Downtown residential development continues. In fact, there are more residential units underway in and around downtown than at any time since the Lofts @ Elk Terminal brought market-rate luxury apartment living to downtown in 2002.
Thirteen projects are in various stages of construction with a total of 310 units. In addition, seven projects have been completed so far this year with 49 units and developers have announced plans for another 486 units in eight projects. Along with projects announced in prior years that have not yet started, the unit count downtown could nearly double. There have been 1,272 units completed since Lofts @ Elk Terminal came on line.
Evergreen Lofts – 117-145 Cherry Street
The largest project underway is the Evergreen Lofts Supportive Apartments with 56 units available to low- and very low-income individuals and families. The five-story building overlooks the Kensington Expressway and Fruit Belt neighborhood.
The Sinclair – 465 Washington Street
The six-story former Educational Opportunity Center building at 465 Washington Street is getting new life and a new name. Ciminelli Real Estate Corp’s ‘The Sinclair’ will feature 45 apartments plus 7,500 sq.ft. of retail and office space.
Stanton Building – 251 Main Street
Paul Kolkmeyer is converting the Stanton Building located at 251 Main Street into residences and a small amount of office space fronting Main Street. The five-story, circa-1873 building will contain 36 one-bedroom, 1-1/2 bath apartments.
Turner Brothers Lofts – 295-305 Niagara Street
Schneider Development is renovating 295-305 Niagara Street into forty market rate apartments and ground floor commercial space. There will be 32 one-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 804 to 906 sq.ft. and eight two-bedroom units with 1,316 to 1,349 sq.ft. of living space.
Phoenix Brewery – 835 Washington Street
A partnership headed by Sinatra & Company Real Estate is converting a former brewery building into 31 apartments and 3,000 sq.ft. of commercial space. They will be the first luxury apartments within the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
White Building – 298 Main Street
Capitalizing on the residential demand, Kissling Interests is putting 24 apartments in the 7th thru 10th floors of the White Building at 298 Main Street. Two penthouses, each with three-bedrooms and two bathrooms, are being added to the top of the building.
Bosche Building – 916-18 Main Street
Twenty-three apartments and 2,000 sq.ft. of retail space are being created by Greenleaf & Company in the four-story Bosche Building and a three story adjacent building at 916 and 918 Main Street. The properties are located in the Allentown Historic Preservation District at the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
301 Ohio Street
Site work is underway on Ellicott Development’s mixed-use project at 301 Ohio Street along the Buffalo River. The building will have 21 one and two-bedroom apartments on the top three floors, office space on the second floor, and space for two restaurants on the ground level.
Strathman Manor – 481 Franklin Street
Don Gilbert is putting the finishing touches on a dozen studio and one-bedroom apartments in a former union hall at 481 Franklin Street.
Birzon Building – 686 Main Street
Chris Jacobs, John Barry Jr., and Paul Kolkmeyer are converting the Birzon Building at 686 Main Street into a mix of retail, office space, and apartments. 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.
Waterfront Place – 21-51 Ojibwa Circle
Ellicott Development Company has started work on nine new two- and three-bedroom townhouses along Ojibwa Circle in Waterfront Village. This final phase of townhouses in the Waterfront Place development will consist of two buildings- one with two units and a second with seven. Prices for the 2,890 to 3,500 sq.ft. townhouses will be in the $500,000 to $650,000 range.
Immaculate Conc. Rectory – 144 Edward Street
A half dozen apartments and office space are being constructed in the former Immaculate Conception Church rectory at Edward Street and S. Elmwood Avenue. Wayne Bacon is spearheading the restoration project.
5-7 Genesee Street
Though only three units, this project is one of downtown’s most visible. Steve Carmina, Roger Trettel, Steven A. Carmina, and Joe Piccone are renovating the interconnected buildings as residential space with a ground floor restaurant.
Opened This Year
A few projects swung open their doors to renters this year. The largest was James Jerge’s redevelopment of the former Knights of Columbus at 506 Delaware Avenue into 25 upscale apartments. Five apartments were created at 112 Genesee Street above Marble + Rye restaurant. Ellicott Development also opened five units each at 172-176 Franklin Street and 173 Elm Street. The conversion of vacant office space along Main Street continues. Four apartments were brought online at 888 Main Street, three units at 537 Main Street, and two units at 483 Main Street.
There’s more to come. While the number of buildings awaiting redevelopment shrinks, new residential construction is becoming more common.
In what would be the largest market-rate downtown area residential project to date, Mark Trammel is teaming with McGuire Development on the Campus Square project at Ellicott and North streets. An ‘L-shaped,’ six-story building with 152 residential units is the first of several phases to redevelop the circa-1980 townhouse community north of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
A second project in the Medical Campus is nearly as large. The Krog Corp. is planning 150 apartments in the Trico complex. The residential units would be accompanied by an extended-stay hotel and commercial space in the long-vacant site.
Rocco Termini is back downtown with a residential project. This time it is a new build at N. Oak and E. Tupper streets. The 76 micro-apartment units in the Lofts @ 400 project will be geared towards Medical Campus employees and students.
Earlier this month, First Amherst Development announced plans for a 39-unit, four-story apartment building at 19 North Street in the Allentown Historic Preservation District. Also in Allentown, Uniland Development purchased the Nazareth Nursing Home at 291 North Street in April. The developer’s preliminary plan calls for demolition of the building and construction of twenty-four new, two-story townhome style residences in six buildings.
Closer to the Medical Campus, Ellicott Development announced plans for the Our Lady of Lourdes church on Main near Best Street. The circa-1898 church will contain 12 apartments spread across three levels along with ground floor retail or office space.
The owners of Capello Salon & Day Spa are planning three apartments on the second floor of 220 Franklin Street. The salon will be relocating from the nearby Avant early next year and occupy the building’s ground floor.
Filling in one of the last remaining parcels in Waterfront Village, Ciminelli Real Estate is proposing a five-story condominium building with approximately twenty units and ten townhouses for a City-owned site at 240-260 Lakefront Boulevard. Carmina Wood Morris is designing the project.
The upward trend in downtown revitalization continues as young folks and empty nesters have been drawn to a walkable urban environment. There is still a ways to go before downtown becomes a true 24-7 neighborhood however. While small shops are cropping up in the Theater District and 500 block of Main Street, downtown retail remains spotty and sparse. On the other hand, the restaurant boom continues particularly around the 500 block and Ellicott Street.
Surface parking lots downtown are begging for development – some have been ‘shovel ready’ for decades. Converting those lots into residential and mixed-use structures is another key to making downtown a complete neighborhood. While most of the recent development downtown has involved the reuse of historic properties, further development on vacant lots will signal a tipping point where rents justify new construction.
Another key is owner-occupied units. Outside of Waterfront Village, condominiums are rare. In an encouraging sign, half of the units at the Warehouse Lofts conversion on Ellicott Street are reserved with closings starting soon.
Good things are happening. As one prominent architect told me, “2016 is going to be nuts.”