Surgeon and property investor/developer Fadi Dagher sees potential in the Broadway/Fillmore neighborhood. LP Ciminelli has set its sights on the Fillmore-Leroy area with its Highland Park development. Both the City and State see potential in the Northland Corridor. McGuire Development’s Compass East project on Michigan Avenue is filling with tenants and workers. Burke Homes is building market rate houses in Sycamore Village not far from new public housing on scattered sites in the A.D. Price rebuilding project.
The start of an eastward development trend? The projects are scattered but it’s safe to say there is more now happening on the ‘east side’ than in the past twenty or more years.
With the apartment market hot, and fewer potential redevelopment candidates available downtown and elsewhere, developers have broadened their search. Rocco Termini has spent much of the last three years focused on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo with three reuse projects. Developers have headed to the Larkin District, upper Main Street, and Ohio Street.
Others are eyeing the east side. Evergreen Health Services and HELP USA are redeveloping historic properties on Cherry Street and Broadway respectively. Community Action Organization has plans for 72 new houses on the former Deaconess Hospital site. The former School 59 at 769 Best Street is also going residential. Parkview Apartments will contain 26 units in the four-story school located at the southeast corner of Fillmore Avenue and Best Street.
Earlier this year, Fadi Dagher purchased the vacant K-Mart at 998 Broadway for redevelopment as a charter school and is buying the Eckhardt Building at the corner of Broadway and Fillmore. A few years ago, Eran Epstein opened 43 senior apartments in a rehabbed building at 937 Broadway.
To the south, the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation just put out a request for proposals to seek one or more developers for the historic complex. Though proposals aren’t due until May, sources say there has been substantial early interest in the site.
At least two developers have projects in the works on the east side, one in Midtown east of Main Street and a second along Genesee Street.
Architect/developer Jake Schneider has taken a look as well. He tells Mike Puma in this month’s Spree, “We’re not afraid of new neighborhoods and have looked at the East Side among other areas. I think a lot of people are beginning to look there for opportunities.”
“We’ve toyed with the idea of moving into the heart of the East Side to get something going, but we’re still very focused on downtown. If the right place were to be found, it would be possible to do market-rate apartments over there,” said Schneider.
The largest project planned on the east side also has the biggest potential to change the dynamics of its neighborhood. LP Ciminelli’s $70 million Highland Park project will bring up to 600 new mixed-income rental units to the 27-acre Central Park Plaza site. New roads are planned to tie the site into adjacent blocks where the City hopes to attract additional investment.
While many of the current projects are non-profit or public sector-driven, they send a message and lay the groundwork for others to follow. The social and economic needs on the east side are vast, but so is the potential.