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Brown should demolish WWII-era housing project

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

The Commodore Perry Homes is a vast public housing complex that is half abandoned — with 212 apartments vacant and uninhabitable. The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority had pursued a federal grant nearly 10 years ago to redevelop the complex, but that application was denied.

The property occupies nearly 50 acres of land in the Old First Ward, where a new Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, Riverfest Park, rebuild Ohio Street, and plans for a redeveloped DL&W Terminal have developers thirsting for shovel ready sites in the soon-to-be-hip neighborhood.

Half of the complex, about 26 acres of land between Louisiana and Hamburg Streets, was built prior to World War II. Those units are in deplorable conditions.  In recent years he property has been suggested as a potential site for a new Buffalo Bills Stadium.

Whatever the redevelopment — whether affordable housing, public space, or a major league sports stadium — the far portion of the property must be made shovel ready.

The city should embark on that task with haste; while designing a broadly participatory, citizen-driven process that plans the property’s redevelopment.  With a fund balance of nearly $90 million, the time for the city to issue an RFP for the demolition work is now.

Doing so would improve the quality of life of residents living in the adjacent portion of the complex, where more than 200 occupied public housing units exist in a section of downtown that has attracted newfound interest among investors in recent years.

If the market is not ready to redevelop the vast space, and the government unwilling to fund a major economic development or affordable housing project there, then let these 26 acres wait as public space — soccer fields, open meadows, and basketball courts.

In doing so, Mayor Byron Brown would achieve an enormous accomplishment — one that is visually compelling and endearing among every sector of the electorate.

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