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Jefferson Apartments officially historic

A 1926 apartment building that once was considered one of the most elegant addresses in the city was added to the National Register of Historic Places this week during a ceremony in its ornate lobby.

The Jefferson Apartments building at 250 Rainbow Blvd. is a great example of a prewar, high-rise apartments and is "architecturally, historically significant in this fairly small city," said Claire Ross, a program analyst for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "This building type is usually in a much larger city."

Built in the late Gothic revival style, it is the only one of its kind in the city.

Ross presented a framed certificate to the owners of the building Wednesday. She also praised the Niagara Falls Historic Commission on its work in recent years to help several historic places in the city gain the same recognition, including City Hall and the United Office Building.

City Historian Tom Yots conducted the research for the building's application, and he said it holds special memories for a lot of people.

"In trying to rebuild the city, it's nice to see some places or reflections of what we came from. This shows the quality of workmanship that people cared about in the past," said Mayor Vince Anello, who attended the certificate presentation.

Jefferson Associates purchased the building for $1.1 million in November 2000, but recently scrapped its original plans to turn the 96-unit building into a boutique-style hotel.

Shawn Weber, the manager and one of the partners, said financing for that plan fell through when banks noticed that a couple other downtown hotels had been foreclosed upon last year, and decided the climate was not right for the project.

The property was transferred in August 2005 to Q-M Enterprises, a limited liability company, although that was an internal change. It is still run by many of the same principals, such as John A. and David C. Giusiana of Giusiana Architects and Engineers of Lewiston.

Weber said the partners recently decided to renovate each room and all the common areas, and continue its use as an apartment building.

Two rooms on the first floor have been completed, and feature fresh paint, carpet, utilities and updated heating and cooling systems. Weber said the total cost of renovation will be about $500,000.

The building offers studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments -- furnished and unfurnished -- for annual and short-term leases. Costs vary from $575 to $1,100 per month.

Weber said 55 units are already occupied by a mix of age groups that include young professionals and senior citizens.

The building is now eligible for tax credits for renovation and marketing as part of the National Historic Register program, but principals said they haven't decided if they will apply.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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