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Highland Park Work to Start This Fall

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.

Highland-Park-LogoThe $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.

concept plan

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.

master plan

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.

housing types

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

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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  • 300miles

    Great to see a developer actually put thought into the site design!  Looks like this project will create a real urban neighborhood that meshes with the existing ones.

  • Not bad. I don’t like nitpicking because this is a needed project, but the parking in the rear just seems out-of-place in contrast to the surrounding neighborhood. Again I think this is a good project but that one aspect might be questionable under the Green Code (not sure though).

  • biniszkiewicz

    This project is a game changer for Main Street. Very encouraging.

  • buffalorr

    Buffaboy–This is not being marketed towards students. The development now under construction off Main & LaSalle is geared towards student housing.

  • buffalorr

    The old Central Park Plaza site is covered with heavy earth moving equipment already at work as seen during last Saturday’s Jane’s Walk of Fillmore/Leroy. WIth a total of 1,000 new housing units that includes 200 units of infill at a cost of over 70 million dollars, it’s the largest private housing development in Buffalo’s history. Pretty amazing.

  • pleased with how the site is divided into blocks that knit it back into the surrounding neighborhood.

  • jvgriffis
  • OldFirstWard

    I saw that last week when I drove through, very massive project.

  • OldFirstWard

    After seeing this it made me wonder, how many active job sites is Ciminelli running as general contractor and how many local people are employed by this company?  Does Ciminelli actually employ any laborers or skilled tradesman, or are they strictly made up of management types. I assume that most of the work is sub-contracted out to other companies and use their workers, which still gives Ciminelli credit for the jobs created category for the project.
    Solar City is under their control and who knows what other projects in the area.

  • BuffaloBoi

    I luv this! I want to live in one of these.

  • buffalorr

    OldFirstWard–I’m surprised it hasn’t recieved more attention. Might be due to it’s somewhat off the beaten path location. One of the Ciminelli’s is renovating the old firehouse at Leroy & Halbert to become their personal residence which to me is a great example of putting your money where your mouth is.

  • Jtown

    I can’t believe that this project is happening. What a huge investment and impressive looking area plan. 
    I rising tide lifts all boats!

  • buffalorr

    OldFirstWard–UB’s new school of medicine is under construction with Ciminelli being the general contractor as well as The Conventus building just across the street among others.

  • Fly Street

    I wish Chalmers could be extended to Main St…

  • OldFirstWard

    This is the type of project that would be a great fit in the Perry Projects corridor or some higher end housing. Not a football stadium with empty parking lots.
    UB and the BMHA were collaborating on a project called the Perry Choice that looked very similar to this. A $624,000 contract was issued by the BMHA to Philadelphia-based Wallace, Roberts & Todd, the architectural firm responsible for Baltimore’s Inner Harbor back in 2012.  What has become of this project?  In March of 2011, HUD even awarded Buffalo a grant of $250,000 to begin preliminary design work for the Choice Project after which a grant of $30 million was available for this and couple other projects. Did the BMHA falter on this or did or was the grant money lose funding?

  • Depending on how this evolves, this could serve as a model for other brownfield projects around the city.

  • pfk67

    OldFirstWard I agree.  What happened?  Similarly what happened to the Cooperage?  Are these projects offline because of a potential stadium?

  • North Park

    OldFirstWard They applied for the HUD funds to complete the project and were denied. They were gong to resubmit again in a couple years maybe?

  • arcmorris

    OldFirstWard The full transformation plan is available from the following link:
    BMHA submitted an Implementation Grant Application in 2014, but did not make it to the list of finalists.  They can re-apply in 2016 if they choose to do so.

  • arcmorris

    300miles Goody Clancy is a very credible urban planning firm.  Kudos to LPCiminelli for going outside the local market for an internationally-recognized master planner.

  • Davvid

    The architecture looks generic and faux historic. 

    The site plan looks fine.