............Buffalo Forge Company............................ Public Art - Table of Contents
The Forge / Rhonda A. Ricks Memorial Mural
490 Broadway, Buffalo, NY
Mural by Julia Bottoms
Buffalo Forge Company, 490 Broadway
Photo source: A History of the City of Buffalo, published by The Buffalo Evening News, 1908
Buffalo Forge Company, 490 Broadway - Demolished in 2006.
Photo © 2003 Stephen Corbett
Looking west on Broadway
Facade on Broadway ... Note entrance at right
Name celebrates the former site occupant: Buffalo Forge Company
1, 2020 photos
Looking east on Broadway ... Building in background is part of The Forge complex
"Along with the street dedication, the developers also unveiled a new mural along one entire exterior wall, also in Ricks' honor. Designed by local artist Julia Bottoms, the mural features industrial gears interspersed with bright long-stemmed roses on a light-blue background, incorporating the site's industrial history while celebrating Ricks' favorite flower and color." - Jonathan D. Epstein, The Buffalo News, August 30, 2020 ... Detail below:
Mural, Street Sign Honor Legacy of East Side Civic Leader Rhonda Ricks
By Jonathan D. Epstein
The Buffalo News, August 30, 2020
A file photo of the late Rhonda Ricks in the Parkview Apartments on Best Street in Buffalo.
By Mark Mulville/Buffalo News
Rhonda A. Ricks was dedicated to the East Side community where she grew up.
On Sunday, a small street in that community was dedicated to her.
City, state and local civic leaders gathered in socially distant fashion to name a small portion of Mortimer Street for her, honoring the longtime advocate-turned-developer who fought for quality affordable housing in Buffalo.
"We remember a woman that loved our city, believed in our people, and was one of the first private developers to invest in a substantial way on Buffalo’s East Side," said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, who unveiled new street signs. "Rhonda operated from a place of purpose and integrity, and believed strongly that all residents deserve the opportunity to live in safe, upscale and affordable housing."
Ricks died of cancer just over a year ago, in June 2019, after a multi-year battle. She was 56. Her birthday was Sunday.
The new Dr. Rhonda Ricks Way stretches from Broadway to Sycamore streets in Buffalo, along one side of The Forge on Broadway, a sprawling new affordable housing complex that she conceived and championed.
Located on a former industrial site at 490 Broadway [Buffalo Forge Company], the $50 million two-building project contains 158 units of mixed-income housing, with amenities like a green roof and patio area, a playground, an indoor gym, a running track, as well as higher-end finishes in each apartment.
It was started in 2018 by Ricks' company in partnership with development firms SAA-EVI and SCG Development, which recently finished the state-funded project, and started taking their first new tenants into the complex.
Ricks' company is still a co-owner of The Forge, for the benefit of her two sons – one in Maryland and one in the U.S. Navy. Her R+A+R Development also built the Parkview Apartments at 769 Best St.
Ricks, a Buffalo native who earned a bachelor's degree in telecommunications and later a master's degree in education administration and a doctorate in higher education administration, focused her career on working with and helping the community through a diverse set of roles. She had served as treasurer of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and vice president of the Buffalo Niagara Freedom Coalition. She was later appointed to serve on the Buffalo Preservation Board.
She started her professional career in community outreach for construction giant LPCiminelli, and then worked as a compliance monitor on the city's $1 billion Buffalo Joint Schools Construction Project, which was undertaken by LPCiminelli. It was during that multi-year role that she saw the impact of the city's population loss, with a number of former school buildings left abandoned and neglected, even as the need for affordable housing grew.
"Just because you are at a certain income level does not mean you do not deserve quality housing," Ricks had previously said. "I would like to change the way my community looks like by providing affordable, safe and quality housing."
That led her to target P.S. 59, teaming up with SAA-EVI to convert the school into Parkview. The $8 million project opened in July 2017, with 26 apartments.
By then, she had already identified the former Buffalo Forge Manufacturing Co. site as another target, again partnering with SAA-EVI. Crews broke ground on the project in November 2018.
Along with the street dedication, the developers also unveiled a new mural along one entire exterior wall, also in Ricks' honor. Designed by local artist Julia Bottoms, the mural features industrial gears interspersed with bright long-stemmed roses on a light-blue background, incorporating the site's industrial history while celebrating Ricks' favorite flower and color.