After completing two commercial restorations on Delaware Avenue and a mixed-use rehab on Ellicott Street, developer and architect Jake Schneider is focusing his considerable energy on his largest project to date, Lofts @ 136. The 88-unit building at N. Division and Elm streets will begin occupancy in the fall.
Unlike other residential projects completed downtown in the past decade, Lofts @ 136 is geared towards students. The circa-1910, 105,000 sq.ft. paper warehouse will house upwards of 300 students, many from nearby Erie Community College but also other local colleges, in a mix of one to four-bed units. There will be one five-bed unit available that has a bedroom created inside a former elevator shaft.
The warehouse was one of the very first concrete-framed ‘highrises’ in the world, built at a time when Buffalo was a burgeoning city and was all about new, innovative ideas. Schneider, who led me on a tour throughout the building, said that he is currently working on getting it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Conversion of the six-story building from a rugged warehouse to residential space is underway. Working with historic preservation tax credits, Schneider and his team were able to take on the massive project, and make it affordable. Exposed concrete ceilings and ductwork will add to the character and historic feel of the complex. While windows are being refurbished and reinstalled, plastic sheets act as a temporary shield from the elements.
New technology is a common theme in the historic building. It will be New York State Energy Star rated. A new roof is being installed with reflective shielding to relieve air-conditioning costs during the summer. State-of-the-art boiler systems will give each room high-performance heat and cooling.
Students will also enjoy spectacular views of the city.
The student laundry room housed on the first floor will have an exclusive website for students to check which machines are available, and will receive a text message when one is open.
Downtown Buffalo’s first Wilson Farms will locate on the first floor occupying 1200
12,000 sq.ft. of space. It will be open to the general public. An activity center on the ground floor will feature a fireplace and lounge area, multiple study and recreation areas, and large televisions featuring premium channels. Sabres games will be on every game night.
Three to four different styles of rooms are currently being created. Rents for the fully-furnished suites range from $475 to $650 a month— affordable pricing for college students and comparable with on-campus housing options.
Schneider says he finds new suprises daily while redeveloping the previously vacant building. Many will be incorporated into the new use.
“The good thing about a building like this is that is is built well,” said Schneider. “The bad thing about a building like this is that it is built well.” He says it is difficult to rearrange the layout because of the type of building it is. There is little “cookie cutter” about this building which makes it so great, but makes it a challenge to renovate.
Wilson Farms’ space will incorporate the existing concrete columns into its space (below).
Interesting features of the historic paper warehouse include a spiral-chute, streaming from the sixth floor down to the ground, where paper was slid down. While it has been dismantled, the chute will be put on display in a sculpture-like form in the Lobby. Two pieces of the chute can be seen below.
Get connected: http://www.136lofts.com/, 716.723.9000
Photos: Nathan Mroz (Buffalonian4life)