A unique mix of uses is expected to fill a remade Seneca Street industrial complex. Preliminary plans call for light-industrial, office and residential uses in the six-story structure located at the corner of Seneca and Hamburg streets. The property was purchased in March for $200,000 by 500 Seneca Street LLC, a partnership that includes developer and contractor Sam Savarino. Agreements are in place with firms to take two floors of space.
The sprawling industrial complex was originally home to the F.N. Burt Company, a manufacturer of small paper boxes. According to Chris Hawley's The Hydraulics Press, the factory produced upwards of four million boxes per day. What appears to be one building is actually a series of buildings, at least a half dozen, built from 1901 to 1927.
New Era Cap Co., the property's last occupant, departed in 2004 when it consolidated its local manufacturing facilities at a plant in Derby. It has been vacant since and portions of the complex are not as solid as they appear from the street.
The development group is planning to demolish the the four-story brick portion at Seneca and Hamburg streets (see site plan below). Upon completion, the revamped complex will total slightly over 200,000 sq.ft. in size and will help bridge the Larkin District to the east and downtown to the west.
"Our original, preliminary plans showed us saving the corner building," said Savarino, President and CEO of Savarino Companies. "But once we got in there, we found that the building had deteriorated significantly."
Savarino says the brick portions of complex have wood floors, beams, columns and roof decking that have not held up well compared to the newer, solid masonry construction of the buildings on the west end of the property.
"That portion of the complex just isn't usable anymore," he said. "In the end, it allows us to accommodate a tenant we have secured for the first floor."
Savarino does not want to name the company eyeing the 32,500 sq.ft. first floor, but says it is a local light manufacturing firm that is bringing new work into the area and needs a larger facility. A second company, a professional services firm, is taking 42,000 sq.ft. of office space on the second floor.
The first floor tenant's primary access will be located on the east end of the building. A new main entrance serving the balance of the building will be constructed along Spring Street. It will feature a covered entryway and a small addition to the building's west façade (above).
Floors three through five will each offer 31,000 sq.ft. of office space. Savarino says the project will not be geared towards poaching tenants out of the central business district. Rather, he says that like the nearby Larkin at Exchange office building, 500 Seneca's large floor plates, proximity to downtown and the I-190, and free parking will attract firms that may otherwise locate in the suburbs.
"We don't see the building as competition for downtown," said Savarino. "We are competing with the suburbs."
A roof over an existing atrium extending from the third through sixth floors within the building will be removed. The exposed courtyard will become an amenity for the building's tenants and help bring additional natural light into the building's office floors. Similar to Savarino's 95 Perry Street, a rooftop garden is also planned.
Fourteen loft apartments would be created on the building's 16,400 sq.ft. L-shaped sixth floor. Several of the units will have downtown skyline views.
If the City agrees, Myrtle Avenue between Hamburg and Spring streets would be abandoned. Parking for 183 cars is planned.
Savarino has worked with some of the development group's partners on past projects and they approached him with an interest in renovating the building. Savarino's company will be shepherding the project through the development review process and will be the construction manager. The $25 million project will utilize New Market and Historic Tax credits. IDA financing is also being pursued. BHNT Architects, PC is project architect.
Said Savarino, "There are a lot of moving pieces, but our intention is start work by the end of the year."