KeyBank announced it will provide $12 million in capital to help develop the Niagara City Lofts in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
The adaptive-use project by CB-Emmanuel Realty will convert the abandoned South Junior High School, built in 1923 and vacant for more than a decade, into 61 units of affordable, workforce, and market-rate housing as well as new commercial space.
The school was headed for a taxpayer-funded demolition, estimated at $1.2 million, according to state leaders. As a former public school, the property was 100% exempt from city, county, and school district taxes. The building has suffered significant water damage and decay over years of neglect, making it a financial liability, as well.
The $24.1 million Niagara City Lofts development will provide the community with a renovated building and serve as a new source of property tax revenue, said the state.
Under the plans, 11 units will be set aside for special-needs households, including veterans. Forty-three units will be reserved for individuals earning between 50% and 60% of the area median income; eight units will be designated for rental assistance vouchers, keeping the units affordable to low-income residents for at least 15 years; and 10 units will be offered at market rate.
“This development furthers the trend of economic and housing growth within the central district of the city,” said Benathan Upshaw, principal at CB-Emmanuel Realty. “Niagara City Lofts could not have happened without a collaboration among the citizens of Niagara Falls, city, county, and state officials, and the private investment by KeyBank and RBC.”
KeyBank is providing a $12 million construction loan. Niagara City Loft is funded in partnership with the New York State Homes and Community Renewal, New York State’s Empire State Development Corp., and RBC Capital Markets—Tax Credit Equity Group.
In addition to providing a diverse set of housing options for the community, Niagara City Lofts will offer residents supportive services, administered by Independent Living of Niagara County.
"[KeyBank’s] Community Development Lending and Investment (CDLI) platform is designed to fund a diverse set of affordable housing options," said Robert Likes, national manager of CDLI, in a statement. "We're very proud to support community developments like the Niagara City Lofts, which will help alleviate a widespread affordable housing crisis in this country. The school building, once renovated, will offer valuable housing to those who need it most and become source of pride."