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Downtown Development Recap: 2013 Edition

2013 was a busy year for area developers.  Fifty-one ‘downtown’ projects were finished, announced or under construction last year stretching from the First Ward to the Medical Campus.  Fourteen projects were finished, nineteen were unveiled, and 18 were under construction as the year came to a close.

If you thought development has seen an uptick, you are correct.  In 2012 there were 29 ‘active’ projects in the area below Goodell Street to the First Ward.  Last year there were 41 in the same area.


Higher resolution map here: 2013 Downtown Development

The largest project completed last year was also the most controversial.  The Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino opened in mid-August.  Though it is wasn’t the $333 million casino and hotel complex envisioned by the Seneca Nation in 2007, the scaled back casino and adjoining parking ramp still came in with a $130 million price tag.



There were 92 residential units added last year.  The long-anticipated rehab of the Graystone Hotel was wrapped up over the summer and brought 42 units to the downtown market.  Ellicott Development was particularly busy last year and completed a dozen apartments and started work on 13 others at 10 Symphony Circle, added seven units at the Antonio along Pearl Street, started 30 units at 199 Scott Street, and announced plans for five units at 173 Elm Street and 32 units in The Carlo complex proposed for Waterfront Village.

Other projects completed last year include eight affordable apartments at Cynthia Gardens on Hudson Street, twelve units at Scott Croce’s mixed-use development at Delaware Avenue and Virginia Street, three units in the Genesee Gateway complex, and eight units at Kissling Interest’s W. Huron Lofts project.

One hundred three residential units were under construction as the year ended.  s 43 apartments at 199 Scott Street and 10 Symphony Circle, there are three units being built at 535 Main Street, one unit each at 537 Main and 9 Genesee Street, and 18 units in the Tishman Building conversion.  The largest residential project underway is The Apartments at the Hub project on Swan Street with 50 units.

The residential development pipeline shows no sign of letting up.  There were plans announced for 297 residential units last year. Housing projects on the near east side: Evergreen Lofts on Cherry Street and an apartment complex at 367 Broadway.

Redevelopment of historic buildings continues.  Mark Croce is proposing up to 50 units in the Miller’s Livery building on W. Huron Street and James Jerge is planning 25 apartments in the Knights of Columbus complex at 506 Delaware Avenue.  Three buildings in the heart of downtown will be getting residential units including three units at 5-7 Genesee Street, five apartments at 112 Genesee Street, and two units at 483 Main Street.

The largest residential project announced last year was for Buffalo River Lofts on Ohio Street.  That project will be located on the site of the Erie Freight House and will include 78 one and two-bedroom units.

For the first time in many years, Rocco Termini did not have any new residential projects underway downtown.  He has been focusing his efforts on North Buffalo as of late.


Office Space

Despite a nearly-empty Seneca One Tower and the upcoming vacancy at Key Center’s south tower, office space construction continues downtown.  Developers are not foolish, nearly all of the projects have significant pre-leasing from an anchor tenant or built-to-suit such as Catholic Health’s administrative center at Oak and Genesee streets.

Phillips Lytle moved into the top four floors of Benderson Development’s One Canalside at 125 Main Street in November.  Two relatively small office projects were also completed last year: multi-tenant office space at Delaware and Virginia by Scott Croce and the Martin Group’s new offices at 477 Main Street.

Office space is under construction at McGuire Development’s reuse of the former Sheehan Hospital on Michigan Avenue renamed Compass East, the Conventus project on the Medical Campus, three floors of office space at 199 Scott Street, and office space in the Tishman Building that will be occupied by the Hamister Group.

A one-story warehouse at 505 Ellicott Street would be converted into 36,000 sq.ft. of modern office space according to a plan Uniland announced in May.  In the fall, Uniland unveiled plans for 250 Delaware Avenue that includes office space, a 119-room hotel, retail space, and a parking ramp.  Delaware North is committed to taking half of the office space leaving a significant hole in Key Center when its lease expires in 2015.

Mark Croce purchased the former St. Paul’s & St. Mark’s United Church at 185 Niagara Street and is marketing the building as office space.  Offices are also proposed for Ellicott Development’s The Carlo project on the waterfront and its rehab of 173 Elm Street.  The Krog Corp’s potential reuse of the Trico complex is also expected to have a significant office space component.


Hotel Rooms

There were no hotel rooms added to the downtown market this year but they are coming.  This spring a 96-room Courtyard by Marriott will open in the lower levels of One Canalside at the foot of Main Street.  A Hilton Garden Inn with 123 rooms will open later this year in the Tishman Building.  Also underway is a 205-room Marriott Hotel in the HARBORCENTER complex.

Hotels are proposed for The Carlo and 250 Delaware Avenue projects and Mark Croce has re-energized his plans for a 68-room boutique hotel in the Curtiss Building at Huron and Franklin streets.


Medical Campus

Construction is stirring within the Medical Campus.  Ciminelli Development is constructing Conventus at Main and High Streets.  That project will now be seven floors after striking a deal with the state to locate a biomedical research facility in the building.

Roswell Park’s Clinical Research Center on Michigan Avenue is also underway.  A ceremonial groundbreaking for the new UB Medical School was held in the fall but work on the project will begin in earnest this spring.  On Ellicott Street, the Educational Opportunity Center moved into its new building.

Late in the year Krog Corporation was designated developer of the vacant Trico complex.  Krog has not publicly released its reuse plans for the property but it is likely to be a mix of uses including offices and hotel rooms.



While downtown still waits for additional retailers, restaurants are filling in some of downtown’s first floor spaces.  Dinosaur BBQ is on track to open on Franklin Street early this year.  Mark Croce is finalizing plans for two Franklin Street restaurants nearby: a sports bar/pizzeria and a sushi restaurant.

Tappo opened in early 2012 on Ellicott Street.  This fall, Big Ditch Brewery announced plans to open a tasting room in Iskalo Development’s property at 55 E. Huron Street.  Iskalo also signed a restaurant tenant for 5 E. Huron Street.  Oshum, owned by Shango New Orleans Bistro & Wine Bar owner Jim Guarino, is expected to open this spring.  Sandra and Paul Wilkins will be opening Raclettes at 537 Main Street this year.

Other openings this year include Archer’s in the former City Grill space at 286 Main Street, The Lodge on Chippewa Street, and Perfetto in the Theater District.  Perk’s Café & Market opened at 36 Broadway and will be soon opening a second location at 523 Main Street.

On the entertainment front, Buffalo Iron Works, a live music venue, opened on Illinois Street behind First Niagara Center.  Buffalo RiverWorks proposes to bring two ice rinks, a music venue, and a number of dining and drinking options to the GLF Elevator property along the Buffalo River.

At the foot of Main Street, the Sabres organization is busy constructing HARBORCENTER.  The $172 million project calls for two new ice rinks, the 205-room Marriott hotel, an 800-space parking ramp, and retail and restaurant space.  The rinks and 15,000 sq.ft. restaurant are expected to open in September and the hotel will follow in May 2015. Despite all of the work, downtown remains a work in progress.  2014 came and went without firm plans for reuse of the AM&A’s building.

Infrastructure Work is winding down on the project to bring car traffic back to the 600 block of Main Street and ramping up on the stretch between Mohawk and Chippewa Streets.  In Canalside, work was completed on East Canal Park located between Scott Street and One Canalside and construction work on the replica canals on the Aud site is expected to start up again after a contractor change.

Seneca One Tower is nearly vacant after losing the Canadian Consulate, Phillips Lytle and HSBC Bank as tenants.  The fate of the tower will be the biggest question mark in the new year.

Thanks to all of the developers and investors that keep us busy at Buffalo Rising year round.  Apologies to anyone overlooked in this recap.


Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

View All Articles by WCPerspective
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