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No city loan to Morgan

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City Council rejected a proposal yesterday for a $1.5 million loan to developer Robert Morgan for a residential project at 103 Court Street at South Avenue. In a 5-to-3 vote, Councilmembers Loretta Scott, Jackie Ortiz, Matt Haag, Molly Clifford, and Carolee Conklin voted against the measure. Voting for it: Elaine Spaull, Dana Miller, and Adam McFadden. Councilmember Michael Patterson was not at the meeting.
Development on the corner of South Avenue and Court Street  will include 111 apartments overlooking the river. - RENDERING BY HANLON ARCHITECTS
  • RENDERING BY HANLON ARCHITECTS
  • Development on the corner of South Avenue and Court Street will include 111 apartments overlooking the river.

Mayor Lovely Warren recommended the loan. The $33.6 million project involves a five-story building with 111 apartments, commercial space, and underground parking. Five percent of the apartments would be available to households earning less than 120 percent of the median family income, and five percent would be available to households earning less than 80 percent of the median family income.

Even though the proposed loan represents a small portion of the total funding for the project, the proposal has been controversial. Some Councilmembers have been concerned about how much the project would help with the city's need for affordable housing.

There have also been concerns about a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the developer’s financing involving real estate projects in Buffalo.

“I think the loan still had a lot of unanswered questions,” Councilmember Carolee Conklin said in a phone interview earlier today. No explanation was given to Council about why the loan was requested so late in the planning, she said.

It’s unclear what this means for the project, Conklin said. Warren's office hasn't responded to queries about whether the proposal will be sent back to Council later.

Updated: Wednesday, November 15, at 3 p.m.
 City Council's vote against the loan doesn't stop the project from moving forward, says James Smith, Mayor Warren's spokesperson. Any member of Council can bring the proposal back before the end of the year or the mayor can visit the matter after January.  Including quality affordable housing in downtown development projects  is a very important issue to the mayor, and she needs to weigh her options concerning how she wants to proceed, Smith says.

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