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Construction Watch: Two Buildings Coming Back to Life

Construction season is underway downtown bringing new uses to two historic buildings.  Days after obtaining approvals to convert the Education Opportunity Center at 465 Washington Street to retail and residential space, Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation has started gutting the building.  In the Theater District, crews are working on the redevelopment of the Birzon Building into commercial and residential space.  When the work is done, downtown will have 57 new apartments along with new retail and office space.


The six-story former Educational Opportunity Center was completed in 1930. Ciminelli purchased the property in December and is planning 45 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments plus ground floor retail and office space.  Chaintreuil | Jensen | Stark Architects is designing the project and Preservation Studios is working on obtaining historic preservation tax credits.


In the Theater District, Chris Jacobs, John Barry, and Paul Kolkmeyer are converting the Birzon Building at 686 Main Street into a mix of retail, office and apartments.  The building will provide expansion space for PLS 3rd Learning, one of the anchor tenants in Jacobs’ 678 Main Street that he redeveloped next door.  The buildings will be connected when work is complete.  PLS 3rd Learning is taking nearly 10,000 sq.ft. of space on the second floor.

The building fronts the light rail tunnel entrance ramp in the Theater District and features highly-detailed, white glazed terra cotta.  It extends to Pearl Street shown here.  There will be retail and restaurant space on the ground floor, indoor parking, office space on the second floor, and twelve one and two-bedroom apartments on the third level.

686 Main Street was constructed in 1901 by George N. Pierce Company, a bicycle manufacturer that later sold automobiles.  Mendleson Furniture occupied the building for forty years starting in 1930.  Jeweler Sid Birzon, the building’s last occupant, moved to Niagara Falls Boulevard in 2004.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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