A year after calling for a downtown grocery store on a City-owned parking lot downtown, Mayor Brown has announced the selection of Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. as the winning developer for the site. Ciminelli is working with Tops to anchor the project with a 20,000 sq.ft. market that will also include residential and commercial space. The design shown today is preliminary and is expected to evolve as the project comes into greater focus. The 2.54 acre site is one of downtown’s largest surface parking lots.
The Ciminelli project will help tie together the residential and restaurant resurgence along Ellicott Street north of the site and ECC and Coca Cola Field to the south. Neighboring blocks have seen substantial investment such as the mixed-use Hotel @ the Lafayette that includes 115 apartments and 40 hotel rooms, the 30-unit Historic Warehouse Lofts that is being converted to condos with over half sold, the 48-unit AM&A’s Warehouse Lofts, the Planing Mill with 22 units on Elm Street, the redeveloped Tishman Building with 18 apartments and a 123-room Hilton Garden Inn, Historic Buehl Block with five apartments, The Sinclair on Washington Street with 45 units, AC Lofts on Elm Street with 91 units, and the planned reuse of the AM&A’s Department Store with 300 hotel rooms and six apartments.
The Request for Proposals was issued last May seeking proposals for a mix of residential space, parking, and a grocery store. The RFP was converted to a Request for Qualifications in June after Erie Community College expressed an interest in taking some space in any future development of the site. The City anticipated selected a winning developer in September but that was pushed into late fall. Further delays only heightened the anticipation towards today’s announcement.
Ciminelli officials have yet to discuss the project with Erie Community College. ECC is said to be looking for a new site for its Workforce Development Center and has expressed an interest in providing student housing close to campus.
The parking lot currently provides 380 spaces and is managed by Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps. A majority of the spaces are reserved monthly by tenants of the Hotel @ the Lafayette and M&T Bank employees.