Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux has lived all over the country but came back to the East Side to make a difference.

Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux. I’m a mother of four. I live in the Genesee-Moselle community. I’ve lived in Buffalo since I was 13 years old. My father was in the Air Force, so by the time we moved to Buffalo, it was my fifth different state. I attended Buffalo Public Schools and Catholic School in Buffalo. Also, I later went to ECC and Daemen College for my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I’ve been a registered nurse since 2003. My primary field is intensive care, trauma, and critical care services. The bulk of my career has been in contract and travel nursing. So I have an extensive travel history between New York State and California, specifically the Bay Area and also the L.A. area at times. I’m also a very involved community advocate and community activist.

I got involved in the program in relation to the direct need in my community to, number one, redevelop that community, and number two, to also build an economy within that community, by people that come from our community, such as myself. I’ve been teamed up with Stephen Butler to work on the expansion of his restaurant, which will be a new mixed-use retail development space. So that’s where I am now and my role in the East Side development program, which I’ve learned a lot at this point. I think we have a bright future ahead of us seeing more minority developers specifically on the East side of Buffalo, developing and creating an economy at the neighborhood level.

How did you learn about the CBREDT program?

There was an article in the Buffalo News. I kind of just skimmed over it. I didn’t catch it. Another friend, Lisa Yeager, contacted me and she says, “Look at this.” I said “I’ve seen it. I just didn’t pay as much attention to it as I should have.” And she says, “You should read it.” And so I read it and I thought this is something that I would like to do that can help me and also help the community.

Could you tell us about your building/project/goals? What are you hoping to accomplish?

I am in the process of starting my own business. So I have a startup and it is a MedSpa. It’s an infusion. It’s an infusion spa. I have a collaborating physician and we will be located at 423 Elmwood Avenue. And I’m very excited that this business venture will hopefully expand to have at least three locations. We hope to open around September. We’ve got the space and we’re about to start moving our equipment and things like that in. 

Plus, there are several development projects that we’re working on. This actual project is a three-phase. So the first phase is a 3,100-square-foot mixed-use residential space that will have a restaurant. The restaurant space is around 6,000 square feet. The retail space is a little over 6,000 square feet. The residential space is around 19,000 square feet. In addition to adding a revenue generator. There will also be a banquet hall there that can host weddings, receptions, birthday parties, funerals, and so on and so forth. And those projected numbers actually look pretty good. And so Phase 2 and Phase 3 are affordable housing. One will be affordable senior housing and the other will be affordable town housing. This is located in the block of Genesee that is adjacent to Doat. Our first project will be at Montana and Genesee. The second is at about Colorado and Genesee — Phase 2, and across the street from Phase 1 will in the future be the townhomes. We have site control over the entire area to eventually build all of these developments out within the Genesee and Moselle community.

How will your project benefit the neighborhood/East Side community?

Well, number one, it’s going to provide jobs. Number two, is to provide recreation — somewhere for people to go — community gathering. We have no restaurant or sit-down restaurant in the community or neighborhood right now. So it will increase our togetherness — basically our unity as a community. Like I say, it increases housing values and also sparked larger development within the area. What we’ll basically be doing is setting what the rent will be going forward because it is a market-rate development. But at the same time, understanding that people have to make living-wage jobs. So we’re going to create jobs and we’re going to beautify the neighborhood. People are going to feel good about living in this Genesee-Moselle community and they’re going to want to come to live there and build there.

What I hope to accomplish specifically is to spark the redevelopment in the central-eastern part of the city of Buffalo, focusing on our business corridors that are, of course, always adjacent to our residential communities and neighborhoods and spaces.

So what I’m looking for is to set off an East Side renaissance where people see the people that they relate to, the people that live where they live as the actual developers and business developers within the community. I think that changes the attitudes of the community. If they see somebody like me being able to participate and do these things, it gives them the incentive and just the example of what we can all do if we participate. I truly believe by developing and redeveloping our community, that most of the jobs that people actually will work can actually be in the community. I’m just excited about that. 

How will what you learned from this class help you accomplish your development goals?

It’s networking and it’s providing an opportunity for me that I’ve never had in my lifetime. And I plan on taking these opportunities and offering opportunities to others. So the program has taught me networking and it’s taught me the rules of development. It’s taught me the difference between my perception of redlining and my perception of not being prepared and not understanding how to ask for funding and how to ask for money and how to have a plan and how to be prepared for that. I understand a lot more now than I have understood before. But I think that you’ll look back at this particular cohort in five or ten years from now and even be proud of yourselves for all of the time that everyone has put in lending their expertise to help change marginalized and impacted communities. The program is beneficial to our well-being at this point and definitely the economic future for all of Buffalo.

Those of us in the class are talking about getting together and everybody kind of pooling their projects. And we actually show the community, what with each project is what we get. You know, everybody wants to get their rendering and get everything together so we can actually show the community what we’re working on. The people within our community have to understand that you can be a developer with something very large and you could be a developer with something very small. And you know it. You know it all counts.

I think we have a bright future ahead of us seeing more minority developers specifically on the East Side of Buffalo, developing and creating an economy at the neighborhood level.

Would you recommend this program to others who hope to develop commercial property on the East Side? If so, why, and what would you say to them?

Definitely. I almost want to elbow a couple of people out of the way and do it again next year. They’re going to learn a lot and they should definitely take that chance. They should get involved. They will be surprised that it is a lot of hard work, but there is a lot of support and they’re going to meet people and make networks and be exposed to opportunities that they would probably not receive otherwise. So if somebody has the opportunity to be in this group, they should know that whatever their knowledge is or isn’t, people are there within this program to support them. Nobody talks down to anyone. I’ve never felt like I was stupid. If I didn’t know something, I never felt like I could not ask questions.

I think the people that are involved in this program are perfectly suited for this. They’re vested in it. It doesn’t seem like it’s work to them. They’re mentors and I think people need that at all phases of their life, whether you’re very young or whether you’re very old. This program has definitely provided that. It gives me a sense of self-esteem. Also, I’m humbled to be a person that was chosen for this program and anyone that receives an opportunity like this should feel the same way.

What are your immediate next steps?

My immediate next step in the project is to focus on the final funding phase of the project. We’re just trying to secure our funding to get our proforma to close the gaps. They closed the gaps in all the funding to make it go forward. So we could basically break ground on development and the build-out in March of 2023 because it’s probably too late for this year to start. And so we’re looking to wait until the weather starts to break in March of 2023 and to have this project complete by the end of the year.

What is your vision for the East Side?

My vision for the East Side is a thriving, affordable place to live, work, and play with prosperity and growth for everyone. I want the east side of Buffalo to be a “well community,” in health and in spirit; one where you feel proud to be in the community and in the neighborhood.