There seems to be no stopping the reclamation and rehabitation of downtown Buffalo. Latest in the ongoing rehabilitation sweepstakes is a plan to reimagine two all-but vacant buildings on Swan Street as a combination apartment building and bicycle emporium.
It’s an inventive and intriguing plan. The marketability of the apartment space seems beyond dispute, with the ever-rising attraction of downtown as an address for young people and empty-nesters alike.
The developer of this project, called the Apartments at the HUB, is Jake Schneider. His company, Schneider Development, has already had success with renovating old buildings into apartments.
Those projects include the Warehouse Lofts at 210 Ellicott St. and the Lofts at the 136, converted from the old Alling & Cory Warehouse. Both those apartment buildings are full.
His new development is at 145 and 149 Swan St., between Michigan Avenue and Elm Street. The buildings, with a combined total of 80,000 square feet, date from 1908 and 1896, respectively.
The apartments – 50 of them, offered at market rates – will including one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 1,020 square feet to 1,345 square feet. The buildings will include a rooftop garden and a fire pit, meant to encourage outdoor gathering. Schneider also hopes to improve landscaping, sidewalks and lighting. He imagines the project as an urban “greenway” that would connect the Larkin District to downtown.
But the most interesting aspect of the project is the plan to create the Western New York Bicycling Center on the first floor. It will be run by Adam Trost and Rebecca Erb, who own the Bike Shop in East Aurora, and plan to relocate downtown where they can reach a larger market.
The bicycling center will rent bikes to tour nearby destinations including the Larkin District, Canalside and the outer harbor.
It will also include a bicycle fitness and commuter facility with lockers and showers, and a conference center for bicycle clubs and not-for-profit bicycle-related community groups.
And, in another enticement, the Bicycling Center will also include bicycles and memorabilia loaned by James Sandoro, who founded the nearby Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum.
Those items will be displayed in a Western New York Bicycle Museum at the property. Sandoro said he has had the collection for years, but never had the room to display it.
The building will also include a cafe and bar managed by Schneider’s daughters, who own Merge restaurant on Delaware Avenue.
This all sounds like a worthy addition to the redevelopment of downtown Buffalo through projects that include the Larkin District, the waterfront, the revived Statler City and the Hotel @ the Lafayette.
It’s hard work, but the evidence shows that Buffalo is coming back. This project is a fine addition to that happy development.