bewely Buidling from the South or Grace Episcopal from the North. I brought it up at the Zoning Meeting.

These two proposed buildings scream low income housing by their site plan and I don't feel they "add" to the neighborhood. Hence why I voted against that variance. 3->4 victorian style houses along pine mimiking the houses across the street would have been wonderful. The one on the NW corner could have had a wrap around porch/turret feature to anchor the corner and the view from Main St to the north.

Although they hit on the importance of set-backs, materials etc, they missed the mark on this plot/corner. Two similar buildings, way out of scale to the rest of the neighborhood, both ignoring the corner and with on large parking pad out back = low income project. The price being paid here should get us more.

Xavier said...

That sounds great MJ! Even a public garden of some sort. I love wraparound porches!
We're working so hard to "clean up" this City and someone like HV comes along and puts something like THAT out there?! Using HISTORIC $$$ ??? Jeez - that stinks! We NEED that money to help homeowners keep their historic homes in shape!
Long day - haven't had time to read your link - will do tomorrow.
Thanks

george2012 said...

Is it public knowledge as to what contractors are doing this project? Did any local people get work out of it?

sugarrayjones said...

I'd like to know that too....I was at one public meeting with HV and made my feeling know that the project would make more sense if local trades were hired and people in the community would benefit.

george2012 said...

MJ - have you heard who has been hired?

Anonymous said...

How do i get a hold of the people so i can fill out an application for the apartments? Please and thank you.

Anonymous said...

there is a now leasing sign with a phone # at the corner of Pine and Genesee.

Dirk Diggler said...

Just wait untill those homes are filled with low income, crack smoking, silverbacks. The places will be trashed within a month or so and will look like every other dump along Washburn St.

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