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Habitat receives approval for $400 million affordable housing redevelopment

Affordable Housing

Habitat receives approval for $400 million affordable housing redevelopment

New renderings and videos showcase project scope and resident involvement is driving the design of one of the largest affordable housing redevelopments in Buffalo, N.Y., history.

By Habitat | November 16, 2023
Affordable housing redevelopment exterior rendering
Being built in phases, Marine Drive will bring needed retail to the burgeoning Canalside neighborhood. Rendering courtesy Habitat

Chicago-based Habitat, a leading U.S. multifamily developer and property manager, announced that its $400 million redevelopment of Marine Drive Apartments in Buffalo, N.Y., has received planned unit development (PUD) approval by the Buffalo Common Council, paving the way for the affordable housing project to become reality. The equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD), a joint venture with real estate firm Duvernay + Brooks and the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BHMA), will include approximately 700 apartment units across multiple buildings, making it one of the largest affordable redevelopments in the city’s history.

Located along the city’s waterfront and a short distance from the Erie Canal Harbor Metro Rail station, the current community at 205 Marine Drive comprises 616 units across seven 12-story towers. Built more than 70 years ago, the complex has fallen into disrepair in recent years, necessitating replacement of the structures.

Affordable Housing Community: Marine Drive Apartments

Phase one of redeveloping Marine Drive Apartments includes building a mix of new towers on the surface parking lot adjacent to its current buildings. The 300,000-sf phase one complex will comprise low-, mid- and high-rise buildings, a parking garage and commercial space. The phased development approach will allow residents to move directly into the new properties from their current apartments without being displaced. Phase one is expected to break ground in late 2024.

“We have been overwhelmed by the tremendous support citywide for a new Marine Drive, which expands much-needed affordable housing in the area and keeps current residents in the place many have called home for several decades,” said Jeff Head, Vice President of Development, Habitat Affordable Group. “The site has historic significance dating back to Buffalo’s earliest days as a commercial center and offers convenience to employment, recreation and entertainment options downtown and easy access to other parts of the city via the light rail and interstate.”

Aerial view of affordable housing redevelopment plans
The equitable transit-oriented development will include a mix of low-, mid- and high-rise buildings, parking and commercial space. The phase one complex will be built on the current Marine Drive surface parking lot, allowing residents to move directly into the new properties from their current apartments. Courtesy Habitat

An exhaustive feasibility study of the current Marine Drive towers, which were completed in 1952, determined that replacing the existing buildings with new, modern housing made the most economic sense as it would be less expensive than a complete rehab of the current structures, which are all in need of new building systems, windows, facades, and roofs.

To help inform decisions about the new Marine Drive, the property’s current residents were heavily involved in the community feedback process through a series of private planning meetings and town hall forums with the developers. Habitat recently released two videos, “Community Interaction” and “Rebuild Over Rehab,” highlighting the project scope and community involvement that helped bring the project to fruition. 

“I am extremely excited, especially for the fact that the new Marine Drive buildings will be ADA accessible, which will greatly improve the quality of life for my daughter who is living with a disability,” said Barbara Aviles, who has been a Marine Drive resident since 2007. “The neighborhood is a beautiful place to live, with so much to do in the area like restaurants, roller skating, the waterfront, and it’s convenient to get to work using the bus system and train. I am grateful the developers and BMHA took feedback from residents, as it feels like we are getting a lot of what we asked for, especially in the layouts of our living room and bedrooms.”

With the PUD now approved, the Marine Drive development team is focused on getting final design approval from the city and filing financing applications with the state of New York by the end of 2023. The project is anticipated to be completed by 2029.

Affordable housing redevelopment exterior rendering
Chicago-based Habitat, in partnership with Duvernay + Brooks and the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, has announced PUD approval for a redevelopment of Marine Drive Apartments in Buffalo, N.Y., which will be one of the largest affordable housing projects of its kind in city history. Rendering courtesy Habitat

Habitat is working on a similar ETOD in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood called 43 Green. The first of three mixed-use, mixed-income properties, which are adjacent to the Chicago Transit Authority’s 43rd Street Green Line L station, opened to residents this past summer, with 43 Green’s second building expected to top off by the end of the year. Upon completion, the $100 million project will bring approximately 300 new apartments to the area.

For more information on Marine Drive, visit www.engagetheteam.com/marinedrive.

About Habitat:
Founded in 1971, Habitat is a full-service residential real estate company specializing in property management, acquisitions and development. One of the largest residential property developers and managers in the United States, with over $3 billion in assets and more than 16,000 units under management across six states, the company’s portfolio spans a range of property types, from mid- and high-rise condominium, apartment and adaptive reuse developments to senior and affordable housing communities. Headquartered in Chicago, with more than 800 employees throughout the United States, Habitat is dedicated to improving the communities it serves through innovation and a commitment to excellence. For more information, visit www.habitat.com.

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