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McCarley Gardens

Frequently Asked Questions

Published April 10, 2013

What is the Burnie C. McCarley Gardens?

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.

Why is Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. selling McCarley Gardens?

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 community members.

Why is UB purchasing the property?

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 area.

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).

How is the purchase of McCarley Gardens related to UB’s plans to construct a new medical school on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus?

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 Buffalo.   

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 residents.

What are the conditions of the sale of McCarley Gardens? When will the sale be finalized?

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:

  • Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. must develop a plan to relocate the residents of McCarley Gardens into housing that is equal to, or better than, their current housing.  This plan must be approved by HUD.  St. John Baptist Church and Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. have facilitated numerous meetings with tenants of  McCarley Gardens since this process started in 2010 and will continue to do so. 
  • Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. and UB have established a six-member joint Economic Opportunity Panel (EOP) that is meeting regularly to assess economic opportunities for McCarley Gardens, Fruit Belt and East Side residents.  The EOP has offered several opportunities for public input through dozens of individual and group interviews and meetings where residents and neighbors have been encouraged to voice their concerns.
  • Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. and UB have asked this panel to develop recommendations for how the university and the church corporate affiliate could best provide additional jobs and educational and business opportunities for Fruit Belt and East Side residents. 
  • UB is supporting and encouraging the participation of minorities, women and persons with disabilities in both construction and vendor opportunities that occur as the university relocates its medical school to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and UB continues to expand in downtown Buffalo over the next several years.

What is the role of the University at Buffalo Foundation in the purchase of the McCarley Gardens?

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.

What housing relocation opportunities will Oak-Michigan Housing Development Corp. offer to McCarley Gardens residents?

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.

What is UB doing to reach out to and engage with McCarley Gardens residents and community members within Buffalo’s East Side?

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 community.

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.

What is the role of the Economic Opportunity Panel in assessing the needs of the Fruit Belt Community?

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 church. 

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 McCarley residents.  

What specific steps are being taken to ensure that people who reside in neighborhoods around the medical campus benefit from this expansion?

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:

  • Access to jobs created by UB’s growing presence on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • The availability of construction jobs for minority and underrepresented groups
  • The availability of opportunities for minority and women vendors
  • Job training programs for community residents

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.

What progress has been made to date to improve opportunities for community members and address their concerns?

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.

What job training opportunities are currently available to residents of the Fruit Belt and McCarley Gardens?

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:

  • Forge relationships with successful business owners
  • Learn more about the varied aspects of running a small business
  • Formulate clear objectives and outcomes to guide the development of their business plan
  • Devise realistic business goals and timetables and develop strategies for achieving them
  • Learn about and connect with existing organizations and resources, public and private, that can assist with the development of their business

Who can I contact if I have additional questions about UB’s expansion in downtown Buffalo?

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
Suite 201
77 Goodell St.
Buffalo, NY 14203
716-829-3099
SMBSproject@buffalo.edu