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Monroe Building Plans Roll On, Original Showroom Emerges

Although it may have seemed like radio silence for a little bit, it’s time for an update about the Monroe Building (formerly Record Theatre) redevelopment. The investor group led by Jason Yots of Common Bond Real Estate, which includes Preservation Studios and Urban Vantage, have refined their plans to offer 20 apartments along with about 12,000 square feet of commercial space.

“Even before COVID-19 arrived in New York, we were re-thinking the large commercial project we had on the board,” said Yots, “After the virus hit, it became obvious that we needed to pivot to a more diversified program anchored by housing. In the end, we firmly believe workforce housing and smaller commercial opportunities will be better suited to the post-virus economy.”

The original details of the 1920 showroom, long hidden, have emerged as the project moves forward

For the commercial offerings, the developers envision a mix of food retail, small offices, and neighborhood shops that open onto an activated, multi-purpose courtyard. Pyramid Brokerage Company has been retained to lease the commercial space, which is expected to be available by Spring 2022.

For the housing component, the developers are planning 16 one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom apartments. “We’re seeing significant demand for reasonably priced one-bedroom apartments, so we’re leaning more heavily in that direction,“ said Yots, “With our mid-Main location, and the nearby Delavan transit station, we’ll offer sustainable, convenient urban living that is within the reach of a broader segment of our community.” Rents for one-bedroom units will range from $800 – $1000 per month, with the two-bedroom units priced at an average of $1500 per month.

With its rich automobile legacy, the complex is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, which triggers the availability of federal and New York historic tax credits. “Without historic tax credits, rehabilitation projects rarely are feasible in tertiary rental markets like this,” said Yots, adding: “In the case of The Monroe, tax credits not only will leverage critical gap financing, but they also will enable our young developer team to earn ‘skin in the game’ for their development expertise and activities, in the form of real equity invested by our tax credit investor.”

The developers also plan to raise a portion of the project’s financing through a “Rule 506c offering”. Created under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012,

Rule 506c allows real estate sponsors and business owners to raise equity funding from accredited investors through an online funding portal. Common Owner Portals will host The Monroe’s 506c offering, which launched on December 18th. “The larger Buffalo investment market effectively is closed to many smaller developers, so we started looking at creative ways to raise capital for our projects that are fair to all participants,” stated Yots, “Common Owner Portals presented a low-overhead plan that will enable us to bring fresh investment to The Monroe, while retaining control and long-term ownership of our project.”

Underneath a few layers of paint, the original murals around the perimeter of the showroom are peeking through

Another creative aspect of The Monroe project is the partnership the developers have fostered with local demolition contractor, Empire Building Diagnostics. “Mike Young and his team at EBD have been enthusiastic boosters of our efforts, and their willingness to help with exploratory demolition enabled us to advocate early-on for National Register-eligibility,” commented Yots, “That added a lot of value at a critical time for our deal.”

Construction on the project is expected to start by Spring 2021. BRD Construction will act as the project’s general contractor, and eco_logic STUDIO is leading the design and engineering teams as the project’s architect. The developers anticipate about a 12-month construction schedule. “Winter weather and the virus could impact our delivery schedule,” Yots said, “but BRD Construction and I have delivered two similar projects since 2017, both on-time and on-budget, and we’re confident we can do the same here, come what may.”

Although not fully revealed yet, this section of the mural shows a wonderful Fall time scene

Written by Mike Puma

Mike Puma

Writing for Buffalo Rising since 2009 covering development news, historic preservation, and Buffalo history. Works professionally in historic preservation.

View All Articles by Mike Puma
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