An apartment project in Elmwood Village and another in an emerging North Buffalo neighborhood won key approvals Tuesday, which will allow construction on both to begin in late spring.
One of Elmwood’s most talked-about developments, a $3.5 million, 24-unit building with ground-floor storefronts that will take the place of a parking lot in the heart of the village could be open early next year.
Meanwhile, a $7 million redevelopment of a historic commercial building in North Buffalo into 38 apartments and between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet of office space is planned to open before the end of the year.
Both were approved by the city Planning Board, and had already been approved by the city Zoning Board of Appeals.
The North Buffalo project, in the former American Radiator headquarters at 1807 Elmwood Ave., is part of what developer Rocco R. Termini calls the emerging “Pierce Arrow village.” His Signature Development company has remade several other properties in the Elmwood-Hertel neighborhood, including the Houk Lofts on Grote Street and The Foundry, lofts and commercial space in the former FWS furniture store.
“It’s a walkable community,” Termini said. Proximity to Wegmans, Regal Cinemas, and bars and restaurants on Amherst Street and Hertel Avenue make the neighborhood attractive, he said.
Termini is seeking state historic tax credits and tax abatements from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
“It’s a building that’s been looking for an appropriate reuse for a long time,” Planning Board member Cynthia A. Schwartz said before voting to approve the project.
Farther south on Elmwood, the Benchmark Group’s new building between Auburn Avenue and Breckenridge Street drew some community opposition because of concerns about parking and the design of the building.
The project has gone through several design changes, and at one time had just 12 apartment units, instead of the 24 that are planned now. The building will have one- and two-bedroom apartments and only one off-street parking space per unit, leading to concerns about parking in what is already a dense commercial and residential area.
Architect Karl Frizlen talked about how the design conforms to Elmwood Village standards, but some speakers were not convinced. “This still doesn’t fit as far as I’m concerned, in our neighborhood,” said James R. Leuthe, who lives behind the property. Leuthe said that he thinks the building looks like it belongs in the suburbs and that he was concerned about garbage and parking. The garbage will be stored in totes that will be enclosed, and will be picked up every week. Benchmark’s property manager will make sure the area is kept clean, as the tenants will demand that, said Martin J. DelleBovi, Benchmark executive vice president and director of real estate.
Others said they would have liked to have seen a brick building with a peaked roof, instead of the mostly flat roof and HardiPlank synthetic material on the current designs.
Others supportors of the project, included Edward Pinkel of Urban Threads and Carly Battin, executive director of the Elmwood Village Association. They said the building, which will be next to the sidewalk, makes the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Apartments will rent for an average of $1,400 a month and four storefronts will be about 1,100 square feet each.
Construction is expected to begin in May or June and be ready for occupancy in early 2015.
In other business:
• Flying Bison’s new headquarters in the Larkin District was approved for a second time by the Planning Board. The first plans, for 840 Seneca St., were scrapped when developers determined that the building was in disrepair and could not be renovated.
The brewery will tear down the existing building and build a new brewery in its place.
• A backyard outdoor patio and garden at Sato, 739 Elmwood Ave., was approved, as were sidewalk patios at Salumeria Belsito, 1368 Hertel Ave.