The first residents at Bethune Lofts are expected in mid-July. Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation is spending $15 million to convert an industrial turned educational complex at 2917 Main Street in to 87 market rate loft apartments. The building is adjacent to Bennett High School and one block from the LaSalle light rail station.
With heavy construction completed, construction crews are busy putting the finishing touches on the building’s common areas and unit finishes. The building’s façade, already vastly improved due to new windows, is being painted. Due to historic preservation tax credits, all work being done meets State Historic Preservation Office guidelines.
Designed in 1915 by the nationally recognized engineering company Lockwood, Greene & Company, the Buffalo Meter Company Building is an intact example of a reinforced concrete frame daylight factory. The Buffalo Meter Company had its main offices and shipping on the first floor, a machine shop and assembling on the second, another machine shop and tool room on the third floor and the brass foundry on the fourth floor. In 1969 or 1970, the Buffalo Meter Company left their long-time home on Main Street.
In 1971 the building was purchased by the University at Buffalo. The building was then used by the university to house the Department of Art, the Architecture Department and also portions of the Division of Continuing Education. It was renamed as the Louise Blanchard Bethune Hall, after the first professional woman architect and the first woman fellow of the American Institute of Architects, who maintained an active architectural practice in Buffalo at the turn of the twentieth-century.
By 1994, the university had relocated many of its programs to other buildings on its North and South campuses and vacated the former Buffalo Meter Company Building, using it for storage. Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation purchased the property in June 2011 and subsequently had it listed on the National Historic Register.
The primary entrance to the complex is located at the rear of the building adjacent to a secure 148-car parking lot. Building access is controlled. Artist Augustina Droze is currently painting a mural on a lobby wall that will pay homage to the building’s heritage.
Of the 87 apartments, 37 are one-bedroom units. There are 28 different floorplans in the building and original features such as fluted columns, brick walls, first floor loading dock doors, and fireplaces, have been incorporated into the units. Eleven of the fourth floor apartments are two-bedroom, two-story units with the master bedroom on the fifth floor. A one-level, 1,250 sq.ft. penthouse unit on the Main Street side of the setback fifth floor has two-bedrooms and 270 degree views.
Apartments feature white oak flooring in the main living areas, carpeted bedrooms, stone tile in the bathrooms, stainless steel appliances, maple cabinets, solid surface countertops and tile backsplashes. Units are spacious with ceiling heights up to fourteen feet.
With 70 percent of the building façade being windows, the units are bright. The developer is installing solar shades in each unit to control the amount of light and to provide consistency with window coverings. The operable windows were custom built and the mullions match to a fraction of an inch to recreate the historic appearance of the building.
Tenant amenities include a bike storage room, lounge, and fitness center on the ground floor and an outdoor recreation area. A laundry facility allows tenants to check on machine availability from a cell phone and receive texts when their wash or drying is complete.
The building is not intended as college student housing. Ciminelli has been marketing the units on the light rail system and has an interest of over 100 people. The interest list includes University at Buffalo graduate students, UB staff, Medical Campus employees and others.
Rents range from $950 for a one-bedroom unit on the garden level to $2,660 for the spectacular penthouse unit. Two-story units are priced at $2000+ Most units are in the $1,200 to $1,700 range. Rents includes heat, air conditioning and water.
Tenants begin moving into the second and third floors on July 15. Occupancy on the garden level and first floors follows on August 15 with the top two floors available on August 30. Leasing started last week.
Carmina Wood Morris, PC is the architect for the project and LP Ciminelli is construction manager. The building is expected to be LEED-certified.
This is the second major Main Street project that Ciminelli is working on. The company is also constructing a medical office building at Main and High streets in the Medical Campus.
Photo: Carmina Wood Morris