An upscale boutique hotel planned for the circa- 1912 Curtiss building at Huron and Franklin Streets is now moving forward. Developer Mark Croce says contractor bids on the project are due December 5.
Upon completion, the building will be a 68-room hotel complete with a full service three-meal restaurant, high-end finishes, and a rooftop patio bar. The redevelopment will incorporate sustainable and green technology features.
After beginning asbestos abatement work and interior demolition at the Curtiss, Croce put the project on pause he purchased the landmark Statler Hotel in 2011. He promises the wait will be worth it.
“This will be a destination property and the planned amenities will not only cater to guests, but locals as well,” says Croce. “It was full-steam ahead on the Curtiss until I bought the Statler,” says Croce. “The Statler required immediate attention.”
Croce is not concerned about the number of hotel rooms underway or proposed downtown.
“Everyone wants to be in the hotel business,” he says. “They put up a box, add a square pool, and throw open the doors. I am in the hospitality business and will do this right. There is a lot of new inventory but this will be top of the class. Room rates will be comparable to top hotels in other cities.”
Croce will bring his restaurant and nightclub experience to the Curtiss project. A restaurant and lounge will occupy the ground floor. It will feature a revolving bar modeled after the former Chez Ami restaurant and bar that was located on Delaware Avenue.
Croce says Eric Nessa, the former Executive Chef at Tempo, will run the Curtiss’ restaurant. He’s currently working at the Chop House and is honing the menu for the new restaurant that will have a Mediterranean/Italian theme.
“It will be the finest designed restaurant in the city,” says Croce. “I’m proud to have Eric on my team.”
The ballroom addition once planned for the former Continental site adjacent to the Curtiss has been dropped due to the massive banquet operation at Statler City. Instead, the hotel’s main entrance, porte-cochere and on-site dedicated parking for the hotel guests will be located there. Previously planned second floor meeting rooms will now be additional hotel rooms.
The rear of the Continental site will house an indoor/outdoor hot spring. Think of a meandering hot tub with rock-like walls that can be entered inside the building and guests can exit the building while still in the 104 degree water. It will feature an outdoor waterfall as well.
Plans to add a seventh floor to the building were dropped after the State Historic Preservation Office objected to adding a level that might be visible from sidewalk level. The project utilizes historic preservation tax credits but Croce did not syndicate the credits to fund the project. He will use the credits internally.
Instead of a seventh level, an upscale lounge will be built on the roof. It will feature a limited food menu, dramatic downtown views, and cater to a mature crowd, both hotel guests and local residents.
Rooms in the hotel will feature motorized window shades, high end finishes and furniture, complementary mini-bars, plenty of marble in the bathrooms, and in some rooms, soaking tubs.
There will be valet parking and an airport shuttle for guests.
A cornice will be added to the building and LED lighting highlight the exterior.
“We want to show off the ornate terra cotta façade,” says Croce. “It will be lit up like a Christmas tree.”
Croce expects the remainder of the demolition work inside the Curtiss to resume in January and full construction to be underway before Spring. Young + Wright architects designed the project and R&P Oakhill Development is managing the construction.
Croce, one of downtown’s biggest boosters, has a number of projects in the works downtown including a couple of new ones he is not ready to publicly talk about just yet. He is also still waiting for State funding to be finalized to do exterior work at Statler City.
After investing six million dollars on the building’s lower three levels, Statler City is the most successful banquet and event facility in Western New York. Croce says reuse of the upper floors will be market driven and he has had discussions with parties interested in joint ventures to add new uses to the building.
Though the Curtiss project was delayed, Croce’s excitement for the project hasn’t waned.
“This hotel will be over the top,” adds Croce. “It will be something Buffalo has never seen.”