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They are proposing an ambitious project to remake Silo City into a new community that combines artists’ studios and gallery space with residential apartments and retailers.
And they’re taking an unusual approach.
Wilmoth and Ceroy are the founders and managing principals of Generation Development Group, a real estate firm based in Miami, Fla., that focuses on projects with “community-driven impact.” That means not just considering a need for housing, but also looking at health and wellness, education and recreation, workforce and training and environmental sustainability.
“Housing is only one piece of the solution when you’re talking about community development,” Wilmoth said, citing the importance of “engaging the community in everything we do.”
As a result, their projects take a broader look at community benefits. And rather than decide from the start what a project will look like, the duo prefers to let it evolve with local desires.
“We are huge believers in letting communities grow organically,” Ceroy said. “We want our development initiatives to be not only embraced by but led by the community which we’re going to be serving.”
Remaking Silo City
That’s what they’re trying to do in Buffalo.
Working with Silo City owner Rick Smith, CEO of nearby Rigidized Metals Corp., their initial plans call for a $30 million to $40 million first phase that would include 150 apartments, with a mixture of market-rate, workforce housing and artists’ live-work lofts. Additional phases of development could push the full cost of the multiyear project much higher – well over $100 million – with over 400 units in all, the pair said.
The residential development is a core element of the project and supports a range of other uses at the site. The final project may also feature some combination of community, educational, gallery retail and even “maker” or incubator space, in proportions that have yet to be determined.
Regardless, the redevelopment would radically transform that longtime industrial area into a new “creative” neighborhood. That also would fulfill a longtime dream of Smith’s to reuse the silos and other structures that make up the peninsula that juts into the Buffalo River.
“Rick Smith has done just an amazing job of creating a culture and identity at Silo City,” Ceroy said. “Rick has created a place for folks to come and really be creative. In our experience, that very easily or seamlessly lends itself to not just providing a community where those folks can thrive … but also providing educational opportunities for folks.”
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