Creative Structure Solutions (CSS) is closer to converting a vacant, historic North Buffalo library into luxury apartments. David Pawlik’s firm has a contract to purchase the Fairfield Library at 1659 Amherst Street from the City and rehabilitate it into five apartments and a small amount of office space.
The Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday approved variances necessary for the nearly $1 million conversion project. CSS sought variances for parking, yard requirements and permitted use.
The Fairfield Library has been vacant and neglected since 2005. The library was designed by William Sydney Wicks for the Unitarian Universalist Church. It was built in 1897 and was also occupied later by another congregation before being taken over by the City for a branch Library in the 1920s. The building’s condition led many to fear the building would be lost due to deferred maintenance and worsening water damage.
“It’s in bad shape,” says Pawlik, “but we are well versed and experienced with these types of renovations.” CSS has been general contractor on a number of adaptive reuse projects and recently completed the rehab of a former church, The Lofts at Warwick, at 700 Parkside Avenue.
Five apartments are planned for ‘Fairfield Commons’ including two, two-bedroom units and three, one-bedroom units. Three of the units will have two levels. There will also be approximately 1,100 to 1,200 sq.ft. of office space available.
A parking lot for six cars is planned, mostly on the Fairfield Avenue side of the property. The building is located deep on a corner lot, on the rear property lines.
“There’s nowhere else to put it,” notes Pawlik.
Pawlik says the exterior of the building will not change. An effort had been underway to designate the property a local landmark earlier this year but the designation was ultimately not supported by neighborhood associations and the district councilman.
“As at 700 Parkside, we will retain all the significant features that make this a jewel,” says Pawlik.
Three public meetings were held to review the redevelopment plans plus two meetings with the Parkside Community Association (PCA). PCA supports the project and no one spoke in opposition at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing.
Pawlik expects a healthy demand for the units noting the Parkside neighborhood location just blocks from the Amherst Street light rail station, the building’s character, and the design of the units. The apartments at CSS’s The Lofts at Warwick are fully leased with a waiting list notes Pawlik. There are two prospective tenants for the Fairfield’s commercial space.
The project has special meaning for Pawlik who grew up nearby.
“I have a personal connection to the building and neighborhood,” says Pawlik. “As a kid we used to attend the Fairfield Library and when we lived in North Buffalo our sons attended St. Marks which is approximately three blocks away. They also utilized Fairfield.”
Work is expected to start in the middle of August and units will be ready by March 2013.
Says Pawlik, “We’re pretty excited, and ready to move forward.”
Get Connected: Creative Structures Services, 716.882.1226