UPDATE: The Planning Board once again tabled the project at its Monday meeting and asked the project team to redesign the rooftop access structures to look less like “sheds” or “outhouses stuck on top of the building.” The same Board recommended approval for a rezoning needed for a one-story WellNow building at the southeast corner of Amherst and Elmwood that requires demolition of two residential strucutres and recommended approval of controversial plans for a brewery at 249 Allen Street.
The developers behind Symphony Row, a proposed townhouse project at 390 Jersey Street, are heading back to the Planning Board Monday after meeting with neighbors and redesigning their project. Severyn Development is proposing a five-unit townhouse development for the vacant parcel just steps from Kleinhans Music Hall.
The for-sale townhouses will have 2,100 sq.ft. of living space with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. A three-bedroom layout will also be available. The interiors are designed with an open concept living space encompassing a dining room, kitchen and living room. A one-car garage is accessed from a shared driveway in the rear of the building. Flexible space on the ground floor could be finished as a media room or exercise room. Rooftop sun terraces are also planned. Studio T3 designed the project.
Original plans for the site called for six units with street-loaded garages. After five neighborhood meetings and two redesigns, project approval is still not assured. A few vocal residents say the scale and contemporary style are inappropriate for the neighborhood. From The Buffalo News:
Mark Goldman, who lives on Jersey, admitted that “this building may be no higher than existing buildings” but questioned “the extent to which this project fits into this neighborhood.” He urged the board to encourage the developers to go back and work with neighbors on further changes.
“A project like this that is developed outside the neighborhood has no respect for the history of the neighborhood or the way the neighborhood was built,” Goldman said. “It’s a great building on Niagara Street. It’s a great building on Sheridan Drive. But a building like this does not belong on a street like Jersey with its neighborhood fabric.”
Elena Delgado of Summer Street noted the historic and “extraordinary” buildings in the surrounding neighborhood, including Kleinhans, First Presbyterian Church and Grover Cleveland High School. She said many of the homes were built by owners for their own families – not by outsiders – and suggested that the new town houses are not designed to attract young families.
“This concept, from my perspective, is a gratuitous look-see at dormitories and other industrial buildings that have the same cold, design concept that is similar to the Brutalist design concept of the late ’70s and ’80s,” she said. “I’m not against the property being developed or these young men succeeding in their dreams of building on that vacant property. But it does not fit into the social and cultural concept of that area.”
Severyn Development is a family-owned and operated custom home building company started by Bill Severyn and his two sons, Alex and William. They are currently developing a patio home community in Alden and have a number of projects planned or underway in the city.
“We identified the property at 390 Jersey not only because its zoning allows for our townhome style development, but because we felt a real sense of community and energy in the neighborhood,” says William Severyn.
“We believe very strongly in the importance of single-family home ownership especially in the city,” says Severyn. “When we had an opportunity to present our project at 390 Jersey, we actively sought the advice of the existing community to create something special. A lot of the input we received form the neighbors is highlighted in our project.” Those features include, but are not limited to: rear access driveway and garages; front porches and landscaping to provide a welcoming environment: first floor limestone, cedar siding and black French doors to access Juliet balconies; and, rooftop sun terraces to take advantage downtown city views and lush green tree tops.
Buyers will receive two Symphony Row bikes with every unit to promote staying local and assisting in reducing traffic throughout the neighborhood.
“There has been interest from couples looking to move back to Buffalo and have been searching for this style of living,” adds Severyn. “The townhome model we are presenting is very popular in cities like Cleveland, Rochester, Toronto, and all over the southwestern United States. We are excited to bring this style project to our own home town.”
“We are home builders at heart with a real commitment to Buffalo,” says Severyn. “We grew up in Western New York, attended Canisius College, where we were first introduced to the city, and quickly became residents of downtown shortly after our graduation. My brother and I are also interested in keeping two units for our own residence, so we hope the neighbors will still have us.”
The Planning Board meets on Monday at 4 pm, City Hall Room 903.