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Work at 500 Seneca Street Project Ready to Kick Into High Gear

A vacant industrial complex at the edge of the Larkin District is closer to being converted into a mix of offices and cultural and business incubator space.  500 Seneca LLC, consisting of FFZ Holdings and Savarino Development Corp, are seeking sales and mortgage tax exemptions from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to redevelopment the  former F.N. Burt Company plant.  The IDA will review the $35 million project at its January 8 meeting.


The F.N. Burt Company, a paper box manufacturer, constructed the complex as a series of buildings between 1901 and 1927.  It is highly visible from the I-190 and occupies nearly the full block bound by Myrtle Avenue and Hamburg, Spring and Seneca streets.   The developers purchased the vacant structure from New Era Cap Co. in March 2010.  New Era moved out in 2004 when it consolidated its local manufacturing facilities at a plant in Derby.

500 Seneca_Exterior-NIGHT_FINAL

The revamped 500 Seneca Street building will hold 195,000 square feet of unique Class A office space and 110,000 square feet of dedicated below market space for community and/or cultural organizations.  It will be co-anchored by Frontier Industrial Services and Frontier Group of Companies (through FFZ Holdings, LLC) along with the Buffalo Collaborative Opportunities & Management Enterprises (BCOME) Buffalo job training program.

Frontier Industrial Services and Frontier Group of Companies will relocate their headquarters from much smaller offices at 26 Mississippi Street to expanded premises at 500 Seneca.  Pending ECIDA approval, Frontier has committed to occupy a minimum of 60,450 square feet of space to house its operations with space included for future growth as well as office space for companion tenants.

The building will also house the  BCOME Buffalo job training program.  Job training is identified as a regional priority by the Regional Economic Development Council.  It will also provide a location for the Management Services Organization (MSO) Center which will provide collaborative office administration and support for not for profit organizations throughout Erie County.  Both programs are sponsored and operated in a collaborative partnership of The Matt Urban Center, The Old First Ward Community Association, and the University District CDC and would occupy 22,000 sq.ft. of space.

When first purchased, it was thought the iconic brick building with wood floors and columns at the corner of Seneca and Hamburg streets (below) would need to be demolished due to its poor condition.  The developers were urged to utilize historic preservation tax credits to now make reuse of this portion of the complex feasible.  The building is now listed on the state and federal historic registers.


The primary entrance to the complex will be located on the western end of the building closest to downtown.  It will feature a three-story lobby.  There will be two courtyards in the building.  One at the eastern end of the block will span all six floors and be open air.  It will be an amenity for the building’s tenants and help bring additional natural light into the building’s office floors.   A second courtyard on the western end of the block will be enclosed and run from the third to the sixth floor (below).  A cafeteria is planned for the third floor with seating available in the atrium.

Atrium Rendering

Offices will feature loft-style finishes with large exterior windows.   Architectural firm Chaintreuil  Jensen Stark is designing the project.  Preservation Studios is handling the tax credit certification work.

The project is not geared towards luring tenants out of the central business district.  Rather, like the nearby Larkin District office buildings, 500 Seneca’s large floor plates, proximity to downtown and the I-190, and over 1,000 planned parking spaces will attract firms that may otherwise locate in the suburbs.

If the IDA approves the aid package, construction will be immediately.  The development team has pulled a demolition permit to gut the building, has completed asbestos remediation, has stabilized and repaired the roof on the wood framed portion of the complex, and is currently working on environmental remediation of the site.

Get Connected: Savarino Cos., 716.332.5959

500 Seneca Site Aerial 2_12.13

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

View All Articles by WCPerspective
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