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Architect ‘saw through’ flaws in the long-neglected building

When Nick Sinatra set out to build high-end apartments on the corner of Main and West Ferry streets, he had to overcome a few challenges.

Multiple banks rejected the developer’s proposal and wanted nothing to do with financing the project. There were structural issues with the building he was renovating. And skeptics predicted he would have difficulty filling 33 apartments on the corner, which for years had been riddled with crime.

But on Tuesday Sinatra, along with local leaders and project partners, officially took the wraps off Fenton Village, an apartment complex located at 1524 and 1526 Main St.

Sinatra called the redevelopment of the old Fenton Hotel “a gateway to the new Buffalo.”

Fenton Village features 33 one- and two-bedroom units that feature hardwood floors, granite counter tops and stainless-steel appliances. Sinatra said the apartments, which rent for $1,300 to $1,600 a month, already are fully occupied.

The building, situated across the street from the Housing Opportunity Made Equal office, also has retail space occupied by Ashker’s Juice Bar, Barre Centric and the Fenton Fitness Gym.

“Nobody thought people would want to live on this corner, and that’s not the case,” Sinatra said.

Both Sinatra and Mayor Byron W. Brown, who attended the grand opening, view the finished project as evidence of the transformation of the corner, and see it a microcosm of the transformation the city has undergone.

Sinatra said $5 million of private money was invested in Fenton Village, in addition to public money that was used to assist the effort.

Tommaso Briatico, the architect of the project, said the building previously was “in terrible condition.” Some of the floors weren’t level and part of the building was sinking in on itself when the development first began. Briatico, who has lived in Buffalo since 1959, could recall the area before the building fell into disrepair, so he took on the project.

“You could see through the bad conditions that the building had good qualities. It was just neglected,” Briatico said.

Brown called Sinatra a visionary, adding that not many developers look to work on the East Side. He said the Fenton Village project is a sign that Buffalo is being revitalized, not just downtown or on the waterfront, but in its neighborhoods, as well.

The project is also a point of pride for members of city government, which upgraded the curbs and installed sidewalks, Brown said.

The developers received $64,500 in sales and mortgage tax breaks through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, as well as property tax incentives through a separate program administered by the City of Buffalo.

Sinatra said the market for higher-end apartments will thin out, but he has other projects in the works, including an artist incubation center on 1501 Main St., and an apartment project aimed at a “middle price point,” located at 1665 Main St.

Those projects will complement Fenton Village, which Sinatra said he personally ranks near the top of his developments in the area.

“Part of our mission statement is to have a positive impact on the neighborhood we’re developing in, and this project more than almost any other we’ve done symbolizes that,” he said.

email: bsamuels@buffnews.com

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