Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today joined Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples and residents of Buffalo's East Side community at the commencement of demolition work at the long-abandoned Kensington Towers housing project. The demolition is funded with a $5 million Assembly grant and will allow for the construction of Heritage Heights, an assisted living retirement community. The development is an important step in revitalizing the East Side neighborhood and providing hundreds of much-needed jobs in the surrounding area.
"East Side residents have something to be very hopeful for in the demolition of these bleak and vacant buildings," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Today is a momentous day in the decades-long effort to rid Buffalo of these blighted structures and replace them with something this community and city will be proud of. This important phase would not be possible without the determination of Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples, who pushed hard for these funds. Her leadership is commendable in developing this site and turning around the Buffalo economy."
"After two years of planning for the demolition of Kensington Towers; we can now plan for the building of a continuing care community," said Peoples (D-Buffalo) "Data has shown that senior living is in serious demand across the region as our population continues to age. I am not alone in expressing joy that this day has finally come; to eradicate the eyesore that has plagued our community for over 30 years. This is a start towards an economic resurgence for Buffalo which can not be completed without the development and beautification of the eastside's landscape. When we presented BMHA with a $5 Million check in November 2007, many residents were overjoyed. I am proud that HLM Holdings and BMHA are moving towards keeping that promise to the citizens of this community."
The Kensington Towers complex was vacated by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority in 1982 after operating costs became too expensive to keep the projects operational. The complex consists of six, seven-story buildings located between the Kensington Expressway and Erie County Medical Center.
Since their closure, the buildings have been a significant eyesore for residents and motorists. The complex has attracted vandalism, illegal dumping and other criminal activity which has discouraged interest in the site by potential developers. The first phase of demolition will include debris removal and asbestos abatement.
Heritage Heights will be developed by HLM Holdings, Inc. and is slated to include independent and skilled nursing facilities. The new development will be within a short distance of Buffalo's expanding medical corridor.