Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church’s unconventional plan to save its building, an Elmwood Village anchor, is set to move forward following Planning Board approval Tuesday.
The 60,000-square-foot church, which maintains a small but growing congregation and hosts a dozen community groups on its grounds, is constructing 23 apartments in underutilized space.
The project, which will reconfigure space inside the historic church building, faced several hurdles with the National Park Service but won approval to proceed.
The project breaks new ground for urban churches looking to survive and maintain large, old buildings, project proponents said. “That’s really the future, if we’re going to save a lot of these churches,” architect Steven J. Carmina told the Planning Board.
Another major apartment project, the construction of 49 units on Swan Street downtown, also was approved by the board.
Developer Jake Schneider is using two buildings at 145 and 149 Swan St. to create a bicycle-themed mixed-use development that also will offer bicycle storage facilities, a fitness center and showers for downtown workers and other commuters, bike rentals for hotel guests and food service.
When the project is finished, both buildings will be connected and will feature a rooftop patio.
“It’s our intention to make it a more livable, user-friendly environment,” Schneider said, adding that talks are under way between major stakeholders about creating a bicycle-friendly connector between the central business district and the Larkin District.
In other Planning Board action Tuesday:
• Five Points Bakery, on the West Side, will be moving across the street into a former dog kennel it is renovating. The bakery, which features whole-grain products, is taking four parcels at or adjacent to 44 Brayton St. and combining them. The bakery also is adding off-street parking to the site and hopes to be open by the end of the year, according to co-owner Kevin Gardner.
• The construction of a 55,000-square-foot warehouse at 140 Chandler St. in North Buffalo for Niagara Lubricants was approved. The company is rebuilding after a July 2011 fire, at an estimated cost of $2.2 million.
• An outdoor patio for Panera Bread, 765 Elmwood Ave., was approved by the board and the Common Council’s Legislation Committee.
• A new duplex on vacant land on the West Side was approved. Optima Design is planning a two-unit colonial-style house at 225 and 227 Plymouth St., between York and Connecticut streets. Both units are two stories and will be available for purchase or rent.
• Ellicott Development’s plan to add gasoline pumps and a 20,000-gallon underground storage tank at 1005 Abbott Road was approved.
• Taste of Siam, a restaurant that is planned for 810 Elmwood Ave. by the same restaurateurs who own Taste of Thai on Hertel Avenue, was approved by the board and the Legislation Committee. Crave, a restaurant opening at 1472 Hertel Ave., won similar approvals, as did La Kueva, a Spanish restaurant opening at 1256 Hertel Ave.
• The Common Council’s Legislation Committee listened to preservationists interested in designating Trico Plant No. 1 on Washington Street a local landmark but took no action. A vote by the full Council is expected on April 30, according to Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen.