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Ciminelli Scales Down Elmwood Plans

Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation is heading to the Preservation Board tomorrow to seek a recommendation on the multiple demolitions needed to construct its mixed-use project at Elmwood and Potomac avenues. Prior to the meeting, Ciminelli has unveiled revised, scaled down plans. The proposed Arbor + Reverie development will consist of two buildings, linked together by pedestrian walkways.

The proposed project calls for demolition of 721 Ashland, 1006-1028 Elmwood Avenue, 583 and 584 Potomac Avenue, and partial demolition of 976 and 982 Elmwood. The properties along Elmwood require Common Council approval for demolition to proceed while the others do not. The project has been given a lukewarm welcome by neighbors.

The Buffalo News has the rundown:

The project has sparked controversy in part because the developer plans to replace 2 1/2- and three-story buildings with taller structures. That would exceed the Green Code’s three-story height limit, with some fearing it would threaten the Elmwood strip’s charm and sense of scale.

Dennis Penman, a Ciminelli vice president, said the company has proceeded with the expectation the Green Code would pass.

“This is not an end around the Green Code,” Penman said. “We are following city and state processes for project redevelopment, and everything is being done as consistent with the Green Code as possible.”

Penman said he thought the project was “more than 90 percent compliant” with the new zoning code. Remedies in the code, such as variances for height, are there purposely to address a project’s needs, he said.

Ciminelli has tweaked its plans since unveiling the project in November. The façade of the Arbor building at Elmwood and Bidwell has been simplified, notably the projecting balconies on the south side of the building have been jettisoned.

Previous (L)  and Revised Design

The Reverie building to the north has shrunk from five floors to four:

Previous (L)  and Revised Design

The residential spaces at Arbor + Reverie will be a mix of rental units and for-sale condominiums. The project also includes restoration of the former Sunday Skateshop location at 587 Potomac Avenue and a new building at 721 Ashland Avenue will contain apartments (below).

“Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation has been gathering robust public feedback on Arbor + Reverie for more than 14 months now. They’ve undergone an extensive community outreach process, and through that the project has continued to positively evolve,” said Adam Walters, Partner, Phillips Lytle LLP.

“For example, the team met with the preservation community early on in the planning process, which informed Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation’s decision to save and rehabilitate the Skateshop building and save the facade of the historic storefronts between Bidwell and Potomac Avenues. Outreach such as this will continue as the project moves forward,” said Walters.

“The City of Buffalo spent a significant amount of time advancing the Green Code, and the result is tremendous. With every step in planning this project, we’ve had the Green Code in mind. As the Green Code process has evolved, so too has the Arbor + Reverie project, which is now top-line compliant with the new code,” said Walters. “Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation is following the typical process of filing for site review and going before the Preservation Board for a consultation and to present the project. These are the standard steps that we’ve anticipated and planned for and are directly in line with the Green Code.”

HHL Architects is designing the project.  The Preservation Board meets at 3:00 PM in Room 901, City Hall.

Note: This post was edited to add quotes from Adam Walters and the images above.

Written by Buffalo Rising

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