Rocco’s done it again. Buffalo’s golden boy developer, Rocco Termini, has taken another 90,000 square feet of historic building stock and turned it into a productive, hip, urban playground and workspace for city dwellers and workers. Foundry Lofts, the former FWS building and before that a foundry complex that once services the Pierce Arrow manufacturing facility just down the street, is already up and operational with the relocation of Buffalo Spree Magazine from Amherst.
Spree has taken 8000 square feet of space, leaving plenty of room for East Meets West Yoga, 48 apartments, 21 ‘guest rooms’, and a catering banquet facility (The Foundry Events – run by AcQua) that includes one of the most exquisite courtyards to be found anywhere in the region – the fountain was acquired in Montreal by Horsefeathers on Chandler (around the corner).
The guest rooms will be decorated by CooCoo U mid-century modern furniture guru Michael Merisola (also on Chandler). Throw in additional space for Utilant software company, and Rocco’s working on another full house that will be running on all cylinders in three months. The commercial space is full and tenants are already reserving apartments.
“We’re calling this area The Pierce Arrow Village,” Rocco told me. “At this site alone, we will have an additional 160 people living and working. Right down the street we have The Houk Lofts, which is now complete, and soon we will start work on the American Standard office building across the street. We’re creating critical mass here so that we can support additional retail. This village is close to Hertel, Amherst Street and Buffalo State College. I bet you that nobody ever really paid attention to these historic foundry buildings that had been painted a drab gray. When we’re done, there will be no homogenized drywall boxes here… this is the type of building that attracts tenants. Already Utilant is increasing its presence by an additional 3000 square feet since they first signed on. In order to accommodate the growth, we are busting a hole through the floor into the basement and adding a spiral staircase. We’ve given them a roll up glass garage door with a patio too. I’m Google-izing this place to keep the tenants happy.”
In the end, Rocco is putting a lot more than his heart and soul into this development project. All total, Foundry Lofts is turning out to be an $18,000,000 investment into the city. If you’re wondering how an investment of this magnitude can pay off? “Historic tax credits,” said Rocco. “Without those, it never would have happened. Also, banks want to see a track record for financing, and I have that. I’m only interested in rehabbing old buildings, and there are fewer and fewer around.”
*Thanks to News 4’s Winging it Buffalo’s Lauren Hall for joining in on the tour and interview