The former Cloister at Delaware and Virginia street is coming down. A mixed-use project is slated to take its place. Plans call for a 20,000 sq.ft. office building fronting Delaware Avenue and three, three-story townhouses along Virginia Street. Developer Scott Croce says the project will cost $3 million to construct. He intends to relocate his practice to the medical building’s first floor. Space on the second and third floors will be leased to other medical offices.
The contemporary design was revised once but faced tough sailing with the Preservation Board when two neighbors objected to the “insensitive” plan that “isn’t compatible” with the historic Allentown neighborhood. The Board’s vote on the project was 4-4 and thus didn’t take action on the project and thus authorized it.
A design that didn’t mimic the style and detailing of the historic Allentown properties was exactly what Croce had in mind. The chiropractor, who purchased the Cloister site for $460,000 in 2009, wanted a distinctive and modern design.
“A few neighbors are worried about the contemporary design,” Croce said. “I didn’t want an old looking building on an old site.”
Croce asked four architectural firms for design concepts before selecting TRM Architecture, Design and Planning for the work. TRM is located a short distance from the site and the firm’s principals, Matt and Chris Moscati, saved a historic mansion at 591 Delaware Avenue from the wrecking ball.
Project architect Matthew Moscati of TRM says the office building will have frosted glass, a base of ledgestone, and reddish brown resin paneling. Upper level windows along Delaware are squares in horizontal bands while the Virginia Street façade is nearly full-glass. A landscaped garden would be installed on the building’s roof. The townhouses would be of similar design. Each will have a private garage entryway along Virginia Street.
The property previously contained a residence where Mark Twain lived from 1870 to 1871. It was destroyed by fire in 1963, but the carriage house remained. The Cloister, one of Buffalo’s fabled restaurants, was opened by James D. DiLapo, Jr. in 1964 and closed in 1989 (below). Business First and the Buffalo Law Journal occupied the building until 2001 when the publisher relocated to the Lafayette Court building on Main Street. The building has been vacant since. The brick carriage house on the Holloway Alley side of the property is being incorporated into the project.