St. John tower residents uneasy about new partnership

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Residents of Saint John Tower remain skeptical of a new partnership that has taken control of the downtown housing development.

A 30-million-dollar renovation is planned, but tenants are afraid the makeover will force them out.

A downstate investment group has taken control of the partnership that owns the nine-story tower, which provides government-subsidized housing for senior citizens and those with disabilities.

The tower was built by Saint John Baptist Church, and until this year, it was controlled by the church.

Last Monday, the newly reorganized partnership that now controls Saint John Tower has been meeting with residents to assure them the top-to-bottom renovation will not displace them.

The 150 apartments are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, under an agreement that is good until 2022.

Common Council President Darius Pridgen has been talking with HUD, and has started a dialogue with the new partnership, which is 90-percent controlled by a non-profit in Rockland County, House of David Preservation, Incorporated.

The management team has not been clear as to where the tenants will stay during the renovation and once it is done, if they will still have a home in the tower.

“Some of them sold their houses, some of them moved in expecting to be there until they passed on. So we are going to be watching and be very active in representing the tenants of St. John Tower,” Pridgen said.

Rev. Michael Chapman, pastor of Saint John Baptist Church, has said, Saint John Tower will continue to house the elderly and disabled for 55 years.

Councilman Pridgen told us that is the term of the lease, but if the partnership chooses not to renew, Pridgen says, they have to give at least a year’s notice.

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