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Game-Changing Project Aired for Jefferson Avenue

A two-building, mixed-use development for Jefferson Avenue in the Masten District was given a favorable review by the Planning Board yesterday, though formal action was not taken.   Sinatra & Company Real Estate, Creative Structures Services, People Inc. and Bellamy Enterprises are teaming up on the $21 million project with Long Associates Architects providing the building designs and site plan coordination.

Each three-story building will contain a mix of affordable and market-rate residential units and commercial space, bringing residents and new businesses to the Jefferson Avenue corridor. They will be located on the west side of Jefferson Avenue, taking up two blocks, bounded on the South by Dodge Street and at the North by Northampton Street.

Both sites offer ample green space and opportunity for strengthened community ties through the integrated patios, allowing residents ample opportunity to interact with the neighborhood. Each building features a distinct look and feel in regards to shape and form, while being tied together through use of similar color schemes and materials.

1140 Jefferson
Directly north to the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, the contemporary buff brick façade of the south building contains details in a warm red paneling (above). The southernmost half of the building features retail space on the first floor.

The design relies on the randomly applied residential patios, which give each area of the building a unique feel, whilst maintaining a consistent design aesthetic. In addition, the ground-floor residential patios at the northern side of the building take advantage of the site’s natural slope, creating a buffer between the sidewalk and the patio floor.

1166 Jefferson
The north building, in contrast, takes on a more traditional appearance, inspired by the main entry gates from the old War Memorial Stadium. This building opts for red brick with buff accent quoins, as well as metal paneling to break up the façade.  Stressing order, the patios occur regularly between column arches for a symmetrical build-out. The commercial spaces take up the majority of the ground floor, with a center entry designated for the residential portion.

There will be a total of eighty-four one and two-bedroom apartment units. The apartments will be marketed as mixed-income units with tenant incomes ranging from $15,000 to approximately $75,000.  Every unit will contain a balcony or patio.

The project will also include approximately 23,000 sq.ft. of flexible first floor commercial space.

“Our intention is not to bring in suburban stores but to provide space for locally-owned businesses that will provide an amenity to the building and community,” said Sinatra & Company Real Estate president Nick Sinatra.

“The development is mixed-use and mixed-income,” said David Pawlik, president of Creative Structures Services, Inc.  “The area is ready for it.  There have been other recently completed projects along Jefferson laying the groundwork for us.  Our market analysis demonstrated a need for not only affordable, quality housing, but workforce housing.  The site is close to the Medical Campus which is already driving housing demand in the area.”

There will be a community room with kitchenette at the main level of each building, centered at the rear courtyards which abut generous green space. Trash rooms with valet trash service, a staff office, onsite laundry facilities, and exercise rooms will also be provided at each building. Both buildings feature facade space for murals (below).

“The Buffalo Arts Commission is working with the community to design the murals,” said Pawlik.

The project received unanimous support from the Planning Board members saying it will “positively change the look of Jefferson Avenue” and a “poster child for future projects.”  The Board could not take action to approve the project until it is reviewed by the Zoning Board however.  Pawlik says the community has embraced the development as well.

“I see it as a catalyst to attract other investment into the neighborhood and along Jefferson Avenue,” said Sinatra. “It is big enough on a scale size to attract others and could be a game changer. It is important that this project has a good outcome because it could be a model for development elsewhere on the east side.”

Work on the project is expected to begin this summer with completion in mid-2018. CSS Construction will serve as general contractor.

“The Medical Campus is the biggest economic driver in Western New York right now,” said Sinatra. “New development can only go two ways- east or north. The city is hot right now, taxes are low, and it is a great time to be investing. There’s also one place with land available to build new. It’s the east side.”

“We are really excited about the positive impacts this will have on the community,” added Pawlik.  “It’s a game-changer.”

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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  • BeatHarvard

    Nice project, great to see. I have to say though… “tenant incomes ranging from $15,000 to $75,000” is SOME range. That spans from people living in poverty to Buffalo’s upper middle-class. Somewhat shocking that a single project is expected to accommodate such disparate income levels. Interested to see how this pans out.

    • jonny99

      Studies have shown that it is usually not the best practice to segregate housing by income (all high or all low income). For best long term success of a neighborhood it is best to find a healthy mix.

      • Josh Robinson

        I think the better question is will they actually get any higher-income tenants? I agree that mixed income developments are the best for stable neighborhoods, but people making $75,000 tend to self-segregate.

        • eagercolin

          When they’re white, yes. But there’s a long tradition of middle class and affluent black folks sticking around neighborhoods that their white counterparts would have abandoned.

  • millertime486

    84 new units and no parking!! This is going to ruin the neighborhood.

    All kidding aside this is a great project for the area.

    • David Pastor

      Its already ruined.

  • Alex Morris

    The 5th image from the top (balcony view), shows how important it will be for the City to do a streetscape upgrade along these two blocks of Jefferson coordinated with this project. I hope Sinatra and CSS are lobbying the City hard for it as we speak!

  • Doug Wallis

    should be 4-5 stories other than that its a good thing for the eastside.

  • JSmith37

    It was not formally approved; it was tabled, pending variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The maximum lot width that the zoning code allows here is 150′. This is 284′, a very substantial area variance, and it’s uncertain as to whether it is legally appropriate to grant such a substantial variance from the new zoning code.

    I like this project overall, but I think they should split it into multiple buildings in conformance with the code. Smaller buildings are much easier to reuse and promote a more walkable and interesting street.

    Millertime, I know you were joking, but there’s plenty of parking in this project, I think 96 spaces.

    • John

      it’s an (at least partially) publicly funded project. split one building and that adds one more elevator. split both and that’s two more elevators by ADA code. that’s just one additional cost that comes with splitting buildings, reducing if not eliminating the funding chances. in order to attain funding, project is aimed at the apt. numbers, i’m sure. so, they can’t reduce that to reach costs, because that lowers ROI. can’t go up more stories than already presented because of current zoning. so it’s go long rather than tall – much harder to get a variance on height than length. plus, shorter is better in terms of life safety and fitting in with the scale of the neighborhood.

      personally, i wouldn’t mind seeing multiple buildings in a similar style on each site, but i’d rather have them get funded for two nice big buildings than to get denied funding and we just get some drawings of four smaller buildings.

      • 300miles

        “much harder to get a variance on height than length”
        how so?

        • John

          I don’t know if I can answer “how so” but in terms of why, I hinted at it in my original comment: taller buildings tend to have a hostile nature in residential neighborhoods; and planners, etc. would typically like to see buildings that don’t introduce a foreboding presence in terms of vertical scale. Also, variances get granted based on a feasibility argument as well. Far more feasible to build a single short building than two (or four, if we are considering both blocks) taller buildings with separate, more expensive elevators (elevators cost more with additional floor stops).

      • LongGoneeee

        Get out of here with these logical considerations to the cost of private development in the COB. Please don’t bring any thoughts of ROI on the project to the conversation.


    • David Pastor

      Not all that familiar with the green code but it sounds perhaps overly restrictive ?

      • harlan

        It is

      • JSmith37

        Not at all. 150′ is a very wide lot for a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood street.

        Note that there there is NO maximum lot/building width in N-1D and N-1C (downtown and surrounding areas).

  • No_Illusions

    Just down the street from Tops and one of the nicer Buffalo libraries.

    Just a short drive or brisk walk to the Medical Campus.

  • greenca

    This is one of the projects that the Elmwood people are trying to block. From a post of the Residents of Elmwood Village FB group:

    “Two important variances will be considered at Wednesday’s Zoning Board meeting. One is for a commercial parking lot in the heart of the Elmwood Village (not a permitted use under the Green Code), and the other is for a building on Jefferson Ave. that will be 130′ longer than what is allowed under the code (similar to what Ciminelli is requesting for Reverie). These are the first tests of the Green Code and will set a precedent for future projects. Please speak out to ensure that the Green Code is enforced—these are substantial variances and they must be rejected!”

    This is why these people are so annoying. Yes the parking lot should be denied a variance. This Jefferson Ave project? No way! But of course the Very Special EV people want to force their myopic views upon the rest of the city, and I’m sure they’ll be at the ZBA meeting tomorrow impassionately wailing about this project not being allowed on Jefferson Ave.

    • eagercolin

      This is just more proof of how EV types are so diverse (despite being all white). Despite living in an artsy and gritty idyll of a village on one side of Main street, their concerns extend across that barrier to the dark, scary, rhythmic and better-at-sports sections of the city, too! Oh if only we had more high minded gems like them!

      • armyof100clowns

        Believe me, when I read crap like that which greenca quotes from FB, it embarrasses me to admit I own and live in the EV. What a bunch of backward busybodies . . .

    • OldFirstWard

      “The development is mixed-use and mixed-income,”

      That cocktail is not conducive to a safe and productive environment. These grouping of buildings resemble a prison cell block and modified projects. This script has played out many times before, the grandma’s rent the apartment and the grandsons start to arrive with friends.

      Successful housing on the east side is not in project-like apartment buildings, but single homes. Home ownership works, low income rentals are risky at best.

    • JSmith37

      Nobody is forcing “their views” on anyone. They are asking that the zoning code (seven years in the making) be enforced.

      • John

        But they are codes, not laws. Codes allow for variances because of the recognition that not all circumstances require the same guidelines. EV and Masten are false equivalents – very different neighborhoods with potentially variable guiding principles. So, the ZBA had the authority to recognize these idiosyncrasies between neighborhoods, and hopefully they can decide by reason and not by mob rule. And if they do decide based on neighborhood desires, hopefully they take into account the people of this project’s community, who have expressed support, rather than those from EV, who seem to want the city to maintain a homogenous personality throughout rather than to celebrate difference, progress and tradition all at once.

      • Johnny Pizza

        The new code limits buildings to 3 stories in a city.
        The new code is shyt. Repeal and replace.

        • 300miles

          You hopefully understand that “a city” has very distinct areas – residential, mixed use, commercial, industrial – that would have different zoning restrictions.

          Just because it is “a city” doesn’t mean a 50-story office building, or a sprawling factory would be appropriate next to a residential street. There are naturally going to be zoning rules to control those sorts of things.

          And for you to say something you never fully read is “shyt”, and to demand it being repealed when you never even bothered to be involved in the very time-consuming process that involved countless public meetings to explain the plan and get public feedback, sounds like a whole lot of ignorance and laziness on your part.

      • eagercolin

        I’m gonna guess the green code reflects the views of EV types more than those of any other part of the city.

  • It’s about time a project of this caliber lands somewhere on the East Side.

    Now if the street can be activated and pockmarked lots filled in.

  • S Mills

    The one building looks OK, the other awful. Whatever, it’s just new age low income housing.

    • Texpat

      That is exactly what I thought when I saw it.

    • greenca

      Which one is OK and which one is awful?

      • S Mills

        1140 Jefferson screams low-rise housing project.

  • Josh Robinson

    I’ve seen some criticism on social, but I think this looks like a great housing project and lightyears ahead the vinyl mansions that have been sprouting up along Jefferson, or the architectural mish-mash of the Bellamy Commons further up the street.

    Is the only trouble that the lot width is too wide for what is allowed under the Green Code? I’m sure nobody wants to set the precedent of handing out variances like candy, but this seems like the kind of built-to-the-curb urban form that the GC was supposed to encourage in the first place.

  • Doug Wallis

    I think Jefferson, Best Michigan and Fillmore are the streets to watch. Jefferson in particular because its a corridor between Canisius, Sisters Hospital and the Life Sciences Campus. Best because its the eastern gateway from the Kensington. Michigan because its a connector between the Life Sciences Campus and the Larkin District. Fillmore because it is also a connector via the Central Terminal.

    The gentrification of the Masten District will grow north to Canisius and east to the Kensington reaching Fillmore and potential the Central Terminal. The Life Sciences District will grow east to the Kensington and Michigan and south towards downtown Library. That’s my prediction. I can understand why this got rubber stamped. It will increase property values and stabilize Jefferson Ave BUT 3 STORIES IS TO SHORT AND IT LACKS AN INVITING WARMTH AND CHARM. ITS COLD AND BLAND AND LOOKS LIKE UPGRADED LOW INCOME HOUSING. CERTAINLY DEVELOPERS CAN COME UP WITH SOMETHNG BETTER THAN THIS TO ANCHOR THE RESIDENTIAL/RETAIL GROWTH OF THIS CORRIDOR. I’m not saying it has to be period. I’m not saying it has to be contemporary or modern. If done wrong they can all look cold cheap and in-inviting. That’s what this looks like but I suppose if you live on the eastside and are used to old in-maintained houses and low income municipal housing then would look good to you. It might even attract Canisius Students being so close to Fosdyk Fields and Humboldt Park since students are getting priced out of EV and Delaware Park.

  • Mr. B

    When I read the headline I got excited, but I thought it was about something else.

    This project is great, but does anybody know anything about the project (Gateway Commons) that’s supposed to happen on Jefferson and Best at the south end of the Wiley Sports Complex?

    I pass by the sign for it that says “coming soon” often, but that sign looks like its been there for some time . . .


    • Cvepo

      My mom worked at Makowski in the early 2000s, and I always remember going through that intersection/area in the summer to help her set up her classroom. Maybe I’ve fallen into some alternate universe, but I swear that sign was there like 10-15 years ago too. Something tells me that project doesn’t exist anymore.

  • Wally Balls

    Once you start mixing incomes, you start causing problems. The rents for these apartments need to be set north of $1000 and go up from there.

    • BlackRockLifer

      Nonsense, mixed income neighborhoods are by far the most viable and dynamic. Most solid old city neignorhoods were once mixed income until racism and classism resulted in people choosing to self isolate.

      • Wally Balls

        Racism existed long before there were neighborhoods. Mixing the have and have nots doesn’t create group dynamics. It just creates broken car windows.

        • BlackRockLifer

          Again, nonsense, when I was growing up in Black Rock in the 1960’s the neighborhood was home to people of all incomes. There were doctors, lawyers, business owners, teachers, factory workers and every other type of occupation. The neighborhood was vibrant and everyone got along just fine.

          • Wally Balls

            Everything you spew is nonsense — the ironic part is the way you just described your old neighborhood sounds like you want to make it great again? Weird. Fact is, you’re wrong — as per usual. In the 1960’s, people in your neighborhood got a long not because they were all different, but because they had something that you lack — decency and respect for other peoples things. I don’t distrust because I’ve been isolated. I distrust because I lived in a crappy neighborhood that was supposedly on the upswing and my car was broken into, as were 15 others. I currently live in an extremely isolated 99% white neighborhood. You know what never happens? People stealing my stuff because they have the opportunity. If Black Rock was so great, it wouldn’t be inhabited by one old man who clearly resembles Crankshaft, a couple hundred refugees and bearded hipsters.

          • BlackRockLifer

            Your ignorance is astounding, Black Rock has always been an immigrant neighborhood, I grew up around people from all different places and cultures.
            To this day Black Rock is a diverse neighborhood that continues to attract immigrants. Funny how you equate 99% white with less crime, racist much? BTW, I have never had any trouble in all the years I have lived in Black Rock and I am out and about in the neighborhood all the time.
            Finally just like Trump you are quick to make unfounded accusations and you display a lack of any real knowledge of history or neighborhood dynamics. You might want to consider posting on WIVB or some other lightweight site, you are clearly over your head here.

          • Wally Balls

            Statistics don’t make a person racist. Numbers are what they are. Unless you’re that stupid — which, judging by every reply you’ve ever made to me old man, you are. Myopic much? If the East Side were predominantly white and still had the highest crime rate in WNY, then you’d have a leg to stand on. Unfortunately, you’re just a silly old man who thinks “everyone should just get along.” You should probably put down your Apple IIE and go back to San Francisco and hand out daisies to everyone, because you’re apparently to daft to understand crime and who causes it. Or, you just think ignoring statistics and pointing a finger at the guy who’s not afraid to tell the truth some how helps you seem more “sensitive.” Either way, move along.

            (Insert reply here about how things used to be, how great Black Rock is and some other generic finger pointing liberal horse pucky)

          • BlackRockLifer

            You truly haven’t got a clue and you are clearly a racist fool. I am sure the other 7th graders think you are clever but this forum is for grown ups, your comments here are by far the dumbest and most juvenile.
            You are a coward and a bully and you lack any real knowledge as is clear by your ridiculous claims. You also resort to hurling unfounded insults whenever challenged by those of us with facts and real life experience, again very Trump like. You are a troll, nothing more, most on this forum engage in intelligent debate and add substance to the conversation, your presence only detracts from and diminishes the debate.

          • Wally Balls

            You never engage in intelligent anything. Typical liberal, when faced with actual truths — like where crime happens and whom lives there, you tuck your tale between your liberal legs and commit to changing the subject towards insults, name-calling and deflection. No conversation with you is a debate, because you’re a petulant child, despite your age. Call yourself a grown up if it makes you feel better about yourself, but you are the furthest thing from one. I’ve seen 6 year olds who are smart enough to know that if crime and criminals exist in a certain area, don’t be there. Old fool.

  • Me

    F-U-G-L-Y, Fugly.

  • David Pastor

    its too tall , too many windows, too wide, too much color, too many toilets, too far from the curb, too expensive, rents too high, too much of a environmental impact, its just too much.

  • Todd Chapple

    These are nice designs, and great infill projects for these viable parcels, but at second glance, both buildings should have 2 more stories added to them!