The developer of the former Freezer Queen site on the Outer Harbor plans to tear down an existing building and replace it with a 23-story apartment building to be called Apartments at Queen City Landing.
Gerald A. Buchheit’s plan marks a change in direction from rehabilitating and expanding the giant warehouse building at 975 Fuhrmann Blvd., beside the Small Boat Harbor.
The Buffalo Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for April 4.
Plans call for 160 to 200 apartments in a glass tower with balconies, along with a three-level parking ramp. The complex would also contain a waterside restaurant with boat docks and a restaurant and bar on the fifth floor. There would be a fitness and wellness studio and an outdoor recreation area atop the parking structure, with tennis courts and resident patio space.
Buchheit could not be reached to comment on Thursday. The change in plans – from rehabilitating and expanding the existing building, to tearing it down and building a tall, new addition to the city’s skyline – was driven by increased interest in the development, said Timothy Rider, a principal in Trautman Associates, an architectural and engineering firm working on the project.
The project’s estimated value remains in the $40 million to $60 million range, Rider said. And the ownership team hopes for the building to be occupied before the end of 2017.
Buchheit was part of a group of investors who bought the former Freezer Queen property at a 2007 foreclosure auction for $3 million. The six-story frozen food production plant ceased operations in 2006. The peninsula on which the facility sits consists of nearly 20 acres.
Since the auction, the developer has put forward different versions of plans to revitalize the property. One idea consisted of office, hotel and retail space that aimed to attract a major corporate tenant. That development did not materialize, but the Outer Harbor has subsequently drawn more attention and upgrades, and has become more of a destination.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority earlier this year transferred 50 acres of land just north of the Freezer Queen site to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., raising the possibility of development at Terminals A and B on the Outer Harbor.
The NFTA also sold 384 acres of its Small Boat Harbor and Gallagher Beach properties to the state parks system. More investment in Outer Harbor properties is in the works.