Saturday, January 30, 2010

Restoring and Greening the Neighborhood

PUSH Buffalo, Homefront Inc., and the Massachusetts Avenue Project are restoring vacant and abandoned houses on Buffalo's West Side and re-energizing them using environmentally-friendly solar and geothermal heating systems. In addition to these green rehabilitation efforts, their strategy focuses on job creation and urban agriculture, and it is being looked at by NY State as a model for neighborhood redevelopment.

NY Gov. David Paterson
recently proposed the Sustainable Neighborhoods Project to revitalize vacant homes across the state by using existing state resources to create long-term affordable city housing. He said that he would start with Buffalo’s 23,000 vacant houses, and that the Sustainable Neighborhood Project will invest in environmentally-responsible projects that develop blighted property, vacant land, community gardens and urban agriculture.

In The Buffalo News:
State looks at West Side as model for redevelopment

Developers using environmentally friendly strategies to curb vacant housing
PUSH Buffalo activists view Paterson's pledge and a subsequent visit by the governor's aide as an indication the state may be nearing a decision to help fund their multimillion-dollar neighborhood development.
I think they're assessing our work," said Aaron Bartley, executive director of PUSH, one of the groups spearheading the development. "The level of interest they've shown tells me they're interested in what we're doing."

What PUSH and its partners, Homefront and the Massachusetts Avenue Project, are doing is overseeing a redevelopment strategy that emphasizes more than just housing rehabilitation. It also focuses on job creation and the environment.

The plan targets a 25-block area directly south of West Ferry Street and west of Richmond Avenue, with an eye toward rehabilitating abandoned homes and revitalizing vacant lots and public spaces.

The primary focus is on housing, with plans for a green-designed rehabilitation of about 200 housing units, three-quarters of them vacant.

"If we really want to make a dent in the housing problem on the West Side," Bartley said, "we have to hit at least 100 vacant housing units."

If this development has an edge over others, it may be the proven track record of the three community groups leading the effort. Each of them has had success in redeveloping vacant properties.

Together, they have completed a green-designed rehabilitation of six vacant housing units and are working on 17 other units right now.

Read the report by Phil Fairbanks in The Buffalo News.

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