Developer plans to demolish former Westwood facility to build student housing - The Buffalo News

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Developer plans to demolish former Westwood facility to build student housing

A North Carolina developer is planning to demolish a former pharmaceutical manufacturing facility on Forest Avenue and build a gated community of college apartments for nearly 600 students, aimed at SUNY Buffalo State.

Campus Crest Group of Charlotte wants to knock down the vast former Contract Pharmaceuticals plant at 100 Forest and build nine four-story apartment buildings and a three-story clubhouse on 11 of the property’s 22 acres.

According to documents submitted to the Buffalo Planning Board, the $15 million project – to be called the Grove at Buffalo State – would stretch along Forest from Danforth Street almost to Niagara Street.

The buildings would consist of 216 two- and three-bedroom apartments, housing a total of 584 students, according to Jess D. Sudol, the project manager and a civil engineer at Rochester-based Passero Associates.

Additionally, the complex would feature amenities such as a pool, volleyball and basketball courts, and other recreational areas, as well as 24-hour on-site management for security and other needs. Rents are still being determined.

Plans call for the buildings to front the road for street-side living, to “play up on the urban environment,” while the other features and about 500 parking spaces would be in the interior of the layout, Sudol said.

The developer, who would purchase the portion of the property it will use for the student housing, does not plan to buy the rest of the land, Sudol said. He said he did not know what the purchase price would be, but it would be separate from the development costs, which also do not include the cost of demolishing the existing former Westwood complex on the property. The 486,000-square-foot property includes two warehouses of more than 100,000 square feet each, plus office, lab and manufacturing space.

The property was previously home to Westwood Pharmaceuticals and then Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. It was sold in 2005 to Contract Pharmaceuticals of Mississauga, Ont., and was acquired last year by Downey, Calif.-based real estate investment firm Industrial Realty Group LLC for $4.75 million.

The timing is still uncertain, as the project needs land-use approval and rezoning for residential use, since the property is currently zoned as manufacturing. Officials are also working with city officials to schedule a neighborhood meeting so they can “reach out to the community before we get too far,” Sudol said. “We’re hoping it goes smoothly, but you can never know.”

Environmental cleanup does not appear to be required, he said, but “that’s one of the phases we’re doing in the due diligence.”

City planners will consider the project today for the agency to take the lead on the environmental review.

Campus Crest is the second-largest student housing provider in the country. The firm has 81 developments in 27 states.

Separately, city planners will also review minor modifications to the site plan for Ellicott Development Co.’s conversion of the former Fairmount Creamery Co. building at 199 Scott St. into a mixed-use building that will serve as the headquarters for health benefits exchange company Liazon Corp. The building will have a mixture of commercial, residential, retail and restaurant space.

The design changes include the addition of a handicap ramp, relocation of some windows and adjustments to entryways, said company CEO William Paladino.


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