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There is Hope for the Cooperage

Ellicott Development has set its sights on the forlorn Cooperage Building. The development company has the Chicago Street property under contract according to Buffalo Business First.  Apartments and commercial space are planned and Ellicott officials say they will be “respectful of the building” and work could start late this year.

The E.B. Holmes Machinery Company Building at 55-59 Chicago Street sits in shambles despite new development taking root on nearby properties. The Cooperage complex seemed to have a bright future in 2005 when the site was purchased by Newark Niagara LLC, headed by preservation architect Clinton Brown, for $30,000. In 2008, Brown announced a reuse strategy for the property and went to work on development plans.

The E. & B. Holmes Machinery Company Building is a roughly rectangular building composed of three primary sections of four-, three- and two-stories, which encircle a central courtyard. These segments of the building reflect the various additions and changes which the building underwent throughout its 150 year history. Holmes was known for its woodworking machines, including those involved in barrel making.

Clinton Brown’s $6.6 million Cooperage plan called for 22 market-rate, live-work lofts as well as two or three commercial retail spaces. The complex has been vacant since 2001 and time and weather had taken a toll on the property.

The oldest portion of the building, known as the Mill Building (c.1870s), is a four-story rectangular brick structure. Two, three and four-story additions were added on over time. The Mill Building suffered a partial collapse to the eastern wall of the structure in 2007. This eastern wall now lies in ruin, along with portions of the northwestern corner and the fourth floor.

Ellicott Development recently opened 21 residences and restaurant space at 301 Ohio Street with plans for additional buildings stretching along the Buffalo River. It also has plans to construct an office building on property to the south of the Cooperage and is planning new residential-anchored buildings at Chicago Street and South Park Avenue and at the site of the former Harbor Inn at Miami and Ohio streets.

Get Connected: Ellicott Development, 716.854.0060

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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  • Johnny Pizza

    I hate to break it to you, but if a preservation pro cannot make it work and is selling it, I doubt the building is going to be preserved, by Ellicott of all developers.

    • Fortunate4now

      To be fair, they have been on both sides. See Greystone or Fairmont creamery (vs) the Harbor Inn or Bachelor.

      • Johnny Pizza

        I can’t dispute that. Its really the quoted phrase “respectful of the building” that makes me skeptical. If the quoted term was “Ellicott said they love the layout of the existing structure” or “Ellicott will be seeking historic tax credits” I’d be more inclined to believe it would be saved.

        • OldFirstWard

          Let’s be realistic here, Ellicott Development is a major league developer with a large stable of buildings and real estate holdings. A cash cow. They could easily repair those collapsing walls and construct a new roof on that 4-story building without any hesitation. They should even have enough used bricks handy from all the historic buildings they demolished.

    • Vandra

      Preservation pro does not equal funds to actually preserve. The main reason most things are not preserved is money. It’s expensive, and even Rocco who has many successes but shied away from projects he couldn’t make work economically (AM&As). Ellicott has varied success but track record of being able to pull off economically, but sometime takes a long time.

      • OldFirstWard

        Somehow, I can’t envision Ellicott Development being deprived of funds. Rocco Termini is poor compared to Ellicott Development.

        • Vandra

          Ellicott has more funds than Rocco, but much more than Clinton Brown, who is an Architect, not a developer.

      • benfranklin

        Agree 100%. Most reasonable people are preservationists, up until the point they need to write a check. Ellicott’s written more preservationist checks than 99% of us (100?).

        • Jordan Then

          They sure have. But, they’ve also demolished more historic properties than 99% of us (100?).

        • Johnny Pizza

          I write a preservation check every week when NYS and federal gov taxes my income and turns around and gives a historic tax credit to developers like Ellicott.
          Can anyone find a reliable source for how much the state gave in HTC in recent years?

  • Andy Wulf

    Judging by what’s happening (or not happening) at Our Lady of Lourdes, it’s an open question how much “hope for The Cooperage” there really is.

    • eagercolin

      I’m still baffled by that one. If they really have plans for it (as they’ve announced), why keep letting it sit open and decay?

      • Mr. B

        And to think people complained when that art installation of colored fabrics was temporarily placed on it; that was the best it looked in awhile . . .


    • benfranklin

      The church is made of stone, if the weather isn’t an issue to the exterior, why would it be to the interior (it’s still stone)? Nothing else will be used from the existing structure than the stone. It may not seem logical, I get that. But window open or closed, that stone isn’t going anywhere. (Yes, the floor might be damaged, but that wouldn’t be part of the new project anyway.)

      • Johnny Pizza

        I don’t exactly know the layout of the church or open windows but if water gets inside, seeps into cracks between stones and freezes it could do some damage. Same reason sidewalks and roadways get damaged so quickly here. Its not the water, its when the water freezes.

      • bufguy

        The exterior sheathing is stone….The walls are actually a composite of plaster, brick and stone. Unmaintained water gets in through mortar joints and works its way between the materials. As it freezes it starts breaking the materials apart causing them to fail. Numerous “stone” buildings in Buffalo failed. The church across from the Connecticut St armory deteriorated so much it needed to be torn down. A relatively well maintained building like First Presbyterian has seen masonry deterioration to its steeple. Eventually Lourdes will be beyond salvage due to Ellicott’s dneglect.

  • What A. Bunch of Morons

    What preservation pro are you talking about?

    • BlackRockLifer

      I believe Johnny Pizza means Clinton Brown, the plan I posted above was their proposal in 2008.

      • OldFirstWard

        “Please download the Pre-Lease Deposit Agreement and return it signed along with your non-refundable deposit of $500 in a check made payable to Newark Niagara LLC.”

        Remember this from Clinton Brown. He is full of shit. I approached him at a community meeting some years ago and asked him about his stabilization plans for the building after he reportedly secured a $200,000 bridge loan for that very reason. He told me that they secured the roof and I asked him how that was possible since there was no roof. The entire top floor was missing the roof and most of the side walls. He then tried to tell me that they put a tarp on it. He did nothing.

        • Bruce Beyer

          The floors of this building are saturated with oil and solvents which would suggest that the building is “unhealthy”.

          • OldFirstWard

            I wonder if you could make the same case for many of the other warehouse buildings in Buffalo that have been renovated. Garrett Leather comes to mind. A very solvent and chemical based industry. Yet as we speak, Ciminelli is thundering through that adaptive reuse project.

          • Bruce Beyer

            Just an observation. I was in this building with my friend Warehouse Dweller years ago before the roof collapsed and I remember the odor of the solvents permeated the building. If I’m not mistaken, they actually manufactured the machines for making barrels at this location. I’d be suspect of the land surrounding E&B as “back in the day” they didn’t exactly practice sound environmental strategies. Of course, if you don’t consider dumping coal waste into rivers and streams, then it means that not much has changed.


            I have a lot of cool stuff from this place !! I should have bought the harbor house when I had the chance !! just saying. paladino WILL DEMO THIS BUILDING!!!!

    • OldFirstWard

      The same preservation pro that opposes the preservation and reuse of the Central Terminal for the new Amtrak station. Clinton Brown.

      • What A. Bunch of Morons

        He’s a building killer. He has allowed that building to melt away. Don’t ever call him a Preservation Pro…….

  • K Hunt

    So much character. Too bad it has just sat their for so long. Used to ride my bike by the place and just wonder. Hope some of the structure can be saved. Unlike SLC where I now live and they just level old buildings.

  • BlackRockLifer

    The 4 story mill portion dates to the 1850’s, see attached plan from 2008.

  • Mr. B

    “The Cooperage complex seemed to have a bright future in 2005 when the
    site was purchased by Newark Niagara LLC, headed by preservation
    architect Clinton Brown, for $30,000. In 2008, Brown announced a reuse
    strategy for the property and went to work on development plans.”

    Unfortunately, the complex’s website got further along in development than the actual complex itself . . .


  • Bringing back Buffalo

    This area is hot. I bet this project comes to fruition sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more development to come.

  • Vandra

    Ellicott will hang on to this to see if it can make a killing if they decide to build the new Bills stadium on this site or adjacent. It might be on the footprint, so bye-bye restoration, or it might be very close by, which hopefully means reuse with high rents. Hopefully not a high rent parking lot.

    • Matt Marcinkiewicz

      yeah, this sounds accurate