The church building at Colvin and Tacoma avenues in North Buffalo is gone, but the bell tower is not.
Plans for 40 market-rate apartments that will be built around the tower are progressing, with construction expected to begin this summer and last from nine months to a year.
“The tower is really a beacon in the neighborhood,” said Sam DeFranks, whose Apollo Dismantling Services was hired to tear down the church in January 2013.
DeFranks grew up in North Buffalo and still has family there, and said the property – which his company bought in April from the United Methodist Church – offers an opportunity to build something new as well as to diversify his business.
The brick used in the housing development will be similar to the existing brick on the tower, and the roofing material will be similar to the one that was on the church.
Plans for the project, calling for 16 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom units, were approved Tuesday by the city Planning Board, although some neighbors objected to aspects of the plan.
The project will include three buildings that are each three stories, as well as covered parking spaces.
The development’s parking configuration was modeled on Mayfair Lane off North Street in Allentown, architect David Giusiana told the board.
The gated parking is below a raised courtyard, which is surrounded by housing.
Linda Franchell, who lives next door, praised DeFranks, saying he was the best neighbor she has had there in 26 years. But she expressed concerns about how only 5½ feet separate her house from the proposed townhouses.
The board told her that the project conforms with city code and told DeFranks to work on a landscaping element or fencing to buffer the house from the new development
Saranac Avenue resident Jennifer Shirk Warner said she thinks the project will be great for the neighborhood but expressed concern that the 40 apartment units will bring in more cars than the 40 spaces the developer is providing. Off-street parking is already tight, she said, and this development could make it worse.
“After six years of an abandoned church, it’s good to see something being done,” said Planning Board Chairman James K. Morrell.
In other business Tuesday:
• Ashker’s Juice Bar will be coming to Main and West Ferry streets, representatives of Sinatra & Co. Realty told the Planning Board.
The restaurant will go into the ground floor of a commercial building that is being renovated, and will sit next to Fenton Village, market-rate housing that Sinatra has developed on West Ferry. The board approved the project.
• A revised plan for 441 Ohio St. by Savarino Cos. also was approved by the board. Revisions include the exterior materials the company is using and a reduction of two towers. Both changes were made in accordance with recommendations from the state Historic Preservation Office, said developer Samuel J. Savarino.
The project sits next to the Buffalo River and includes apartments, office space and river access.