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Goodbye Cloister

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.” 
 

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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.

Written by RaChaCha

RaChaCha

RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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