For the first time in two decades, the Hotel Graystone will soon have legal occupants. Ellicott Development is putting the finishing touches on 42 market-rate apartments in the landmark building. The first apartments will be ready for tenants on September 1. Painters have been working on the outside of the building this week and its appearance is dramatically improved.
Rehabilitation of the circa-1897 Hotel Graystone at 24 S. Johnson Park has been on the wish list for preservationists and others for years. The six-story building was designed by Buffalo architect Carlton T. Strong and Ernest L. Ransome, an English-born architect who first experimented with reinforced concrete construction by using twisted metal rods to strengthen the material.
Originally called the Alabama Apartments, it was designed to house 120 luxury apartments. When market conditions failed to support the upscale plan, it was redone as the Berkeley Apartments, catering to short-term tenants. The apartment/hotel hosted hundreds of visitors to Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition in 1901 and was renamed the Graystone in 1912.
Ellicott Development purchased the property in March 2002 with plans to convert the then rooming house into a market-rate, upscale apartment building. Work came to a halt after a worker fell through an upper floor while gutting the structure.
As the downtown housing market heated up in early 2006, Ellicott revived plans to convert the building into apartments albeit with smaller units than planned previously. A few months later Rocco Termini and Signature Development announced their intentions to buy the property and take on the conversion project. Signature Development later backed away. A hole in the roof led many to believe the building was doomed despite assurances from Ellicott Development that the building would be renovated.
Its rundown condition in a neighborhood that has seen a significant amount of public and private sector investment was a source of frustration for both neighbors and downtown boosters.
Ellicott Development gutted the building in fits and starts during the down economy of recent years. Each sign of work led many to mistakenly believe a full-renovation was underway. Me included (more than once).
Those hopes finally became reality last year when Ellicott Development started a $5.2 million overhaul of the building. A mix of one and two bedroom apartments will be available along with a small amount of ground floor commercial space. Rents range from $750 to $1,595 with occupancy as soon as September 1.
Get Connected: Ellicott Development, 716.854.0060