Buffalo, New York - Standing in front of The Forge on Broadway, Mayor Byron W. Brown, joined by Common Council President Darius Pridgen, New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and others, announced two special street designations in honor of Dr. Rhonda Ricks. The late Dr. Ricks, President and CEO of R+A+R Development, passed away in June of 2019 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Today, Mayor Brown announced that a ceremonial trailblazing sign will go up next month at the corner of Broadway and Mortimer Street in honor of Dr. Ricks, serving as a gateway to one of her signature projects, the Forge on Broadway.
Mayor Brown stated, “Dr. Rhonda Ricks was a true trailblazer in our region and it’s only fitting to honor her memory in this way. She was one of the first private developers to reinvest in Buffalo’s East Side. She shaped her vibrant career around increasing the visibility of women and minority owned businesses, especially in construction, building, and real estate development. She operated from a place of purpose and integrity to build a more equitable and inclusive community and believed that all residents deserved the opportunity to live in healthy, safe, and affordable housing.”
Work on The Forge on Broadway began in late 2018. Dr. Ricks had long seen the potential in the sprawling site of the former Buffalo Forge Company. She grew up three blocks away, and knew it would be a dream come true to create safe, affordable places in a neighborhood where she once lived. Together with Stuart Alexander & Associates, Dr. Ricks created a mixed-use development plan that has since transformed a vacant eyesore into a vibrant, residential community focused on wellness and active urban living.
Mayor Brown also announced today that a private stretch of new roadway that cuts through The Forge on Broadway will be named Dr. Rhonda Ricks Way.
“If you looked back 10-15 years ago, no one would have dreamed of the advancements and developments on the East Side of Buffalo. Dr. Rhonda Ricks was one of those dreamers that could see the possibilities and endlessly worked until she accomplished those dreams,” said Council President Darius Pridgen. “Dr. Ricks deserves the naming of this new street, located in the middle of her dream project, as a lasting memorial to her hard work and dedication to this project, and to the City of Buffalo. We should all continue to work to accomplish our dreams, like Dr. Rhonda Ricks.”
“Its bittersweet renaming a street after my sister friend Dr. Rhonda Ricks, gone too soon but we cherish her memory. We call them Trailblazer Signs and it could not be more fitting, as she blazed a trail as the first woman and minority developer in the City of Buffalo and its East Side. She believed that everyone deserves to live in clean, upscale quality housing and her projects reflect that. I’m humbled and proud that a street is named in her honor, adjacent to one of her developments and close to where she grew up,” stated Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.
As an African American and a woman, Dr. Ricks was steadfast in the face of the odds against her. After earning a Ph.D. in education she decided to leave her corporate career and enter the arena of real estate development. Her first project, completed in 2017, was a tribute to her status as the first minority and women owned development firm in the region. Parkview Apartments was a reuse project on Buffalo’s East Side. Rhonda converted that vacant public school building into 26 units of affordable housing overlooking Buffalo’s historic Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. Dr. Ricks also consulted on the construction of the Westminster Commons senior housing project at Adams and Monroe streets. She also worked on a redevelopment plan for the Fillmore Masjid Nu’Man on Fillmore Avenue and Box Street, and a proposal to redevelop former School 44. Dr. Ricks also founded Inclusion Development Associates, which monitored large scale public projects City wide to ensure they hired minority- owned firms and women.