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$20 million renovation revives long vacant Curtiss Building on Franklin Street

Building Update is a regular feature highlighting progress on development projects throughout the region.

Project name: Curtiss Hotel

Address: 204-216 Franklin St., Buffalo

Developer: Mark Croce

Cost: $20 million

Description: Convert long-vacant Curtiss Building in downtown Buffalo into boutique luxury hotel.

Completion date: Summer/fall 2016

Lowdown: Hospitality businessman and developer Mark Croce is pushing hard to complete his conversion of the long-vacant Curtiss Building into a high-end hotel.

Croce said the $20 million project is now about 80 percent done, based on construction documents, with a goal of opening by August. About 60 to 80 workers are onsite on any day, he said. He said he had hoped to be done “a little bit sooner,” but “it’s not going to open until it’s ready, it’s done, it’s perfect.”

Croce is transforming the 57,000-square-foot former office building into 68 luxury hotel rooms, with a first-floor fine-dining restaurant and revolving bar, plus a rooftop bar and lounge. It will be part of Choice International’s Ascend Collection of independent hotels, which includes the Giacomo in Niagara Falls and Salvatore’s Grand in Cheektowaga.

The guest rooms – 14 on each of the second through fifth floors and 12 on the sixth floor – vary in sizes and shapes because of the building’s design, and one is an extra large presidential suite. Rates will range from $189 to $599 a night.

The six-story hotel will feature a spa and Roman bath that stretches from inside the ground floor to the outside as a hot spring. The spa will be open to the public through memberships. The building’s lower level or basement will also include a fitness center, a boutique men’s hair and nail salon and two massage rooms, operated by Leon Studio One.

The restaurant, to be called Chez Ami to recall a former eatery of that name on Delaware Avenue, will seat up to 120. The elevated revolving bar platform will have four bartender stations, and will seat 28 patrons, with both steps and a ramp leading up to it. It will rotate about twice an hour. “We expect this to be a very, very hustle-and-bustle place,” Croce said. “We’re looking to create a destination.”

An outside patio can seat another 60, and patrons can also take an elevator to the roof, where another bar and a 26-foot diameter fire pit area will have space for 80 to 100 people. About half of the rooftop space will be enclosed by glass, while the rest will be open. “In the wintertime, you can watch a storm coming in off the lake,” Croce said.

Guests will arrive via the new cantilevered overhang entrance to the building on Franklin Street. The entry will loop along a new cement block radius wall that will be covered with white marble. Free valet parking will be provided, with 20 spaces on site and over 500 that Croce owns within a block of the building.

– Jonathan D. Epstein