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Big Reveal: Highland Park

The 27-acre Central Park Plaza site will have a much different future according to plans unveiled last night by LP Ciminelli to neighborhood residents. ‘Highland Park,’ the historical name for this area of the Fillmore/Leroy neighborhood, is envisioned as containing up to 600 new mixed-income rental units, new roads to tie the site into adjacent neighborhoods, and parks.  Construction on the $70 million project is expected to start next year.

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Louis P. Ciminelli bought the 27-acre Central Park Plaza site for $800,000 in 2012. Located at 129 Holden Street, Central Park Plaza was once a thriving property with many commercial tenants, but as a result of the failure of its owners to maintain the site and changing demographics and shopping patterns, the tenants left and it had become a neighborhood nuisance.

Its Brooklyn-based owner was ordered to sell the property under a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Shortly after purchase, five buildings, approximately 275,000 square feet, were demolished at cost of $1.2 million.  The site requires environmental remediation prior to reuse.

LPCiminelli is leading a team consisting of Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation, Stieglitz Snyder Architecture, Wendel, and Boston-based planning firm Goody Clancy working on the project. The developers have had a number of meetings with neighborhood residents and stakeholders to seek feedback on design, use, and layout options.

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highland9The site is surrounded on all sides by residences and apartments. It is also located just east of the Amherst Street light rail station, an asset the new owner plans to take advantage of.

New housing will consist of rental units in a mix of building types including four-story buildings, three-story walk-up units, and townhouses.

Chalmers Avenue would be extended into the site with a parkway design.  Wade Avenue and Hill Street would also be extended.  A round-about is planned for the Chalmers and Hill Street intersection.

The planning work extends beyond the Central Park Plaza site. LPCiminelli is working with the City to leverage its investment in the site to improvements in the Fillmore/LeRoy neighborhood. There are between 200 and 300 infill lots available on surrounding blocks where additional multi-family and home ownership opportunities are possible.

Get Connected: LP Ciminelli, 716.855.1200

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Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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  • solonggone

    I love the project when looking at just the project.  
    However, in the BN John Ciminelli was quoted as saying ‘We’re looking to the suburban market and people relocating to the area to capitalize on the thousands of jobs being created up and down the Main Street corridor’…..Is this realistic?  You have 600 new mixed-income rental units in this area and then 200-300 infill lots around the development.  That’s at the very least 2500 people. 
    Also, if these are mixed income units, does this mean that some low income units in other parts of the city are coming off the books?  Could the residents of McCarley Gardens be relocated here.  I think this development would qualify as ‘equal or better’…

  • BuffaloAllStar

    Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t the initial plan call for condo/townhome ownership options?
    All info. regarding yesterdays release states they’re all rentals….

  • norwood

    Oh my, without seeing the entire project if these courtyards are an example this is going to be a disaster. Stop creating enclaves and faux communities and just mimic the original street grid that sounds the plaza. Eyes on the street, incorporate the buildings with the community, this is day one stuff…

  • bfranklin

    solonggone The suburbanites and others that have been choosing the city, in my opinion, do so because they can walk to restaurants, bars, other events.  I’m in agreement that there is demand, but I’m not sure this type of development offers the things that someone relocating from the suburbs is looking for.
    Put another way, if there’s demand for six hundred middle market units in this part of the city, then there’s demand for a few hundred higher end units closer to the Medical Campus.

  • Stateofmind

    norwood Could not agree more. This is an “urban” development? Then, build like a city, for God’s sake.

  • paulbuffalo

    I had high expectations for this project.  Oh, well.  Why all rentals?  Why a courtyard?  Is this just Perry projects redux?

  • ZennFemm

    The housing stock in the adjacent area is spent.  The people in the neighborhood might be the ones for whom this project is being built….

  • jim1234664

    that courtyard looks like a 21st century st paul mall. I cant wait until karl fires up the bulldozers on this one…
    Just build some nice apartments and townhomes with reasonably quality finishes inside and out on normal streets you dolts. Throw some well thought out small greenspace in there somewhere if you must but this is awful.

  • i love the buildings as rendered, but can we see a site plan?

  • ExWNYer

    I’m underwhelmed. I’d go more modern and put in a low rise sleek condo on the corner closes to the light rail station. The courtyard is not a bad idea. As a parent in a city- any green space you can incorporate for children to play is welcomed.

  • BuffaloBoi

    it’s a nice, clean new ‘housing project’.

  • solonggone

    bfranklin
    Agree.  What’s also interesting is the projected cost of the project.  
    600 units plus all of the extras is projected at $70m.  That’s just $116k per unit.  Why the hell do other development project cost 3 to 4 times that again?

  • buffalofalling

    “…but as a result of the failure of its owners to maintain the site and changing demographics and shopping patterns…”
    Changing demographic and shopping patterns resulted in tenants leaving and the owner unable to make investments in the property.
    There, fixed. Get your causal relationships in the right order. Always convenient to blame a property owner when he makes the financial decision to not invest in a property in a rapidly declining neighborhood, city and region.
    But this is suburban design in the city. These huge projects worth millions are why the green code had limped along because the mayor and osp are unwilling to change the game so long as donors, oh I mean developers, want to develop.

  • solonggone

    For all of the people complaining about the design…give me a break.
    This is nothing close to the Perry Project.  If it was, the units would be built for $600k per and on the taxpayers dime.  As for connecting out to the streets..that’s all well and good until you see what you’re looking out at.

  • jim1234664

    If done right this actually might work. besides the couple streets of crappy ww2 projects to the north this area has potential. The housing stock is quality south of here and there isn’t enough demos that i would call it too far gone. Most importantly its cut off from the rest of the blight by train tracks and the 33. It may take 30 years but I do believe this hood will be desirable. Especially when you consider the proximity to main and the subway.

  • jibreelk

    I’m cool with this however why not go for 10 stories? Mix in a mix-use building however I’m impressed.

  • 300miles

    This looks great. I wish they weren’t all rentals.  But the site plan and building materials could create a really nice new neighborhood.

  • rockpile38

    Now that I see the whole development, it’s fantastic! This is a great opportunity to redevelop the surrounding neighborhoods as well! I drive throughout the East Side quite a bit and I do notice some beautiful old urban fabric in this area and like most of the East Side it has so much potential for reinvestment!

  • jonny99

    For those begging for new and affordable here you go

  • Does anyone know if this nearby project is still going to happen: http://www.legacydev.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=60&Itemid=130

  • beholdapalhorse

    There is a methadone clinic on the corner of holden and wade. Maybe they will move it to the west side ??? ; )

  • jim1234664

    The methadone district, it has a nice ring to it

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Thumbs up on this one. Could be a great neighborhood.

  • North Park

    buffalofalling This most certainly not suburban design.  Where is there anything like this in the suburbs?  Entire blocks full of 4 story apartment buildings and townhouses?  I haven’t seen anything like that on this scale anywhere in WNY.

  • Davvid

    Retrograde architecture.

  • buffalorr

    Ciminelli told us at the first planning meeting that there would be housing units for sale, not just rental so it’s disappointing to hear that there won’t be any. Still glad that my old neighborhood will be coming back to life.
    Also, this is not the east side. This is the north side of Buffalo. Since when has Bennett High School which is two blocks away been considered to be the east side?

  • Carrotflower

    buffalorr The East Side starts at Main Street. Everyone knows that.

  • North Park

    This was never really considered the East Side. It was Central Park at one time.
    Just North of here, both east and west of Main is considered University Heights.
    Just East of here is considered Kensington Bailey.
    Calling everything east of Main the East SIde is a little disengenous.
    Is Kaisertown the East Side? Or is it Kaisertown?
    Calling it North Buffalo is also wrong, Is Riverside North Buffalo, just because it is on Buffalo’s northern border? No.

  • TDC123

    buffalorr There will be housing units for sale – just not on the 27-acres. Those opportunities exist with the in-fill housing surrounding the 27-acres.

  • TDC123

    beholdapalhorse Yes, the owners of the methadone clinic agreed to not renew their lease in that building so they are looking to relocate.

  • TDC123

    jim1234664 Fillmore/Leroy are is not the ‘methadone district’ – it has been confirmed that most people who receive assistance from this clinic are from the suburbs.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    I drove past this site yesterday and the surrounding neighborhood is pretty rough, but there’s def a lot of possibilities.

  • MarcRebmann

    The #32 Amherst st bus is already a slow route, I hope for riders sake that this reroute does not occur.

  • buffalorr

    No, not that far north is doesn’t. It was never considered the east side until reporters from out of town who really don’t know Buffalo started labeling it that. Do you consider Bennett High School or SUNY south campus to be on the east side?

  • Captain Picard

    Nobody cares if you’re underwhelmed–you don’t even live here.

  • Captain Picard

    Keep complaining, morons.
    This was a flat, fenced, dangerous PILE OF RUBBLE for the past 25 years. Anybody who complains about what’s replacing it must have some serious mental problems.

  • buffalorr

    TDC123–Good to hear. I grew up on the street that borders this site, Rodney Ave. I often drive by to see what our old home looks like-it was actually abandoned for a few years and marked for demolition but now a new family inhabits it who look like they’re starting to fix it up. I do imagine buying a home in the neighborhood but still feel it’s still a little too rough especially with the very high crime rate. Hopefully I’ll time it right so I’ll get a home at a good price before it starts gentrifying too rapidly as happened around the medical campus.

  • buffalorr

    RyanNBO–Another poster here on BR mentioned just last week that construction should be starting very soon. The final green light has just been given.

  • Captain Picard
  • Not a bad conceptual design.  The major thing I’d change is breaking up the blocks between Holden and Hill with a new north-south cross street.

  • beholdapalhorse

    Its is the east side because it is on the east side of main and that is the neighborhood and demographic border in buffalo …..thats why amherst street at holden is called “East Amherst”

  • beholdapalhorse

    Also …Riverside is considered to be “north-west” Buffalo….js

  • Buffalo1985

    Why not just restore the existing streets and build a mixture of single family homes and several multi unit buildings. They can use the building designs and just incorporate those onto a regular street. The layout of this separates it too much from the surrounding area and just looks too fake? I can’t describe it correctly but something about it seems like an attempt at manufacturing a neighborhood almost like on a college campus.

  • bufforward

    Captain Picard We don’t need to dumb every discussion down to an “is A better than B” equation, so you can stop harping whenever people provide feedback. Is it better than what is there now? Yes. Are there ways it could be improved? Absolutely.

  • buffalorr

    beholdapalhorse–It has never been considered to be the east side. So you’re telling us Bennett High School is in the same district as City Honors? If so, you really don’t understand the different areas of Buffalo.

  • beholdapalhorse

    Its the east side of buffalo… ive lived on huntington and on main right across from Bennett …its the east side!

  • Carrotflower

    buffalorr Main Street was the redline that Jim Crow-era real estate companies used to racially balkanize Buffalo – giving rise, unfortunately, to the East Side as we know it today. The difference is obvious when you cross Main Street anywhere south of University Heights. It’s not an arbitrary line – the change in scenery is pretty damn dramatic.
    I’d say University Neights includes everything northwest of Main Street down to the railroad tracks/linear park that starts at the LaSalle Metro Rail station, plus the university campus and both sides of Main Street itself as far south as LaSalle. But the residential streets east of Main – Winspear, Lisbon and all that – are Kensington Heights, which is East Side.
    As for Bennett High School: many of the kids who went/go there might have come from Parkside or North Buffalo, but the school itself is in the East Side.

  • Carrotflower

    buffalorr You’re loyal to your old stomping grounds, and you want to defend it from people who would lump it in with the other neighborhoods on the big bad East Side, allegedly the worst ghetto in Buffalo. It’s understandable. I get it because I grew up in Schiller Park, which was a much nicer place in the ’80s than today. 

    But stop to think for a minute. At the end of the day, what meaning does playing around with the line where North ends and East begins have? The neighborhood itself doesn’t magically change just because we redraw its boundaries. The problem here is there’s a stigma against the words “East Side”. But look at what’s happening on some parts of the East Side – we have a Medical Corridor with something like 17,000 people work mostly white-collar jobs with good pay and benefits. We have a Fruit Belt where property values are going through the roof. We have preservationists rallying around the cause of a beautiful old Art Deco train station, And we have this latest new development on the site of the old Central Park Plaza. Just because the East Side conjures up the worst images of urban dystopia now, does that mean it always will? You should be happy to take a news story like this, tack the label “East Side” onto it, and help erase that stigma bit by bit.

  • Dr. Stone

    TDC123 jim1234664 Not true.  As of today’s date, the clinic has 637 patients and 71% of them have a Buffalo ZIP code.

  • buffalorr

    Carrotflower–This has nothing to do with the stigma of the east side’s crime. I was raised in this neighborhood 65 years ago. Our teachers always referred to where we lived as the North Side of Buffalo. So did the local TV Channels, The Buffalo Evening News and anyone who was around at that time. There were no students from what is actually the east side. It’s only been in the last few years that this new label has been placed on our neighborhood by people who are confused about what the north side of Buffalo. If what you believe were to be true, then there would hardly be any north side at all. Just think about it. Is Main and Amherst anywhere even remotely near William and Bailey ( Bailey being one of Buffalo’s longest streets.
    If what you believe were to be true, then there would hardly be a north side.

  • beholdapalhorse I grew up in Kensington.  In the 1970s and 1980s, when it was a predominantly white neighborhood, the media generally called it “northeast Buffalo”.  The neighborhoods really weren’t seen as part of North Buffalo – that was the North Park/Hertel Avenue area, Parkside, Central Park, Nye Park, and so on — nor the East Side. 
    As the black population increased through the 1990s, there were more references to Kensington as part of the “East Side”.  The term “East Side” became a descriptor of demographics as well as geography; it now seems to mean a part of Buffalo east of Main Street with a predominntly black population.
    More evidence of the “East Side = African-American” phenomenon; when I was growing up, Kaisertown was considered part of the East Side, but today I see some label it as part of South Buffalo.  In my mind, South Buffalo always meant all areas parts of the city south of the Buffalo River, plus historically Irish-American neighborhoods immediately to the north.

  • buffalorr

    Dan Blather–You hit the nail on the head with your comment. Completely correct. This area of Buffalo was relabeled the east side sometime during the nineties after it had become predominantly black. It was never known as that before then. Our telephone number when I lived on Rodney Ave. was PA-2378, with “PA” standing for Parkside. That’s Parkside Beholdapalhorse, not “Eastside”.

  • beholdapalhorse

    The hypocrisy of the stance you all are expressing is pretty blatant. Your argument is that it wasnt the “east side ” until it was predominant black is racist in and of itself. You are pretty much labeling the “east side ” as being something pejorative . There is nothing wrong with saying that nieghborhood is the east side…geographically it is on the east side of buffalo . It is east buffalo the same as allentown is the west side and the first ward is South Buffalo.

  • Carrotflower

    buffalorr So? Neighborhood names change. In the 1800s, everything north of Delaware Park and east of Black Rock was the “Buffalo Plains”, but you never hear it called that anymore. The ECMC area was called the “Jammerthal” in the turn of the century when Germans tried and failed to farm it; now that it’s an urban neighborhood it’s called “Grider” (when it’s called anything at all, other than “East Side”). Fillmore-Leroy may have been North Buffalo 65 years ago, but this ain’t 65 years ago.

  • buffalorr

    Carrotflower—“Fillmore-Leroy may have been North Buffalo 65 years ago”. OK,, I guess they jacked up all the buildings and moved them further east since then.

  • buffalorr

    beholdapalhorse–No hypocrisy being expressed here, only your wishful thinking. The dumbed down media did start calling this neighborhood “the east side” once it turned predominantly black. Blame them, not the people who grew up there and know a bit more on Buffalo’s history than you do since we lived through it.

  • Carrotflower

    buffalorr
    “…know a bit more on Buffalo’s history than you do since we lived through it.”

    “Buffalo’s history” continues to happen right now as we type this. We’re all living through it. It’s not frozen in time umpteen years ago when Fillmore-Leroy was white. When you get right down to it, the only thing that makes one Buffalo neighborhood different than another, or one “side” of Buffalo different than another, is the subjective opinion of Buffalonians. And that opinion can and has changed over time. Simply put, you won’t find a single source that puts Fillmore-Leroy in North Buffalo. Wikipedia doesn’t (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Side,_Buffalo), UB doesn’t (http://library.buffalo.edu/maps/buffalo-wnymaps/location/buffalo-neighborhoods/es.html), even Buffalo Rising doesn’t (http://rising.wpengine.com/2009/08/neighborhoods/). Now you may not like that, and that’s fine – but as the great Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

  • buffalorr

    Carrotflower–You may probably not want Leroy-Fillmore to be associated with the north side but that’s what it is. I have nothing against anyone who buys revisionist history, only feel sorry for them being misled.

  • buffalorr You kids

  • > Our telephone number when I lived on Rodney Ave. was PA-2378, with “PA” standing for Parkside.
    The phone in my parents’ house had a dial card that read TF-9796.  In the 1970s.  Buffalo was supposedly one of the last major cities in the US that adopted seven digit phone numbers; 1962 or 1963 I believe.  I remember people using the exchanges unironically well into the 1980s.

  • buffalorr

    Dan Blather–Exactly right on all counts again! I recall when Fillmore-Leroy was 99.9% white in the ’50’s, as was Bennett High and School 61. Fillmore Jr. High opened on Appenheimer St. behind the Glenny Projects in 1963. School 61 was then changed from a K-8 to k-6 requiring us to go to the new Jr. High. It was almost 50% white and 50% black. That was my first real experience with people of color. It was both interesting and exciting having new friends who were black. I was grateful for the experience of integration, thought it was a very important part of my life and still do.
    Once Fillmore-Leroy became more of a minority neighborhood, the surrounding neighborhoods especially Parkside and the UB area-no such thing as “University Height’s back then –wanted to disassociate themselves with us as it sounded bad when they’d put their houses up for sale. The media contributed to the rebranding too in their case merely out of ignorance and the kiddies sitting in front of the TV hearing this have obviously bought into.

  • buffalorr

    Dan Blather–Our “PA” exchange was also changed to a “TF-3” in the early ’60’s. Everyone was freaking out because we thought it seemed so complicated especially with having to dial the extra digit. We did keep that number until we moved to another area of town in the late ’60’s.

  • Captain Picard

    I don’t consider “waaaaahhhhhhh it’s not what IIIIIIIIIIIII waaaaaaaant!!!!!!” as being anything close to “providing feedback.”

    Also, let me introduce you to my knob.

  • Buffalo1985
    well, the same thing happened all over north buffalo a hundred years ago.  probably south buffalo, too.  or haven’t you walked down a street a noticed a dozen identical houses but for a few superficial fenestration or porch details, clearly put upat the same time by the same builder/developer?

  • OldFirstWard

    I’ll bump this question up to the top from the middle.
    Does anyone know where the first black neighborhood was established, and on what streets and when?

  • Carrotflower

    OldFirstWard In the 1840s, Buffalo’s first black community was clustered in the blocks east of Michigan between Broadway and William, around the Michigan Street Baptist Church.

  • Buffalo1985

    I would be fine with that, it’s not the design of the buildings I dislike it’s the layout. Making all these little streets it’s like rain tree island in tonawanda. Why not just use these designs along a restored street grid. They can use the townhouse design in the middle of the blocks with the multi unit ones at each corner. There’s prob enough room to put garages in the back and create an alley running behind as well.

  • 300miles

    Buffalo1985   “Why not just use these designs along a restored street grid. ”
    But isn’t that exactly what this project is doing?    Which streets have not been restored in the rendering?

  • bufguy

    My grandparents lived in Eggertsville and their exchange was PA-later changed to TF3 then 833…My aunt lived on Woodward in Parkside and hers was also PA changed to TF3 /833

  • jim1234664

    Captain Picard I love your snark picard, but lately you’ve been going full retard…

  • Captain Picard

    jim1234664 Captain Picard Well, it was in response to somebody else who used the phrase, “let me introduce you to…” Of course, it has since been deleted, rendering my comment completely retarded. Moral of the story: if you’re too cowardly to leave a comment up, then don’t post it in the first place. It will save the rest of us precious minutes.

  • buffalofalling The death of Central Park Plaza was the end result of a rude, negligent coward who let the property rot for years on end, and yelled at anyone who called him about it, instead of just selling the damn thing to someone who was willing to make an investment.
    It should not have taken a series of court hearings, or an intervention from the state attorney general for something to happen.

  • therealist90s

    i lived in that place from 1991 – 2006 im glad they are
    doing something with it.

  • therealist90s

    North Park
    thought riverside was the west side ?
    i

  • therealist90s

    300miles

    better to own your own home/land ?