A promising development on Seneca Street stands to add another important piece to the fast-filling puzzle of Buffalo’s economic revival.
Savarino Companies is planning a mixed-use, adaptive reuse of the 330,000-square-foot building at 500 Seneca St. The six-story edifice, between Spring and Hamburg streets, is an abandoned factory, most recently occupied eight years ago by New Era Cap Co.
Its location is about perfect, helping connect downtown Buffalo with the developing Larkin District to the east. Plans are specifically to extend the streetscape enhancements in the Larkin District toward downtown.
Under Savarino’s plan, the former headquarters of the F.N. Burt Co. will be transformed into a multi-tenant building that will feature 220,000 square feet of Class A office space on five floors, plus retail, museum, business incubator and storage or flex space for tenants.
Other uses will include rental space for cultural groups and community organizations. The office space will “feature loft-style finishes, large exterior windows and large floor plates.” There will be a three-story green atrium, an enclosed exterior courtyard, an on-site fitness center, a cafe and cafeteria as well as 150 indoor parking spaces and other amenities.
Although the project is awaiting approval from the Buffalo Planning Board, Savarino has already begun stabilization work on deteriorated sections of the 111-year-old building, which the company purchased from New Era nearly three years ago. Asbestos and lead removal also needs to be done.
Appropriately for such a building, financing will come in part from federal and state historic tax credits. Full construction is expected to begin in spring, and the first tenant might be able to move in shortly thereafter.
The list of Buffalo’s redevelopment projects is suddenly very long, stretching from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to the inner and outer harbors and, now, to the threshold of the Larkin District. In fact, this isn’t the only project leveraging the visionary Larkin work done by developer Howard Zemsky. A bicycle-themed project on Swan Street, announced last month, also seeks to connect that area to downtown Buffalo.
It has been decades since developers saw so much promise in this old but durable city. The project at 500 Seneca St. is a welcome addition to the list of developments that are already under way, or about to be.