The Buffalo Common Council has approved the demolition of the Erie Freight House on Ohio Street allowing for a 78 unit apartment project to proceed.
Freight House Landing 441 Ohio Street LLC purchased the Erie Freight House property in March 2012 from Great Lakes Fibres Corp. The circa-1868 building is a two-story heavy timber frame structure with 550 feet of Buffalo River frontage in the growing Ohio Street corridor. The development team is a partnership made up of contractor/developer Sam Savarino and Frontier Group of Companies, LLC (formerly FFZ Holdings).
The exterior of the Erie Freight House that used to be wood is now clad in rusted metal siding. The building was nominated and approved as a local landmark in 2012 though the building was in deplorable condition.
Engineers determined the building condition to be “very poor” with several minor collapses as well as areas of major collapse. The City had condemned the building as unsafe to occupy. The center third of the building was deemed to be “beyond repair.” The historical integrity of the south and north sections were compromised by recent renovations.
The Buffalo Preservation Board recommended denial of the demolition request. The Buffalo Common Council on Tuesday considered the Preservation Board’s recommendation and studies provided by the development team and approved the demolition.
The proposed Freight House Landing will be a five-story building featuring secured ground floor parking, a small amount of first level commercial office space, a mix of 62, 900 sq.ft. one-bedroom units and 16, 1,800 sq.ft. two-bedroom units, high-end amenities, passive greenspace on the water’s edge, rooftop patios and gardens, floating boat docks for new river access and secure storage for recreational water vessels.
The project architect, Chaintreul Jensen Stark Architects (CJS), has carefully incorporated district elements and history into the new design. The concrete stairtowers are reminiscent of the grain elevators along the river. The building will be designed to complement extant and former industrial architecture along the river’s edge. An earlier draft is show here.
441 Ohio Street LLC has reached an agreement with Preservation Buffalo Niagara on a protocol for the salvage, inventory and storage of remnants of the former Erie Freight House for possible reuse or repurposing at another time and place.
“We have promised to continue to refine the final design to compliment the river and to try and incorporate salvaged remains in the final product,” says Savarino. “This may entail some changes to the exterior skin and finishes and perhaps the massing of the structure but the program and basic plan will remain as is.”
Savarino expects demolition work to start shortly and project construction to be underway in April.