Big changes are coming to the intersection of Main and W. Ferry streets. Developer Nick Sinatra’s Sinatra & Company Realty is planning to invest $2.3 million in two historic buildings that will bring 31 market-rate apartments and retail space to the high profile corner. Sinatra’s properties are across the street from HOME’s office and apartment project now nearing completion.
Sinatra has purchased over a dozen properties with over 200 apartments and 100,000 sq.ft. of commercial space in Buffalo and surrounding suburbs. In the city, Sinatra’s focus has been in the Elmwood Village and areas near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
In late October, Sinatra purchased the historic Fenton Hotel at 945 W. Ferry Street. The building, constructed to accommodate guests attending the Pan Am Exposition in 1901, contains 23 apartments. This year he acquired a vacant lot at 1516 Main, a small structure at 1524 Main, and 1526 Main, an attractive, three-story corner commercial building.
“The HOME project across the street is the catalyst for this,” says Sinatra. Paul Lamparelli, contractor on the HOME project, brought the Fenton’s availability to Sinatra’s attention. He was sold on the possibilities for the building and the area.
Architect Tommaso Briatico is finalizing plans for the redevelopment effort. Sinatra had originally planned on spending approximately $1 million to upgrade the properties but now anticipates creating higher-end units and the project cost has increased to $2.3 million.
“It’s an important corner,” says Sinatra pointing out the corner’s prominence where Main Street bends. “It’s where the east side meets the west side. I intend to extend the prosperity of Linwood Avenue a half block east.”
Units in the Fenton require a complete overhaul. Apartments currently have three small bedrooms and are dated and unattractive (above). They will be gutted and rooms will be enlarged and repositioned to create two-bedroom units with high-end finishes.
Common areas and building mechanicals will be updated. The few remaining historical elements such as the tiled entryways and pressed tin in the stairwells with a fleur-de-lis motif will be restored (above).
Much of the first floor of the Fenton was originally retail space but was mostly converted to residential units over time. That will not change, but the former hotel lobby at the western end of the building retains some original detailing. That space may be used as an amenity area for tenants or renovated for commercial/gallery occupancy.
Apartments will be approximately 900 sq.ft. on the ground floor and 1,100 sq.ft. on the upper floors that have shared patios overlooking W. Ferry Street. Rents in the Fenton are expected to be around $1,000/month and will be marketed to grad students, medical professionals and others.
With interior demolition permits in hand and working starting soon, the first ten apartments in the Fenton are scheduled to be ready for occupancy in August. Initial tenants may be able to select which interior color palette they prefer in their unit.
The circa-1878 corner building at 1526 Main Street will be a mix of retail space on the ground floor and eight loft apartments upstairs. The first floor contains 15,000 sq.ft. of light-filled space with 25′ high ceilings.
Upstairs, two one-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartments are planned. Existing hardwood flooring will be used where possible. Exposed brick walls and an ornate rear staircase will be retained (below). Ceiling heights on the third floor may allow for installation of loft areas in those units. Many of the building’s fifty windows are original and will be repaired.
An addition on the east side of the building will be constructed to create shared patios for most of the units in the building. Due to the uniqueness of the units and space, rents in the corner building will be slightly higher than those in the Fenton.
Off-street parking is planned behind both buildings that will incorporate ‘green’ features. Dave Majewski, tireless promoter of low-impact development, is involved in the design of that component of the project. The small commercial building at 1524 Main is in deplorable condition and will be demolished pending approvals by the City.
Sinatra is talking with the owner of the welding shop located west of the Fenton about installing a mural on the shop’s wall and has had received positive feedback from both the Linwood and Oxford block clubs on the plan. The City is also helping by committing to a constructing a new streetscape along W. Ferry Street which right now is a mix of mud, litter and crumbling curbs and sidewalks.
“This is my baby,” says Sinatra (above). “My other properties have typically required only a light rehab. Here we are doing a full-scale renovation. It takes vision, but this can be a prosperous area.”
Get Connected: Sinatra & Company Realty, 716.220.8468