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Leasing Begins as Bethune Lofts Nears Completion

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.

Get Connected: Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation, 716.631.800

Photo: Carmina Wood Morris

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • Andrew

    Beautiful! It’s amazing what some creativity and a deep pocket book can do with these wonderful older structures. This big boost in investment along the entire Main st corridor should do wonders for the subway system. With that said, the NFTA should have the foresight to begin ‘freshening up’ the stations as some need a little TLC.

  • Chris

    Free Wash/Dryer w/ texting technology ALMOST makes up for not having in room units.
    Can’t wait to check this place out!

  • hamp

    Looks great. Love the windows and nice finishes!

  • ladyinwhite

    Rents are a steal with air and heat included for 14+ ceilings. Also including solar shades for uniformity is a brilliant idea. Nothing worse than a building with many windows and wretched miss matched window treatment. Beautiful build out I must say indeed.

  • Travelrrr

    Wonderful build-out–the windows are perfect. Trico downtown could look every bit this beautiful.
    Anyone know the details about a previous owner prior to Ciminelli? Didn’t said owner sell some of the copper from the building? or the cornice? I seem to recall a story as such……

  • Travelrrr

    Looks as though we might have our downstate friend to thank for the loss of copper:

  • grad94

    just wanted to pile on more compliments about the windows. when you see these daylight factories with their original windows, they are truly handsome and you realize what an improvement they were for factory workers who were previously subjected to ‘dark satanic mills.’ in large cities, daylight factories are highly desirable as office space.
    just compare the before and after photos in the related stories footer at the bottom of this page.

  • RaChaCha

    Jeepers, creepers…where’d ya get them peepers!
    Jeepers, creepers…where’d ya get those eyes!
    Gosh oh, git up…how’d they get so lit up!
    Gosh oh, gee oh…how’d they get that size!
    (Louis Armstrong & I love the windows, too.)

  • elmdog



    How did they get the toxins out of the brick?

  • brownteeth

    Elbow grease 🙂

  • suburban_hillbilly

    …as usual, find something negative to inject in the conversation. They sprawled them out.


    Seem like a positive comment to me. If they figured out how to get the toxins out of the brick here they probably could do it at the TRICO Building too. That is good news isn’t it?

  • MikeN

    If you had stated this in the first place sure it could’ve and probably would’ve been construed as being a positive comment or even a legitimate question if given the correct punctuation. However, it wasn’t and pretty much comes off as being a snippy, sarcastic comment. No one but you is responsible for the incorrect interpretion of your half developed/communicated thought.

  • jwright

    Fantastic job. I hope this spurs a renaissance on that stretch of Main. From Kenomore & Main to Amherst & Main it’s thug life central. It’s embarassing enough that most of our “Main” street consists of drug rehab centers or mental health facilties.

  • RaChaCha

    Re: the contamination issues, I’ve heard that the developer bore some extra expenses shaving down the concrete floors — I understand that because the building was left open for so long, the pigeon “byproducts” accumulated and worked partly into the concrete floors.
    If anyone has any solid (so to speak) information on that, please weigh in.


    It was meant to be sarcastic! The toxic bricks excuse used to prove that buildings need to be demolished is absurd.

  • Nicholas Tyler Miller

    The concrete on the exterior looks so fresh and crisp with that new paint job. That alone is a major improvement.
    I wonder if an interesting tactic for generating interest in older buildings could be to paint them. It really changes the way I perceive the building.

  • MikeN

    Nice job editing your previous comment with punctuation – Must be a BR contributor perk.
    Again, adding some context is helpful. Had you made the reference in your original comment there wouldn’t have been any doubt in your inference. If I don’t recall you were just recently bemoaning trees being planted in Tift and not in the city, so its not unheard of you to find fault in something that is otherwise a good thing regardless.
    Thank you for supporting the fact that it was not a fully developed post.

  • Greenca

    I thought the sarcasm was obvious. This building effectively negates many of the issues the naysayers bring up about Trico. The units here are beautiful. Trico has the possibility to be just as beautiful as well.

  • Greenca

    Ciminelli’s rehab is much better than the version proposed by the previous developer. Their proposed fifth story addition looks fake.

  • MikeN

    I would agree if it was the Tri Main building we were discussing that the link to Trico could be made as the two buildings would be more likely to share similar contaminants or if the bricks were contaminated and required remediation. However, it was mentioned it was in reference to Trico until the second post clarifying.
    Or if you are a mind reader….

  • Tim

    These are some of the best residences in the city. The Larkin project created possibly the most modern, attractive class A office space WNY has to offer. I’m with you: trico could and should be stunning.

  • brownteeth

    I do know that mass accumulations of bird droppings can cause respiratory problems if inhaled when disturbed so it has to be treated like a haz mat when removed.

  • HWA

    Looking at the floor plans from the link above, doesn’t the building code require a window in bedrooms for emergency egress? Many of the bedrooms appear to have no exterior window. Can anyone with expertise in this area comment?

  • r-k-tekt

    Windows are some of the most unrecognized items that are so character defining items to buildings….Check out all of the Buffalo School projects…no stinking aluminium or vinyl sliders in them

  • suburban_hillbilly

    Ah. Now I get the joke. Sorry I missed the connection to Trico. Regarding it being good news…Not really. To be honest I am not in the save Trico crowd. Toxic bricks or not, in my opinion an abandoned wiper blade factory is neither historically significant nor an architectural treasure. If they save it great, if they knock it down and build new…also great. I can go either way.

  • Tim

    The bedrooms have a window, or maybe an open void, that leads to the stairwell with exterior windows. That must be sufficient for occupancy purposes and bedroom designation. Otherwise they would be ‘illegal’ bedrooms.

  • LouisTully

    Easy, Mike. I think the people familiar enough with steel and the issues that usually come up on here could see his comment as clearly sarcastic. Even so, it wasn’t that hard to make the connection.

  • whatever

    Well said about the wiper factory, hill.
    It might still get you branded by some as an absolutist uncompromising member of the tear-down crowd, but it was well said.
    About Bethune – and I realize I’m in the minority here – but as nice as those look, I still think Ciminelli should have to pay the same taxes that other $950/month landlords in the city with whom they’re competing would have to pay.
    And residential shouldn’t be considered ‘industrial’ development by the IDA as it was for this.

  • biniszkiewicz

    re: Ciminelli should have to pay real estate taxes: hear, hear!

  • RaChaCha

    Good paint point!

  • Spock

    I wouldn’t call SH those things based on the comment above. Seems like a rational, fair minded way to look at the issue. Both me and the Department of Interior disagree with his opinion (the later having exhaustive research as a basis for that opinion) , but he is very clear that that is simply his opinion and not the basis for a tear down argument.
    If someone were to say they thought their opinion trumped the research accompanying the National Register nomination, and that opinion was the rational behind screams for demolition, that would be an unreasonable argument and indicative of absolutist and uncompromising demolitionist thinking.
    Ditto if they were to write knee-jerk raging comments directed at those who felt differently, and/or say that they would support preservationists if they were proactive and put buildings on “lists” then turn around and attack them for proactively attempting to preserve a listed building.
    There is plenty of such uncompromising pro-demo absolutism in the BR’s Trico threads, but SH’s comment above isn’t one of them.

  • Spock

    Rationale not rational. I’ve got to re-read my comments before hitting the submit button 🙂

  • BuffaloQPublic

    Outstanding! I think Ciminelli Corp. has been watching HGTV. (smile)

  • Pegger

    Very impressive in many ways; but I am inclined to consider these units, despite the high ceilings, cozy in that the penthouse is only 1250 sq.ft. It’s not exactly downtown nor in a trendy area of Manhattan, West Hollywood, or the Wilshire Corridor.
    Yet, I will reserve judgment until I have seen a completed model.