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Dulski Project Underway

Redevelopment of the Dulski Building on Delaware Avenue is getting a lift from New York State. Overshadowed by the unveiling of a new concept plan for Bass Pro and Canalside, Governor Eliot Spitzer also announced this week an incentive package to assist the $63 million conversion of the 1970-era clunker into a mix of office, hotel and residential space. The ‘200 Delaware Avenue’ project is being undertaken by UniQuest, a joint venture consisting of Uniland Development Company and Acquest Development.
Conversion of the Dulski Building, revitalization of Buffalo’s inner and outer harbors, building the Peace Bridge, and improvements to Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls are local priority projects receiving State funding under the Governor’s ‘City-by-City’ economic development plan. The Governor’s approach will create a targeted and comprehensive economic development strategy for each region as well as a set of priority projects based on its unique assets, competitive advantages and stakeholders’ input.

200 Delaware will be assisted by a $7 million grant and a package of loans and tax credits. Private sector investment totals $56.6 million, including up to $14.6M in loans from Empire State Development’s Job Development Authority and Economic Development Fund.
“It is encouraging to see this Governor focus not only on New York City, but New York’s cities. There is tremendous potential and opportunity in the urban core of this community. This building will stand as a symbol of the rewards possible when public and private sectors share risk and responsibility,” says Carl J. Montante, Uniland President and Managing Director.
Plans for the 15-story structure include 37 condominium units, a 150-room luxury hotel, and over 128,000 square feet of class office space. Asbestos abatement work currently underway is expected to be complete by next March. According to Uniland, the building’s concrete façade will start to come off next spring and its new glass façade should be in place by May. An early 2009 opening is anticipated.
The building’s planned façade has been slightly changed from earlier plans. It will now feature a two-tone blue glass façade, a two-story atrium/lobby, balconies on the residential floors, and a small addition along Huron Street.
According to Uniland spokesperson Judy Griggs, “interest in offices is high” and the developer expects to announce what flag the hotel will operate under in “early November.”
Pricing for the condominiums on the top three floors has not been set. “We can’t solicit possible purchasers in anyway, shape or form until we’re finished with the Attorney General process,” says Griggs. “However, we can take email addresses from those who would like to receive project updates on the residential part of the building.” Email Judy to get on the update list.
Lower Delaware Avenue is seeing a significant amount of development including the recently completed New Era headquarters, renovations at the Statler, and the new Federal courthouse on Niagara Square. Can you feel the momentum building?
Rendering and images taken from the building’s 15th floor courtesy of Uniland Development.

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  1. Pretty tacky looking but they are starting with a bad building to begin with. Will the two story atrium go out to Delaware Avenue? The building is really missing an urban connection to Delaware. Its current suburban set back (a la the awful Niagara Center building on South Elmwood pictured above) hurts the urban street wall a lot. Would be nice to help fix that problem with a two story glass addition upfront.

  2. I have to agree that I dont like the setbacks either and a 2-3 story addition built to the sidewalk would have been an immense improvement. Its unfortunate that so many architects do not understand the difference between an urban environment and a suburban environment.

  3. It would be nice to see one project in Buffalo get mostly praise, rather than the seemingly incessant nitpicking about every single project. The world is not perfect and neither are most projects. I applaud Acquest for taking a $42 million risk and for investing in downtown! Awesome!! Who’s next?

  4. it may be nitpicking to you but some comments actually have merit and add value…..
    personally I didnt think the exterior facade of the Dulski was in need of an update….I thought it had a very good design facade reflective for its period and it was rather attractive… was the first few floors that were setback from the sidewalk that were the main impediments…..and of course if the entire tower was built to the sidewalk then it would have had the large footprints demanded in downtown and urban office buildings.
    building the first few floors to the sidewalk wouldnt have been that expensive and it would easily have paid for itself with 1st and 2nd floor retail while providing a great interior open lobby. Good ideas but to late to incorporate them…..your right…on to the next urban renovation.

  5. “Clunky 1970s building?” Puh-leeeze. Had BRO been around then, you’d all be gushing at fever pitch about its height and “clean, striking, visionary, dramatic” yada yada yada appearance, not to mention your worship of any money spent anywhere, anytime, for any reason.
    Fans of the forthcoming Federal Courthouse, take note. GIve it a decade or two. Your tedious glass cylinder is also a clunker-to-be.

  6. oh yeah and your right chris 69 they would have paid for the build out with first and 2nd floor retail. Are you kidding me? First floor retail has worked so well at the granite works. Oh, and first floor retail is a great success on main street too. Hows first floor retail at 285 Delaware? Vacant you say? People here need to understand that first floor retail doesn’t work right now. More people living downtown will allow for this one day.

  7. What is tacky about this building? I have never lived anywhere that has so much complaining and poo-pooing about every single project that goes on. So what if it sits back from the street. As to retail, try filling all the empty retail locations up that are still available. After 30 idle [and declining] years and decades of bad planning Buffalo has what…nearly a billion dollars of construction planned in condo’s, apartments, hotels, office space, museum’s and retail in the next 3 years [could be more if some projects were not killed by nay-sayers] and yet you people complain. How sad that you can not find excitment in these projects.

  8. It is true that it does not work right now. But why not build to the future? Why not build something that will enhance the development of a street scape that will be inviting to pedestrians? If you ask me designing it not to be pedestrian friendly will only make it all a self fulfilling prophecy thus alowing them to say “see we were right”. It might as well be a surface lot for the interaction it has with the sidewalk. Its look pretty from the 190 but then what?
    These are large investments in our DT where we are trying to make density and to create something that will hopefully create some inertial growth. Yes this first floor retail will be empty at first. But we creating building blocks for the future. I am not even that set against other business uses for these first floor locations. They will add to the number of people that will justify the retail pushing them out to somewhere else. Building for the here and now will only ensure we are stuck in the here and now for a longer period of time.
    Bring this bitch out to Delaware and do it right. They did it with the New Era building and it makes a huge difference.

  9. Not too long ago there was a very boring proposal for a generic inner harbor design. It completely obliterated any reference to the Erie Canal Terminus.
    What did the so called “complaining” get us. It got us a much better project, one that everyone seems to love.
    Constructive criticism makes a difference, and thankfully, it happens everywhere.
    Check our today’s article in the Times regarding the new bridge proposed for Minneapolis. Not everyone is happy.

  10. Did Spot Coffee on Elmwood just close?
    If so, I may have to reiterate that elmwood is not doing well?
    What have we lost in the past month? MANAHATTAN BAGEL, NEW WORLD RECORD, SPOT COFFEE,

  11. Um, I haven’t been down there this morning, but I’m pretty sure Spot didn’t close. Elmwood lost probably the worst kept bagel store in New York State (there is a reason Manhattan Bagel revoked their franchise name) and a CD store. I loved new world, but how many CDs do people purchase anymore? That had NOTHING to do with Elmwood and everything to do with the state of the record industry.
    And what does this have anything to do with in this discussion???

  12. first how did this suddenly devolve into a rant about elmwood?
    Why waste the space and time now. New Era isn’t successful because its built out somewhat to the street, its successful because its a major retailer dt. The granite works have been vacant since it opened. There is a difference in first floor retail. If we are putting a strip downtown of H&M’s, urban outfitters, the Gap, United Colors of Benetton and the like then first floor retail works. You would get more volume with these stores than a bunch of independent small businesses. Don’t get me wrong, elmwood is great, but we need major retailers. Could you imagine Main Street with traffic hosting a strip of shopping with all big brand names? How about Genessee St.’s new buildings having these. That’s where first floor retail works, not in isolation.

  13. It doesnt have anything to do with this discussion, but there is no comment section, I wish there was a comment section, or Q & A? I was given bad info. and got my coffe this morning. But a Q & A section would be nice

  14. Givve me urban, chris 69…. theres nothing infront of the building right now… if they wantedd to an addition to the street with your extremly poplular curbside retail could be added no problem… matter a fact I’d assume they’ve already got it designed to the curb, they just don’t want to do it right now because vacant store fronts in a high end office/hotel/residence building look horrible..
    Do you know anything about marketing or how to sell? Retail isn’t working downtown right now.. it will be eventually, but not now. You can’t have vacant retail space in a first class hotel.. end of story.

  15. This is a bit of a chicken and egg thing. What comes first: the nice streetscape or the retail?
    You could argue that Hertel and Elmwood, Allen, etc have successful retail because there is an existing streetscape that attracts shoppers. People want to walk around and shop in these areas, dense, vital and urban.
    This doens’t happen when buildings are set back from the sidewalk.
    This is now a heavily subsidized PUBLIC project. Doesn’t it make sense that the public get a tangible benefit? Build to the street now, create an attractive streetscape, and (eventually) retail will come.
    If we don’t do it now, it won’t get done later.
    PS Let’s get a bigger photo. Maybe we’re all wrong.

  16. This project is moving forward much faster than I anticipated. I remember when it was announced there was skepticism by the developers as to when the project would start because of unknown interest levels. The fact that it is underway now and that we will have a “new” glass tower downtown by next May is stunning in my eyes. Progress is snowballing my friends!

  17. This tower looks like the new police head quaters –
    wouldn’t it make more sense to use 65 million to construct a new high rise instead of rehabing this pile of shit. This building should really be demolished and replaced.
    Must be more public financing than we know about

  18. well they could install a green roof over the new sections, saving the views from being horrible, it could even be a nice place for hotel and condo patrons to mix, mingle and relax. Who doesn’t like gardens. Look at the green roof that the Chicago city hall has installed. Gorgeous, and it actually saves money for the government because green roofs are more insulative, and keep the surrounding air cooler, saving air conditioning costs, You can also add in the fact that less water goes into the sewer systems and needs to be processed. Saving more money. It has also raised property values for surrounding buildings as owners charge a premium for having views of the garden from office windows.
    So we can build out to Delaware, add value to the city and project over all and I have few doubts that with quality space in this area, tenants wouldn’t be hard to come by. The key here is quality space. Granite Works I heard has had offers but the owner is waiting for something specific, and probably out of the rang for the density in the area (since across the street are two large parking lots. Plus he isn’t in any rush since the rents pay for the project.
    Look at the Hampton for inspiration, they put in many spaces for retail / restaurants and it took some time but it is almost completely filled. That is a much smaller building and was concerned with noises from the establishments into the hotel. These could be totally sound proofed from the hotel and condos, since they are essentially new structures. I see little to no valid reasons why this wouldn’t be possible.

  19. i love the new building design, glad they “recycled” the old and very happy there is yet one more real project moving forward in downtown. i refuse to say a single unpositive thing about it! it’s all goooooood.

  20. Save the skeleton of what’s already f’in ugly (but at least boring) for this?!!
    The re-do is nightmarish. I expect this thing should start walking and stomping out everything in its path.

  21. sbof,
    While the green roof solved one of the issues it does nothing for the main challenge. Doing the build out cost unnecessary money to the developer. While it is something you and others really want, it is not your millions on the line. Building out the Delaware will not really add any value to this project.
    What I don’t get is how people get upset over a development because it does not have one feature yet there are countless parking lot owners that never get called out. Why is that? Why are parking lot owners never mentioned by name here on BRO for their lack of “street scape vision” but developers who are doing something are?
    Why do people in Buffalo always want to shit on progress because it is not perfect but do and say nothing to those who stand still.

  22. I don’t see it as shitting on anything. We should have minimal say in the Statler where, last I knew, no public handouts were asked for or even given. Here there is a public investment. Should we not demand the most out or our money?
    One block from Chippewa and New Era flagship on the other side and we can’t envision a working street scape? We can’t envision linking New Era to Chippewa? Drawing pedestrians south. May then the parking lots across the street will become more valuable and see investment.
    My last trip to Toronto last month I stayed at the new Marriott that was built up to the street and my room was dead silent. Use sound proofing not dead space to the street. 50 ft of air does not deaden sound all that well. Besides the hotel portion would still be set back in the tower.
    But ok….we are dead set against retail there. We can see how the Hampton in has failed a block away becasue it is up against the street and has retail on the first floor. So I guess I can understand why 😉

  23. MJ,
    To answer your question. No. If the residents are going to badger every developer who gets a penny, the developers are going to pass on the project. Why do you think so little development is done in Buffalo? Why do you almost zero outside interest consider Buffalo for projects? People are a pain in the ass, plain and simple.
    Government money does not make a project profitable. If it would, we would see a lot more development and a lot more entering into this field. Government funds make THE RISK a little bit of an easier pill to swallow. Giving public funds does not give the public control of the project in my opinion.
    Like I said before, I think people have their priorities off. There is over 1000 sq feet of parking lot that is curb side n the 3 blocks of Delaware this building is near. Instead of fighting or complaining or critiquing a building that is getting a multi-million dollar overhaul that sits 60 feet from the street. Might I suggest putting the same effort on getting ANYTHING built to the street on the 1000 feet of Delaware that is parking lot.
    Have you ever thought that the reason why the developer is not extended to the curb is because almost NOTHING ELSE on the block this building sits on or the one north and south have anything to the curb? Why should a developer who is making a major risk with millions be the first to build to the curb, when parking lot owners, who do the most damage to the walking city we ALL want, get no pressure at all?

  24. I’ve always liked this building, in spite of its un-urban qualities. It’s setback from the street is partially a result of security concerns (which is why its replacement building is set back as well). The concrete panels have aged well – but the small window sizes make it hard for use in high-priced condos and hotels – people want views. I just hope the glass skin isn’t as cheap looking as in the renderings.

  25. When the parking lots get developed, we will ask that they build to the street.
    In the mean time, this is a project that is happening now. And now is the time to build it right. That’s why we are focused on it and not parking lots.
    Also, that tired argument that developers won’t come here because we are too fussy is nonsense.
    It’s absolutely false, as evidenced by all of the development in other cities that have much more stringent requirements (think NYC, Boston, Portland, Seattle, etc).

  26. Why can’t they just lose the heavy tint on the glass. I hope there is a little more transparency and lightness to the building then the rendering implies.
    Who is the architect?

  27. Why would anyone care if this freakish monstrosity were “built to the street”? That it will be built at all ought to be enough. Any more of this flagrantly bad architecture, at the ground level or otherwise, would just be more than my delicate digestive tract could take!

  28. The working plans for the building call for a restaurant with a large patio that opens to Delaware. The idea has always been to use that space to extend the Chippewa district down Delaware. Discussions with possible restauranteurs are already in progress. The renderings are still being refined, there is plenty of time – there are months of interior work left to be done. But an aggressive schedule is in place and work is ongoing seven days a week at the site.
    UniQuest is seeking LEED certification on the project – a big step away from the current condition. The architects are Stieglitz Snyder.
    Thank you to the astute comment on 285 Delaware just up the street. It was built by Uniland as a spec project, but office space for floors 2-3-4-5 was committed before it was complete. There is beautiful to-the-street potential on the open 1st floor – but no leases signed yet. This is a private money only project.
    State assistance with 200 Delaware is much appreciated for the remediation efforts, but the majority of the investment is still that of the partners.
    If I sound like a cheerleader, I am.
    I grew up in Buffalo and worked in the South for 20 years. I worked at an executive level for a real estate company in Houston and for a major developer in Georgia. Working for Uniland is different in the best way. Risks in this marketplace are considerably higher. This company is homegrown and employees more than 100 people just within the corporate staff. Ask around and you are bound to run into dozens of local businesses that have been built and grown as Uniland subcontractors.
    The amount of money Uniland invests in the community – through charitable giving and city investment – is impressive. I am NOT a Pollyanna by any means, but I have been around enough to know I am fortunate to work in a good place with good people.
    In short, these guys deliver.
    Criticism and discussion is great, this forum is a great tool for people who care about the city. Just consider please that project decisions are not made in a vacuum.
    And if anyone has any leads for 285 Delaware first floor tenants – send them my way!!

  29. I am sorry Hamp but your perspective on this problem IS the problem with development in Buffalo.
    IF this development were built to the curb, there is no evidence that it would make the project more profitable. There is no evidence that the developer would even recoup the funds spent on building it out. Developers LIKE TO MAKE MONEY. It is what gives them the funds to do more development.
    But lets say that someone from the developer read this MB and said lets do what some people want. THIS WOULD NOT MAKE FOR AN URBAN BLOCK. As I pointed out before, there is parking lots all around this building. Going by the way Buffalo goes, it is possible that these remain parking lots for another 25 years. With this being the case, bringing this building out would have little to no effect on making this section “urban” IMO.
    Now if there was a plan in place for the parking lots to be built out. Either to parking ramps with 1st floor retail or to mid-level rises with parking below street level, you would have something. The developer would actually consider building to the street because it would be beneficial.
    But sadly people in Buffalo only get upset about what is presented to them. The historic nature of the waterfront only became a concern when there is press and money in play. The urban nature of Delaware only becomes a concern when there is a development in hand.
    This section of Delaware used to be very urban with lots of street fronting buildings but they were torn down and turned to parking lots. Yet no fouls were called on these parking lot owners.
    You can be tired of the argument that developers won’t come here because we are too fussy is nonsense. Does not make it any less true. The areas that you listed, NYC, Boston, Portland, Seattle, HAVE MUCH BETTER ECONOMIES then Buffalo. These areas are growing where Buffalo is not. Buffalo is redeveloping but not growing. These areas do not have the same fiscal problems that Buffalo does. At the end of the day it is fine to be proud of Buffalo but please do not try and compare it to Boston, Portland and Seattle. There are countless items that separate these areas from Buffalo. You may not want to see it but the developers sure as hell do.
    Do you not think developers are not watching the Bass Pro situation? Do you not think they are watching to see how Bashar Issa is treated. Do you not think they did not hear about how the Webb went? If so, can I please have some of what your smoking. I have a lot of things I would like to overlook myself.

  30. Give me a break Ron R. So have no aspirations? Never ask for better? Always assume buffalo will be a gap toothed parking lot mecca? I think everyone has a grip on Buffalo’s predicament but not every is so pessamistic as you. and no developer is fearing the public opinions expressed in a blog.

  31. I am not saying have no aspirations. I am simply asking people to be realistic.
    First off, people read this blog and other forums. People who post here are in some cases leaders in WNY. There is “power” in these posts. It would be silly to think that a developer does not listen to a couple of people on a blog. All it takes is a couple of people and a lawyer to stop a development or stall a development in Buffalo. Just look at some of the past and current projects.
    Positive things can also come from this blog and message boards. Remember the Gates Circle tower. Remember the 2000+ signatures collected on this blog in favor of the project? If you do not think this was used in getting a green light…well I just don’t know what to say.
    Secondly, all I am saying is look at what you are asking a developer to do. Add unnecessary cost to a project in an attempt to create a “walking city” but fail to see that the biggest challenge is the parking lots. Until a plan is in place to change the way Buffalo treats parking lots and their owners, it is unfair for anyone to demand changes from developers. Go after those who are doing nothing rather then go after those who are doing something.
    I have said it before and will say it again. Parking lots in the city are taxed on what building structure exists. Since there is no building, the tax is very low. Owning a parking lot is the closest thing to printing money legally. Since there is no financial pressure to develop or sell, these lots never get developed and when sold they remain a parking lot. Until this is corrected and other issues like this gets changed, Buffalo will have a hard time with development in the downtown core.
    Lastly, I am not a pessimist. I am a realist. I want the same urban core that you want. I want a walking city. I want parking decks with retail in the first floor. I just know you can not “wish” these things to happen. I just know there are reasons why they have not happened already. i just know there are reasons why development is slow.
    All I was doing was moving the conversation to those points. After all, if people take time out of there day to post on BRO, then they must really care about the city. Look at how many posters post on these topics. For the most part, everyone wants the same thing. If a small group of people can hold Buffalo back, why can’t a small group unite and push Buffalo forward?

  32. Our city common council members should enact a law regulating surface parking lots to make it unaffordable to own them. There is nothing good about these lots except for the fact that they fatten Carl Paladino and Mark Croce’s pockets

  33. there is a way to tax property based on its value, rather than improvements (or lack, ie a parking lot). Called Land value tax, it has had mixed successes. not to raise the specter of pittsburgh, but they used a hybrid system for a few years.
    basically, the tax is a refelection of the land’s value. so if you build a 14 story building or parking lot, the tax is the same. in order to pay the tax on a more valuable location, you need a higher return on the property. the thinking is that it makes a parking lot a non sustainable business model.
    im not sure it has really be suggested here. it is an intersting alt, thou.

  34. buffalo gal-
    Please do me a big favor. Tell your architects to ditch the dark glass. Not only is it so 1970 but it will be deadly for any retail/restaurant business you hope to have. People want to see in and be seen in these spaces. You can’t do this with the Darth Vador look. The rendering, with its dark shadows at the ground floor illustrates this problem perfectly. Not a very inviiting look.
    Uniland has a beautiful example at the recently completed storefronts at the M&T building. Give us more, please.

  35. BuffaloGal,
    Since 200 Delaware is going to be big and blue, and I just removed the blue from 153, it has occured to me that people may start calling your building Big Blue instead of mine. I am ok with that. But the building formely known as Big Blue will need a new name. What do you think of Hunkville?

  36. Buffalo Gal,
    I like your intensity and commitment to Buffalo. I commend you for your work and the work of your organization. Believe me, Buffalo is way better for having all of you here, and may you all enjoy much success in the future…. …but the damn building looks like a huge, hulking birdbox. Sorry.

  37. Buffalogal,
    you’re asking US for leads about tenants for the first floor of 285 Delware? How about giving the ppl of Buffalo what they want and bringing in a national retailer or a clothing shop downtown? Convince Trader Joes or some other grocery store that isn’t Washington Market to move into the space (though I doubt it would be feasible). Put a starbucks in! How hard is it to convince starbucks to come somewhere these days. Is it really that hard to find a tenant? Do some negotiating.

  38. Bloviator – I think Hunkville is entirely appropriate.
    RisingDamp666 – The renderings are still in transition. Give us a chance to get it to final design…
    Ron R – Couldn’t help but think of you as we walked last night from our house to an event at the Hyatt. The sequence …. well-tended homes, 200 Delaware project and New Era, then nothing but parking lots until you get to the Hyatt. The city needs parking – but ramps, epsecially those with street level retail would make such a difference.
    As mentioned on other post – the request for tenants was somewhat tongue in cheek and the restaurant /patio plan is for 285 Delaware , not 285 where the first floor space avaiable is best suited for Class A office or retail.
    Thanks to all for suggestions, inspirations and ideas!

  39. Sorry! Bad form to be correcting my own corrections. Restaurant plan is for 200 Delaware – 285 Delaware is Class A office/ possible retail space. Sorry. Apparently not the multi-tasker I thought I was…

  40. Fair enough, Buffalo Gal! Again, I have to applaud your efforts and it’s refreshing to have someone involved in a large development be so willing to listen to the feedback and to be flexible as to the final design. So many others have just plowed ahead. I can’t wait to see the revisions you imply and I think that with a little tweaking, this baby just might soar. As to ground level tennants, being so near to a major campus of government buildings creates a real challenge: these guys just don’t stick around much after 3:30 in the afternoon. It always ends up being about Breakfast and Lunch. ( Cheesecake Factory indeed! ) That beautiful view had me thinking about a high-end restaurant at the top floor. That, and a joint like New York’s “Commissary” down below.

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