One of downtown’s largest mixed-use projects is racing towards completion. The Hamister Group, Inc. is converting 10 Lafayette Square, the former National Fuel headquarters, into office, apartment and hotel space. Hamister purchased the 20-story building in late 2012 for $1.8 million from a New York City investment firm.
The 174,400-square-foot building will feature a 124-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, 18 market-rate apartments, and corporate offices for The Hamister Group. Carmina Wood Morris designed the building makeover and R & P Oak Hill is managing the construction. The project carries a $41 million price tag.
Mark Hamister, Chairman and CEO of The Hamister Group, Inc, said, “From the beginning we understood the complexities of this project. We knew we needed to partner with a world class team to serve as our consultants during the design phase but who could then execute upon that vision to bring it to a reality.”
Work is being finished from the top down. The Hamister Group’s employees will be moving into the eighteenth through twentieth floors in early July. The three floors with a total of 30,000 sq.ft. of office space are connected by an internal staircase (below). Offices and residences have their own lobby off of Lafayette Square.
Great lengths were taken to engineer removal of a concrete column that was located dead center in what will become Chairman and CEO Mark Hamister’s office in the southwest corner of the 20th floor. The office has sweeping views of the southern end of downtown and to the west, the Liberty Building, City Hall, and waterfront (below).
Views from other areas of the building aren’t too shabby either. On a clear day the mist from Niagara Falls and the skyline of Toronto can be seen.
Below Hamister’s offices are three floors of apartments. The eighteen apartments will be ready for occupancy by August 1. See accompanying post for details on the residential units.
The Hilton Garden Inn will occupy the building’s first fourteen floors and will an intended opening date of October 10. The hotel lobby is located in the corner of the building fronting both the square and Main Street with an opening between the first and second floors where a chandelier will hang (below).
A drop-off area for hotel guests will soon be constructed along the Lafayette Square side of the building. The porte-cochere and bump-out are designed as to not interfere with the Main Street re-traffic project. Valet parking will be provided.
There will be a lounge and bar run by the hotel on the first floor with outdoor seating along Main Street. Additionally, there will be a full service restaurant and bar on the second floor along with lounge space.
Conference rooms are located on the third level. An existing terrazzo staircase connecting the first and second floors will be restored and a new staircase of like design is being added between the second and third floors.
A fitness center and pool, available to all of the building’s tenants, is located in the basement.
Hotel rooms are generously sized. Several of the rooms have separate living and sleeping areas. A large seating area will be located in the center of the hotel room floors (below).
“All of the uses fit really well within the building,” says Jonathan Morris, AIA of Carmina Wood Morris. “Hilton Garden Inn’s prototype property is horizontal. We’ve taken all of their amenities and inserted them vertically within the building.”
Minimal exterior changes are planned. The building was listed on the National Register in 2012 not so much because of the International style of the building, but because of the architect, Emery Roth & Sons. The design firm has a lengthy list of commissions in its hometown of New York City, mostly apartment and hotel buildings, but few elsewhere. Emery Roth was hired by Tishman Realty & Development also of New York to design the Tishman Building. It was completed in 1958. A twin building was also constructed in Cleveland.
Each of the building’s single-pane windows is being retrofitted with the Renovate by Berkowitz system, adding two lites of high-performance, low-e glass to the interior surface of the existing windows, creating triple-pane insulating glass units.
On the building’s north façade, existing steel windows that open had to be retained due to historic preservation tax credit requirements and will be restored.
While the façade currently looks cloudy, that will change in coming weeks as the curtain wall will be cleaned. The stainless steel ground floor and aluminum trim on upper floor windows will be buffed (aluminum cleaning test area seen below).
Hamister said, “I’m thrilled that our group is a small part of the re-birth of Downtown Buffalo and that in addition to creating a high-quality space and new jobs, we are also bringing our corporate office back to the City is Buffalo. It’s an exciting time to be in Western New York.”
The Hamister Group currently owns and operates four hotels in the states of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi, three Assisted Living Facilities in Western New York and Rochester and a home health agency in Potsdam, NY. The firm is also planning a mixed-use hotel project in downtown Niagara Falls and recently purchased a Ramada hotel in Jamestown.
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