Two buildings in the 400 blocks of Delaware and Elmwood avenues are about to get apartment makeovers by different developers that will bring over 100 upgraded housing units within reach of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Anthony Kissling is planning a complete renovation of the building that houses Chris’ NY Sandwich Co. at 401 Delaware Ave., with 30 apartments across from the Buffalo Club. Meanwhile, Nick Sinatra is in the midst of redoing 400 Elmwood Ave., with 70 units and two commercial spaces.
Both are capitalizing not only on the growth of the Medical Campus, whose leaders expect 5,000 more employees will be working there in a few years, but the desire of a growing population, particularly younger people, to live in the city as well.
“We are tapping into the massive demand for upgraded or new apartments in Buffalo,” Sinatra said.
At 400 Elmwood, near Bryant Street and Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Sinatra is “just completing” a $4.5 million renovation of the Elmwood Village building, which includes 70 units and two first-floor commercial spaces. Originally designed by Buffalonian Edward Moeller, who also designed Pilgrim English Evangelical Church on Best Street, the building was based on a wing of the Ritz Paris Hotel that served as a war hospital in Paris where Moeller was treated during World War I.
Most of the units are one-bedroom apartments of 450 to 500 square feet each, with 12 two-bedroom units of 600 to 750 square feet. Rent ranges from $900 to $1,175 per month. It should be completed in the fall.
The units will feature energy-efficient windows, restored hardwood floors, reclaimed wooden trim, new appliances, butcher-block counter- tops, refurbished steel entry doors, “throwback” black-and-white subway tiles in the bathroom, pendant lights and doorknobs that are historic in appearance. The building will include a bike room, laundry and storage space, and a community-themed courtyard with an outdoor kitchen and grill.
In keeping with the online and social media age, Sinatra is setting up a Facebook community for the property, as well as the ability to pay rent, request a work order and even fill out a rental application online. There’s also a phone app that allows residents to buzz in friends through the front gate regardless of where they are.
Sinatra is negotiating with “a few” restaurant or fitness-based tenants to take the storefront commercial space and provide amenities for residents.
Farther south and east, just below Edward Street, Kissling is revamping the century-old classical structure at 401 Delaware, which includes both a five-story main building and a three-story annex that date to 1896, as well as an adjacent parking lot.
Known as The Colonial, the complex includes 21 apartments in the main building and nine in the annex, plus the storefronts for Chris’ and a hair salon. The apartments, including studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, now rent for $575 to $875.
The entire annex is currently vacant, so Kissling plans to “totally renovate” that portion, essentially demolishing the interior down to the brick walls, and also revamp the stairways, elevator and the facade of the building. He will also remodel the apartments in it with new kitchens, new bathrooms and hardwood floors. “No cheap stuff,” he said.
Kissling already did some work to the main building after he bought it 15 years ago, but now he wants to renovate all the hallways and public areas, clean up the front doors and put in new lighting. And as the apartments turn over – four are vacant now – he intends to remodel each of them as well.
“It’s going to be the best-looking building around. It’s going to be a gorgeous building,” said Kissling, who bought the complex in 1999 for $600,000 and now plans to spend $1.2 million on the renovation. “Everything’s going to be renovated, the hallways and everything.”
Plans call for restoring the building to the way it looked in 1925, based on some old photos Kissling has, and using state and federal historic tax credits that have already been approved. For example, he has ordered a new cornice made of fiberglass that will be installed in place of a rusty one on top of the building’s facade. He is also planning a roof deck, with views of Lake Erie and along Delaware Avenue.
“We’ve been working on this for about a year,” he said. “That’s one of the best locations in Buffalo.”