Work is well underway to restore four historic buildings at the southeast corner of Broadway and Michigan Avenue. A group of investors, led by architect Steven J. Carmina and developer Roger Trettel, are redeveloping the 19th-century buildings that make up what’s called the Dellenbaugh block. They sit at the gateway to the Michigan Avenue African American Heritage Corridor.
The work is as much as a rescue effort as a development project. The buildings at 163-167 Broadway and 64 Nash Street were built over time between the 1820s and 1880s. Vacant for over 15 years, time and weather took their toll. With the start of work delayed while the investment group awaited word on grant funding, last winter was not kind to the complex. While the exterior walls were stabilized, large sections of the roof and floors had given out.
“It’s been a nightmare,” says Carmina. “Much of the interior of the wood floor structures collapsed and has had to be reconstructed.”
The center two-story building fared better. The former Arsenal Car Storage building is steel-framed with thick concrete floors.
The two-story building at the corner of Nash and Broadway was a former residence, modified over the years for commercial use. The remnants of four fireplaces can be seen in the walls of the first floor space that will be occupied by the local branch of the NAACP (above). The second floor and roof of the building had to be rebuilt. Apartments in this portion of the complex along with the second floor of the Arsenal building are nearly complete.
Work on three-story building at Broadway and Michigan is further behind. Much of this building had collapsed and is being rebuilt. Historic window signs for the Auditorium Pharmacy have been uncovered and will be saved (below).
Floor tile with the Auditorium name was uncovered at the corner of the building, the main entrance to the pharmacy that was covered over years ago. The corner entryway will be re-established and the tiling will be repaired.
The project will include 18 units of mixed income apartments, 16 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units. Each floorplan is unique with center-island kitchens, in-unit laundries, and exposed brick walls. One of the units will cascade down the former car ramp at the rear of the complex with living space on four levels. Enclosed parking for 11 cars is being created.
Three commercial spaces are available. Carmina says there is strong interest in two of the spaces but cannot name potential tenants yet.
“We are hoping to find a minority-owned business to occupy the former carriage house along Nash Street,” says Carmina. “It includes 1,800 square feet of space on two levels.” (below)
Funding for the Nash Lofts includes a $610,000 capital grant from the WNY Regional Economic Development Council. Other funding includes a $750,000 Bridge Loan by way of Mayor Byron W. Brown and the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, approximately $1.7 million in Historic Tax Credits, and the balance for both construction loan and permanent financing is being provided through Community Preservation Corporation (CPC). The project carries a $5 million price tag.
Carmina Wood Morris designed the redevelopment project. Ellicott Development will manage the property, its first third-party property management deal. Pre-leasing is expected to begin in July with occupancy starting in October.