Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
SEP 30- OCT 07, 2014

Support for South Junior 'Poorly' Thought Out Development Effort Based on 'Poor' Planning

September 30, 2014

The old abandoned South Junior High School is planned for $400,000 per unit taxpayer- subsidized, low income housing. But does this city need more low income housing?

On Monday (Sept. 29), the city council passed a resolution presented by President Charles Walker titled, "Expressing Support for Niagara Falls City Lofts."

The resolution supports a project that will, according its developer Ben Upshaw, create 65 one-and two-bedroom subsidized, mostly low-income rental apartments, plus 23,000 square feet of commercial space and 47 parking spaces in the old South Junior High School, on Portage Road between Ferry and Walnut, at a incredible cost of $26 million.

That is more than $400,000 per unit and subsidized by 89 percent federal, state, county and city taxpayers.

The South Junior project goes back to 2008 when architect Clinton Brown, a campaign contributor to Mayor Paul Dyster, first launched the proposal to turn the 92-year-old, long vacant school into an apartment house with retail space and offices on the ground floor.

At the time it was referred to as the "Niagara Falls City Lofts Civic Revitalization Project."

That proposal sat idle until 2013 when CB-Emmanuel, a Queens-based developer of low-income housing, owned by Benathan Upshaw and Richard Bramwell, Jr., joined the project, with Brown continuing as architect, and simplified the name to "The Niagara Falls City Lofts Project."

The new developer's proposed financial plan, dated Oct. 25, 2103, shows the developers will not be investing any of their own money into the project. In fact it is just the opposite. The developer will get a $3 million fee upfront from taxpayers, subsidies and loans.

Brown and company, as architects, are slated for an estimated $3 million in fees.

The $26 million project will be financed mainly by a $7 million New York Restore grant; $10 million in federal grants from the Home and Low Income Housing Tax Credits Program and $6.5 million in New York State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program.

On top of that, the developer will get a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) from the city that will reduce property taxes to six percent of gross rents. The typical landlord in Niagara Falls pays about 25 percent of rents in property taxes in this high-taxed city.

This project is one more plan supported by the Dyster administration that brings developers to the table in order to enrich themselves while building additional subsidized housing in Niagara Falls that is neither asked for by the residents nor suggested by realty professionals.

A few weeks ago angry residents from the 39th Street neighborhood took the council and mayor to task by circulating a petition against a subsidized housing project. The 39th Street neighbors feared that the proposed housing project, being touted as a veterans housing initiative, was destined to become low-income housing.

The mayor has more low income proposals on the drawing board such as the Visions Housing initiative in which subsidized housing will – if approved and realized – be constructed in a building that formerly housed the Niagara Falls School district offices at 607 Walnut Avenue along with 543 Sixth Street and a couple of homes on Seventh Street.

In 2005, the Niagara Falls Housing Authority proposed the Hope VI housing project. The 282-unit project cost $80 million, meaning that each housing unit cost $250,000, most of it paid for by taxpayers.

There are the low income, subsidized Harry S. Jordan Gardens on Highland Avenue, 100 units; Packard Court, Pine Avenue, 166 units; Anthony Spallino Towers, Tenth Street, 182 units; Henry E. Wrobel Towers, Niagara Avenue, 250 units; Beloved Community, Calumet Avenue, 215 units.

All of these are property tax free and additionally the rents of the tenants themselves are subsidized by taxpayers.

Today, all across the city, private landlords, who are not getting taxpayer subsidies, are struggling to get enough rent to pay taxes.

Tomorrow, whoever moves into this new South Junior project will likely come from houses and apartments already here.

This will mean more houses will become vacant, unless of course CB Emmanuel imports low income people from other areas. If they do, taxpayers here will pick up the cost of Medicaid, welfare and other expenses associated with the poverty industry.

So what precisely is the purpose of creating new, publicly-subsidized housing here?

There can be two reasons. The first is the traditional reason for subsidized housing-- that rents are so high in an area that without subsidized low-rent housing, apartments are too expensive to rent for low income people.

But that isn't true in Niagara Falls, where rents in private landlord units are from $300- 700 per month.

The other reason for subsidized housing is to enrich private developers who literally make millions building poverty projects.

But, as the poverty industry makes millionaires out of developers, it's a poor way to develop a city, and literally speaking, very much "poor planning."





Read It and Weep: Controller's Report Reflects Drop in Casino Cash
Casino Revenue Cut by $1.4 Million; Dyster Wants $1.5 Million for State
USA?Niagara Gets A $500,000 Spike in Management Fees From Casino Cash.... But Why?
With Dyster's Planned City Share of Casino Cash Going to State, Change Will Be Enormous
New Use for Totes Discovered in Falls
New Info Emerges: County GOP Crafted RFQ to Meet Size Requirements Larger than Needed, But Exactly the Space Ulrich had Available There's enough extra space to have a disco, yet county taxpayers pay for it, and the utilities
From the Publisher
Arnold Calls for End to Maziarz Rule, Endorses Destino for Senate
Dyster Administration Never Promised Us a Rose Garden
Lewiston Council Races May Boil Down to Trust, Personality, or Giving Dem Majority to Brochey
Support for South Junior 'Poorly' Thought Out Development Effort Based on 'Poor' Planning
Anello, Darro, Paonessa Are the Talk of the Town
Maziarz Appears at Pendleton Historic Event, Honoring Founding of the Township With Marker
Why is America a Republic and Not a Democracy?
Dead Ducks: DEC Announces Release of Pheasants for Hunting Season
Governor Debate in Buffalo: Green Party's Hawkins Wants More Debates, Cites Jesse Ventura's seven debates and upset victory
New Pictorial Book on Tonawanda and North Tonawanda: 1940-1960
Rebutting Critics and Al Gore, 'There Has Been No Global Warming in 18 Years'
CWM?District Manager Cites Reasons for, Rebuts Arguments Against CWM?Expansion
Letters to the Editor
Local Talk Show Jokes, Not Nice and Not Funny

Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina