From the Road: Buffalo, NY

In Buffalo, New York, there is a great architectural legacy forged by two centuries of commerce and some of the countries finest examples of architectural style from the Louis Sullivan Guaranty Building to the Art Deco Buffalo City Hall. Because the city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, there are many opportunities for historic rehabilitation projects utilizing federal and state historic tax credits. That is why tomorrow I will present with my peers from the legal, accounting, development communities as well as the State Historic Preservation Office, and overview of the tax credit programs and the impacts they can have on a city like Buffalo at Transforming Communities with Historic Tax Credits Buffalo, NY, An IPED Conference. The program will include and overview of the basics, the impact of the state historic credit and other programs, case studies and a discussion of hot button issues.

I have seen first hand the impact the combination of the state and federal historic credits can have with our work on PS 60, now Riverside Apartments, in the Black Rock Neighborhood of Buffalo. MHA worked with our client DePaul, a private non-profit housing and service agency founded in 1958, to help them acquire state and federal historic tax credits for the redevelopment of the former Public School #60 (PS 60) first constructed in 1898 and significantly expanded in 1922. The elementary school was converted to 68 units of housing, a larger number of them with supportive services for individuals with mental health issues.


Working with SWBR Architects out of Rochester, NY, MHA guided DePaul through the entire historic tax credit process including a National Register Nomination. Some of the larger challenges for the project included preservation of the formal 1922 auditorium and grand stair. The former gymnasium was converted to housing units and a new secure main entrance was artfully designed by SWBR. Given the adaptive use of the building, there were significant life safety and other compliance issues that had to be overcome.

DePaul’s attorneys at Nixon Peabody can attest to the fact that every penny of the state and federal historic tax credit equity, as well as many other sources, was needed to make the project work financially. And it did work. This award-winning project is a great example of the transformative power of the historic tax credits.