Ellicott Development has been promising reuse of the Our Lady of Lourdes campus at the edge of the Medical Campus and we now know what is in store for the sanctuary. The circa-1898 church near Best Street will contain 12 apartments spread across three levels along with ground floor retail or office space. It is one of three downtown projects seeking funds under the Buffalo Building Reuse Project Loan Program administered by the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC). Also in line for funding is Sinatra & Company’s reuse of the former Phoenix Brewery and Amy Judd’s planned conversion of 510 Washington Street.
In 2009, Ellicott Development purchased the Our Lady of Lourdes convent and school from Prayer & Praise Fellowships Inc. for $370,000. One year later the company bought the adjacent church that was closed in 1993. Ellicott has also been buying and demolishing residential properties on St. Paul Mall and last year tore down the rectory and school. Ellicott officials have not detailed their plans for the balance of the properties but a “multi-phased mixed-use development” is envisioned.
Ellicott Development has previous church conversion experience. It converted the circa-1899 First Baptist Church at nearby 14 North Street into 11 apartments. It also has plans a mix of uses in the former Buffalo Christian Center at 512 Pearl Street in the Theater District.
Judd is planning 13 apartments in the seven-story building at 510 Washington Street. The circa-1920 building is the tallest building in the critical 500 Block of Main Street that has seen a wave of reuse projects in the last five or so years including new apartments, restaurants, commercial space, and even owner-occupied residences. It is a former Loew’s Theatre Company warehouse.
On the Medical Campus, a development team led by Sinatra & Company is planning 30 apartments for the Phoenix Brewery complex at Washington and Virginia streets. The four-story building was constructed in 1887 and designed by Otto Wolf.
BUDC’s Downtown Committee recommended the projects be approved.
“It’s a two-step process for approval,” explained Brandye Merriweather, BUDC’s downtown development coordinator and manager. “The Downtown Committee reviews the projects and makes recommendations to the full board. After board approval, the projects move to underwriting to get the financials in order before returning to board for final approvals.” The full board meets May 26.
Projects are evaluated based on financial information, developer expertise, and the alignment with the criteria established by the BBRP and the Queen City Hub Plan:
• Project readiness
• Reduction of existing office vacancies
• Addition of new residential units
• Proximity to existing residential clusters
• Adaptive and historic reuse
• First floor retail
• Builds upon recent public and private investments
• Net new downtown growth