Frequently Asked Questions
Published April 10, 2013
McCarley Gardens is a low-income public housing development
built in 1978 and owned by Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp.,
a not-for-profit housing development corporation sponsored by St.
John Baptist Church. The property consists of 150 apartment
units on 15.1 acres bounded by Michigan Avenue and Oak, Goodell and
Virginia streets. This parcel is located within the borders of the
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, a 100-acre district on the northern
edge of downtown that has been identified by local and state
leaders as the focal point for the growth of a regional health-care
and life-sciences industry.
Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. is selling the property
to help fund a $500 million plan to revitalize the East Side of
Buffalo, including the Fruit Belt neighborhood, which borders the
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. A first phase of this plan is
construction of new multifamily townhouses for low-to-moderate
income families. The goal is to improve the quality of life on the
East Side and improve access to jobs and business opportunities for
Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. approached UB in 2009 to
ask about the university’s interest in acquiring the land,
and a contract to sell was agreed upon in 2010. The university
plans to use the property for educational purposes, consistent with
its master plan, which calls for the relocation of UB’s
health-related programs to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
A major emphasis of UB’s plan is ensuring that the
university’s growth is beneficial to the communities that
border its three campuses, including the downtown campus.
UB does not intend to use this land to construct a massive parking garage, nor will it move students into the existing apartment buildings. Those buildings will be demolished by Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. after all residents are successfully relocated, according to a plan to be developed by St. John Fruit Belt Community Development Corp. and approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The McCarley property will not be used in the construction of
UB’s medical school. The medical school’s
relocation is focused on parcels on Main and High streets.
The McCarley property is important to UB because of its
proximity to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, downtown
health-care facilities and other life-sciences partners in downtown
Working with the City of Buffalo and partner institutions within
the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, UB’s expansion in
downtown Buffalo is intended to improve quality of life and access
to jobs for residents and communities that border the Buffalo
Niagara Medical Campus, while helping to create a world-class
health-care system that will benefit all Western New York
The University at Buffalo Foundation, on behalf of the
university, has a contract to purchase the land once its current
owner, Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp., has completed its
due diligence by providing new housing options for the current
residents, a process that will need to be approved by HUD.
Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. will contract with St.
John Fruit Belt Community Development Corp. to raze the existing
35-year-old buildings on the site and turn over a
“shovel-ready” parcel to the university. This transfer
of land will not take place before 2017, at the earliest.
The university and the Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp.
have negotiated several conditions for this sale, including:
In keeping with its mission, the University at Buffalo Foundation is assisting and supporting the university in its purchase of the property.
The mission of the University at Buffalo Foundation is to
support and promote the activities and programs of the University
at Buffalo. This is accomplished by providing advice and counsel
regarding philanthropy and fund raising, managing gifts and grants
on behalf of the university, providing a wide range of financial
services for the various units of the university, developing and
managing real property on behalf of the university, and providing a
strong base of private-sector support for the university through
the foundation's trustees and directors.
Before the sale of McCarley Gardens can be completed,
Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. must finalize a HUD-approved
plan to relocate the residents of McCarley Gardens into housing
that is equal to, or better than, their current housing. The
relocation plan will recognize the fact that McCarley residents
have long, close relationships with one another and have a strong
network of social support. The social component will factor
into new housing options that will allow residents to continue to
live near each other and support each other.
As a member of the community, the university knows there are
very high community expectations for the outcome of UB’s
growing presence downtown. The university is committed to
working with all East Side residents to implement its plans and
ensure UB’s presence downtown benefits the entire
Over the past two years, UB and St. John Fruit Belt
Community Development Corp. have held many community meetings with
McCarley Gardens residents, East Side community members and the
government leaders that serve them. The conversations and
joint planning sessions have been ongoing since the contract to
sell McCarley Gardens was announced in 2010.
From these conversations and outreach, an Economic Opportunity
Panel (EOP) - made up of representatives from UB and Oak-Michigan
Housing Development Corp. - will develop a set of recommendations
for how UB and the corporation could work together to provide
residents with better access to jobs and business and educational
opportunities created from UB’s growing presence on the
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The Economic Opportunity Panel (EOP), created as a contingency
of the McCarley Gardens sale, has been meeting regularly to develop
recommendations for creating and improving job and educational
opportunities for residents of neighborhoods bordering the Buffalo
Niagara Medical Campus. The EOP was formed as a means for the
church and UB to engage community members, listen to ideas and
concerns, and from this information develop a set of
recommendations that may be acted upon by UB and the
church. The panel has spent more than a year listening to a
wide range of community members in a variety of settings.
It is important to note that the EOP was not intended to be a
community group. It is a working group of UB and SJBC
representatives, charged by the university and church to meet with
and gather input from community members, conduct research on the
economic needs of the community, and then report back their
findings and recommendations to the university and
The EOP first began meeting with members of the community in
December 2011. One of the first activities of the panel was a
meeting and walking tour of the Fruit Belt guided by
residents. During the course of its outreach, the EOP has
held several meetings and has met with nearly 100 community members
and community leaders. This group included Fruit Belt
residents and McCarley Gardens Tenant Council leaders, major
workforce-development officials and providers, human resources
administrators and procurement managers from all BNMC institutions,
community leaders and representatives from local developers who
have construction jobs on the BNMC.
The university and church very much appreciate the work of the
panel and value the many ideas and insights shared by community
members during this process. After the EOP concludes its
work, discussions and conversations will continue between UB, SJBC
and members of the community who have an interest in improving
quality of life and economic opportunities for Fruit Belt and
The Economic Opportunity Panel is finalizing a report that will
offer recommendations on how UB and St. John Baptist Church can
help assure that UB’s expansion downtown and the
church’s development plans in the Fruit Belt will create
opportunities for residents of McCarley Gardens and the Fruit Belt.
The report will be a beginning point for additional discussions
with the community as the next step in the process. The
report’s recommendations are expected to address:
Conversations with the community will continue after the report
is finished. An Opportunities Advisory Council comprised of
representatives from the university and external constituencies
will work to implement the EOP’s recommendations.
UB has already made progress in expanding opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. For example, $100 million in construction-related contracts have been awarded to minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) over the past four years, and the university has set aggressive goals for MWBE participation in projects on its Downtown, North and South campuses. And the university has begun to streamline its vendor/procurement and job-application processes to make it more accessible to the community.
Recently, business owners, residents, parishioners and Fruit
Belt property owners learned how to become more effective leaders
in the community through the Active Conscious Communities Training
(AC²T) program provided by UB, the BNMC, Roswell Park Cancer
Institute and Kaleida Health. From this training emerged a
Fruit Belt community advocacy group called the Orchard Community
Initiative (OCI), which is committed to improving the quality of
life in the Fruit Belt. OCI was awarded a $7,500 grant to use
toward initiatives that benefit the Fruit Belt. The group’s
first effort involves hosting a signature event in the neighborhood
to help bring together what can sometimes be a fragmented
community. Additionally, some of the graduates also will receive
scholarships to attend a Leadership Buffalo program in 2014.
UB’s new Economic Opportunity Center (EOC) will open in
July and is located on the South end of the Buffalo Niagara Medical
Campus at 77 Goodell Street. Classes will begin in August and
will include an array of programs, including tuition-free academic
programs focused on training students for jobs in a number of
health care settings. For example, the medical lab technician
program will enable students to pursue jobs in labs, clinics,
doctor’s offices and blood banks. The dental assisting
program trains students to work in hospitals, private dental
offices and dental clinics.
Other opportunities include the electronic health records
program, which offers instruction on the latest technology and
regulations regarding health records and handling them securely;
and the medical billing and coding program, which trains students
to handle details of billing and insurance.
EOC also offers a course in conversational Spanish for
health-care professionals to enhance effective communication
between patients and health-care providers in the hospital,
doctor’s office or on the telephone.
Additionally, UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) has opened an office in the UB Downtown Gateway, located next door to the new Educational Opportunity Center. The CEL offers the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program. The program’s mission is to construct a pathway that enables minority and women entrepreneurs to move their companies to the next stage of development. The MWEE program is partially funded with a generous grant from the Allstate Foundation. The program is designed to help participants:
UB’s Office of Community Relations has opened a new office
in UB’s Downtown Gateway Building. Community Relations staff
coordinate many of the university’s community outreach
efforts. They can be contacted at:
UB Office of Community Relations
UB Gateway Building
77 Goodell St.
Buffalo, NY 14203
If you have additional questions, please contact:
Office of Community Relations
UB Gateway Building
77 Goodell St. #201
Buffalo, NY 14203