Infrastructure work on the Highland Park project is expected to be underway in September with the first residential units following early next year. LPCiminelli is leading a team consisting of Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation, Stieglitz Snyder Architecture, Wendel, and Boston-based planning firm Goody Clancy on the project that will see 663 rental units and a small amount of commercial space built over the next six years.
The $70 million ‘Highland Park,’ the historical name for this area of the Fillmore/Leroy neighborhood, will contain new mixed-income rental units, new roads to tie the 27-acre site into adjacent neighborhoods, and parks. Louis P. Ciminelli bought the 27-acre Central Park Plaza site for $800,000 in 2012.
Highland Park is anticipated to have 663 residential units, with a mix of apartments, walk-up flats and townhouses. Eighty percent of the units will be market-rate and the balance will be income-restricted affordable. It will also introduce a wide range of housing choices, including lofts and senior housing, to the area. The actual number and mix of unit types will depend upon market conditions, but the site could contain up to a maximum of 800 new residential rental units.
Due to the site being a former quarry and filled in starting in the late-1940s, an environmental cleanup was undertaken. LPCiminelli voluntarily entered into the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. Remedial work included the removal of approximately 736,000 square feet of existing asphalt and sub-base material and the implementation of a site cover system that will permanently prevent any exposure to any remaining contaminants at the site. Due to the ongoing monitoring required for the property and the brownfield tax credits obtained, Ciminelli will retain ownership of the project and the constructed units will be rentals.
Build-out will occur in three phases starting with 229 units in the first phase centered along Chalmers Avenue that is expected to be under construction early next year. That will be followed by 306 units in a second phase and 128 units in the final phase.
Based on market conditions, future development phases may be altered to modify unit sizes or the total number of units per building, but maximum build-out is not expected to exceed 800 units.
John Ciminelli, Senior Vice President at LPCiminelli told the Planning Board last month, “The plan is flexible to change the unit mix based on demand.”
Measuring up to 50 feet in height, the proposed four-story apartment buildings will be the tallest structures on the site. The two and three-bedroom townhouse structures will achieve a height of approximately 33 feet. The three-story walkup flats will fall in between, measuring approximately 41 feet in height. The buildings will be situated in a graduated layout, with the taller, four-story structures located toward the center of the site and the three-story walk up flats, and two and three-bedroom townhouses designed around the outside in an effort to transition the view from surrounding areas.
The master plan purposely limits the amount of commercial space within the project. The only non-residential development proposed is a day care center or possibly a small grocery. For environmental review purposes, a maximum of 10,000 square feet of non-residential development is proposed for the project, and the actual amount of commercial development is likely to be less. Areas along Fillmore Avenue and at Main and Amherst streets are identified as appropriate locations for new commercial development outside of the project area.
The planning work extends beyond the Central Park Plaza site. Highland Park will be coordinated with the City of Buffalo’s intention to redevelop vacant lands along the south side of Chalmers Avenue, west of Holden Street. For the purposes of the environmental review now underway for the project, this area has been shown as additional residential housing, consisting of a mix of walk-up flats and townhouses. LPCiminelli does not own these parcels and has no control over their future redevelopment however.
LPCiminelli is also 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 new owner-occupied single-family homes are possible.
“That’s where the homeownership opportunity will be,” said Ciminelli.
The project will include a new network of public streets cutting through the existing superblock and creating block sizes more consistent with the surrounding neighborhood. Chalmers Avenue will be extended east through the site as a boulevard with a landscaped median. Additional east-west and north-south thoroughfares will be constructed through the site, connecting to existing streets.
Hill Street, which traditionally was not well-defined through the former plaza site, would be designed as a major axis of the street design, and there will be a traffic circle at the intersection of the Chalmers Avenue extension and Hill Street. Wade Avenue, which currently dead ends at Holden Street, will be extended eastward to provide a connection to Manhattan Avenue.
The new streets will have the character of a neighborhood street, with sidewalks, on-street parking and street trees. A small pocket park is proposed at the northeast corner of the site. The buildings will be built near the street and the proposed parking lots will be located at the rear of the buildings.
The goal of the Highland Park project is to provide an attractive, walkable and sustainable community that allows residents housing and transportation choices that support a convenient, affordable and pleasant neighborhood. While the site is approximately one-quarter mile from the Amherst Street light rail station, LPCiminelli is working with the NFTA to further strengthen transit connections to the new neighborhood.
The #32 Amherst bus line as well as the #23 Fillmore-Hertel bus line currently serve the project site. Ultimately, LPCiminelli hopes both of these bus lines will be rerouted more directly through the property. Discussions are underway with the NFTA to divert the lines through the site and establishing shelter locations within the project. The project team is also looking at the feasibility of providing real-time bus arrival information at the bus shelters and possible elsewhere throughout the neighborhood.
Ciminelli will be seeking Planning Board approvals for Highland Park this summer. The firm will also need approvals for each phase as build out progresses.
Get Connected: LP Ciminelli, 716.855.1200