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Silo Reuse: Mixed-use Plan Fermenting for Elk Street

A former malt house in The Valley neighborhood has a mixed-use future. Young + Wright Architectural is leading efforts to convert the former Buffalo Malt Group complex into a mix of light industrial, office, and possibly residential space. Silos at 50 Elk Street LLC proposes to renovate 19,055 sq.ft. of space in the masonry buildings on the site. Clean-up of the 1.9 acre site will include off-street parking, greenspace, landscaping, and streetscape improvements.

From the application to the Planning Board:

The building and site have been vacant, and vandalized since the early 1980s, when the Buffalo Malt Group moved out. Recently the building was approved to be placed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings with submission by its new owners. In addition, plans for have been submitted to obtain historic tax credits for the renovation. It is the intent of the owners to showcase the history of this buildings use as the Kreiner and Lehr Malt house from the late 1890’s through 1970, and preserve portions of the building and equipment in this interest.

First-floor space will be used for light industrial and commercial tenants and as a lobby for the rest of the building. The second floor will become the offices of Young + Wright Architectural, LLC currently located at 740 Seneca Street in the nearby Larkin District.

Building renovations will include masonry repair, painting of the concrete silos, new roofs, reinstallation of windows throughout, and the addition of canopies and entranceways.

The Planning Board will consider the project at its January 17 meeting.

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Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • harlan

    Go for it.

  • greenca

    This is iconic Buffalo. Great project.

  • Jeff Brown

    “A former malt house in The Valley neighborhood…”

    I’d never heard of the Valley until I read this article. In case I’m not the only noob who’s wondering:

    “Separated by the tracks, this area became known as The Valley, as the only way in became via bridges over the tracks. Prior to their removal to the area near William and Fillmore Avenue, the northwest corner of The Valley, near the intersection of Elk and Van Rensselaer Streets,
    served as the location of the first stock yards in the city.” (Via South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce website)

    • Ivan Putski Jr

      then Little Hollywood probably doesn’t mean anything to you either

    • Joe

      Do you even live in the area? Or under a rock? This is a well known section of the city, similar to the Ward.

      • greenca

        Unless you grew up in the city or had friends who lived in the city, chances are you never heard of the Valley. The OFW was the more common moniker for this general area of the city. (And what is Little Hollywood? I never once heard of that.)

        • eagercolin

          The entire historically Irish section of town is a mystery to the rest of the city. i had a guy ask me once if South Buffalo had paved roads.

          • greenca

            Many think the OFW is a part of South Buffalo. South Buffalo wasn’t a mystery, it was known as a place where you were an outsider unless you were in a family that lived there for generations.

        • OldFirstWard

          A lot of people never heard of the Valley, especially millennials, who for the most part, would probably never even known about the Larkin area before the renovations. Older people and locals are well aware of its existence.

          Little Hollywood is tucked between Seneca St. and the 190 Thruway along Smith St. There is nothing in there but houses and maybe a business or two. The only time I’ve ever been in there was to cop a bag of weed with a friend when we were teens. It was garbage anyways.

          • Joe

            I’m a millennial and know all of these locations, and no I did not grow in any of them.

          • Ivan Putski Jr

            the Thai stick from the Valley was legend

      • Jeff Brown

        They didn’t ask it on the entrance exam when I moved here six years ago, so I didn’t study that part.

        Fortunately for those of us who do like learning more about our adopted home, this city is full of helpful folks like yourself who appreciate and nurture our interest.

  • Kevin Ryan

    cool!

  • 16th street

    I’ve had a hard on for this place for years, and was crushed when it was on the Inrem last year, and sold for I believe $10k, which is a total steal. I wish I was in a position to snag it but man, glad to see it fall into good hands.

    • MWood

      I drove by it on a daily basis last year when I had a job over that way, Couldn’t help but imagining a climbing gym in those towers

  • UrbanLove

    yes to this. would be cool, when/if the need arises, to see a really modern (all glass?) structure added on to this.

    • Matthew Moje

      that would be really cool

  • Flyguy2pt0

    Nice to see this one come around. Nice proposal with some forward thinking vision here.

  • OldFirstWard

    There were some contractors working inside last summer. They cleaned the grass lot surrounding the complex and cut down the ubiquitous sumac trees growing out of the crevices. A dumpster was parked on the south side where a couple entrances were cut into the brick walls for access. It appeared that most of the work was cleanup and possibly some abatement. Then suddenly a few months ago, all work stopped, the openings were closed up and no work has been done since.

    I’ve always had fondness for this elevator as I would see it daily on bus rides to and from school back in the 70’s. I still pass by it daily to this day and always check on it’s condition. I remember quite well when it was last active, with a rail car or two parked on its sidings.

    Extensive water damage has caused the wythes to separate on the tall brick malt house on the east elevation. The elevator portion appears to be in good condition, with the usual missing panels and graffiti on the upper workhouse above the silos. The ventilation ductwork and piping above the malt house is essentially junk but for the most part intact.

  • OldFirstWard

    Though I must admit that I’m kind of ambivalent about the project. On one hand I’m thrilled to see an adaptive reuse and semi-restoration of the complex. On the other hand, I’ve always hoped that this micro elevator/malthouse could be restored back into its intended use. Of course, this plan is the better alternative than seeing it rotting away and destroyed by kids and graffiti attention seekers, or even worse burned somehow.

    It is the perfect size for a small to mid size operator to establish a grain type business which for the other extant elevators in Buffalo, would be an extremely difficult and expensive project for most business startups. This complex provided everything for a prospective operator, a decent size footprint with easy access and a rail line (which would need to be replaced itself), a few silos and a milling building. It is one of the only remaining inland grain elevators not located along the river banks.

  • OldFirstWard

    Though I must admit that I’m kind of ambivalent about the project. On one hand I’m thrilled to see an adaptive reuse and semi-restoration of the complex. On the other hand, I’ve always hoped that this micro elevator/malthouse could be restored back into its intended use. Of course, this plan is the better alternative than seeing it rotting away and destroyed by kids and graffiti attention seekers, or even worse burned somehow.

    It is the perfect size for a small to mid size operator to establish a grain type business which for the other extant elevators in Buffalo, would be an extremely difficult and expensive project for most business startups. This complex provided everything for a prospective operator, a decent size footprint with easy access and a rail line (which would need to be replaced itself), a few silos and a milling building. It is one of the only remaining inland grain elevators not located along the river banks.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/293ae97ba6feaf4f8fa2d4a8cf0c7a4c619183b33ad681f685f71742e81c74d0.jpg

  • JSmith37

    I don’t know if they will get all their needed approvals by the time the Green Code goes into effect in April, but if not then this may be an early example of an adaptive use permit. This is zoned D-IL (light industrial) and while light industrial and professional office uses are allowed by right, residential is not. But because it’s eligible for the National Register, they could apply for an adaptive use permit, which allows historic buildings to be adapted to uses not otherwise allowed in a zone. That would allow the residential use to be combined with the uses allowed by the zone, I believe.

  • The one and only time I went by there was to bypass traffic during the snow storm a few weeks ago.

  • Vandra

    Young + Wright is making a habit of reviving old properties to house their offices. Sounds like this time they are going to own it (at least partially) as well. Great project!

  • Kilgore Trout

    It would be very helpful if the piece of Elk St. that runs parallel to Van Rensselaer was torn up and repaved when this project is done. It’s in terrible shape.