East Side Commercial Corridors
In January 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $500 million Phase II expansion (BB2) of the previously launched “Buffalo Billion” Economic Development Initiative in Western New York to continue building on the renewed economic engines and reinvigorated civic spirit throughout Buffalo and the entire Western New York region. While the original Buffalo Billion program created a dramatic shift in the direction of the region's economy, Phase II focuses on ensuring that all Western New Yorkers have an improved quality of life and includes programs at the neighborhood level in some of the areas that need it most in the region.
The City of Buffalo’s East Side comprises over 40% of the City’s total land area, over 40% of total residents, and about 30% of total jobs and businesses. The Western New York ESD Regional Office has developed a plan to outline funding recipients from the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund (ESCEDF). Funding totaling $50 million will be provided for a variety of uses, businesses, and organizations invest in the four main commercial corridors of Buffalo’s East Side – Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey Avenues. Funding will help to revive traditional main streets and commercial corridors through preserving historic buildings and fostering mixed-use private investment; funding capital improvements in neighborhood assets; expanding commercial opportunities and encouraging and enhancing walkability; and improvements to infrastructure in these neighborhoods.
ESD led community meetings on each of the four corridors – Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore and Bailey avenues – in summer 2018. During these sessions and for a couple of months following, stakeholders were invited to submit project ideas for the corridors. Those who submitted ideas were invited in for individual listening sessions with representatives from ESD, the City of Buffalo, and University at Buffalo Regional Institute to further discuss the projects. ESD and the City of Buffalo came up with funding recommendations that will be announced in early 2019.
The East Side has lagged behind the rest of the City during Buffalo’s revitalization. Through the establishment of program goals, an analysis of economic and land use data, a look at past investments, and in-depth stakeholder engagement, ESD is establishing a portfolio of catalytic projects aimed at improving economic conditions on Buffalo’s East Side. Working with other public and private funders, the Fund seeks to create a holistic and sustainable approach to revitalization and a unifying voice for the community. This Fund compliments the Governor’s previously announced investments on the East Side of $10 million for the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative and $5million for the Buffalo Central Terminal, for a total of $65 million in investments since 2017, and overall state investments of more than $237 million since 2011.