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Big Reveal: Schneider’s Big Plans for Shea’s Seneca

Schneider Development is moving forward with plans to redevelop the Shea’s Seneca property located at 2178 Seneca Street at the intersection of Cazenovia Street. The project includes 21 apartments, a 136-seat theatre and classroom space for Second Generation Theatre Company, and banquet and special events space run by William and Molly Koessler. Eighty-eight on-site parking spaces are proposed to the rear of the building.

The historic structure was originally built in 1929 by famed regional cinema purveyor Michael Shea, who built many iconic movies houses throughout the region, including Shea’s Buffalo in downtown, the Northpark Theatre in North Buffalo, and a handful of others that have been demolished over the years.

While the 2,500 seat Shea’s Seneca theatre was demolished in 1969, the remaining 48,000 sq.ft. commercial structure contains original architectural character including its white terracotta façade, ticket vestibule, and ornate plaster castings adorning the 2 ½ – story barrel vaulted ceiling movie theater lobby– all of which will be restored as part of the $9 million redevelopment.

“It’s a beautiful and historically significant structure across the street from an Olmsted Park,” said Jake Schneider, President of Schneider Development. “The building and the neighborhood have great bones and potential.”

William and Molly Koessler own and operate a handful of other successful banquet and restaurant facilities throughout the city, including the Marquis de Lafayette located in the Lafayette Hotel downtown, Acqua, the Foundry Banquet & Suites on Elmwood, William K’s and the Hatch at the Erie Basin Marina, and Molly’s on Main Street in Fountain Plaza.

The project will also have additional storefront space for neighborhood retail.

“We haven’t started marketing it yet, but will be looking to partner with a coffee shop, bakery, or other interactive neighborhood retail service providers that bring new amenities into the neighborhood,” said Schneider.

Second Generation Theatre Co. plans to bring in teaching artists to provide workshops for local professionals and to establish an educational theatre program for the community. “We were looking for a permanent home where we can continue to build our brand and further expand our production capabilities,” said Kristin Bentley, Executive Director of Second Generation Theatre Company.

Since the building is considered eligible for N.P.S. Historic Designation the project will be following the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Guidelines for Restoration & Rehabilitation. The N.Y.S. and Federal Historic Tax Credit Program will be utilized. N.Y.S.H.P.O and N.P.S. reviews will be required and approvals obtained in regards to the rehabilitation of the building. Preservation Studios is assisting Schneider Development on the tax credit documentation work.

Construction is anticipated to start this Spring and be completed in Spring-Summer 2018. The Planning Board will be reviewing the project on Monday, March 13.

Get Connected: Schneider Development, 716.923.7000

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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  • OldFirstWard

    How big was the footprint of the 2500 seat theatre addition that was demolished? Too bad it couldn’t be rebuilt for the project and the neighborhood. Even if it was done in phases. It would be a fantastic restoration project

    • GatesResident

      It was pretty big, essentially filling the parking lot behind the building. There’s a website called Historic Aerials that allows you to view aerial photos from the past. The old pictures are blurry but you can see the auditorium in the aerial from 1959.

  • BufChester

    “Molly’s on Main Street which just opened this week in Fountain Plaza.” Umm, opened in November or December.

    • TownhouseLLC

      Seems to be fixed

  • Dan

    I remember being taken here as a young’un for school clothes when it was a D&K and thinking it seemed both shabby and fancy at the same time. It’s a nice spot and a fine old building. Hopefully they can make something good of it again.

  • BuffalonianInTX

    Glad to see a project like this in the works. I’ve been hoping for a long time that there would be a resurgence of Seneca St. and the surrounding streets. Now if that would raise the rents in all the rental units around perhaps the crime might go down a bit.

  • TrueStoryBflo

    Looks excellent. Buffalo should be looking forward to this one!