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Building Buffalo: New West Side apartment building takes shape

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

Project name: Allentown Square Apartments at Maryland Place (formerly Casa Serena Apartments)

Address: 295 Maryland St.

Developer: Anthony P. LoRusso

Cost: $7 million

Government assistance: About $1.8 million in state brownfield tax credits and additional state and federal energy credits

Description: Construction of new 58-unit apartment complex

Completion date: November 2016

Lowdown: Former city judge Anthony P. LoRusso’s new West Side apartment complex is advancing through construction of its 58 units after workers “topped off” the three-story building slated for completion and opening by November.

The $7 million project at 295 Maryland St., now called Allentown Square Apartments at Maryland Place following a recent name change, calls for a 52,500-square-foot building, with 48 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom market-rate apartments aimed at lower- to middle-income residents. The project was originally supposed to include some commercial spaces, such as for a laundromat, but those didn’t work out, so there will now be four studio apartments as well.

The apartments – which LoRusso calls “trendy city units” – will average about 635 to 675 square feet each, with rents hovering around $975 per month. Studios will be smaller, renting for $795, while two-bedroom units will be slightly larger, for $1,175. “These are Paris-style apartments. They’re wonderful,” LoRusso said. “If folks want larger places, they won’t be with us. But they’re going to be cute as hell.”

The building, originally named Casa Serena Apartments, will also include covered parking, some “green space,” community rooms and possible a small neighborhood art gallery. It’s also designed as a “net-zero” energy building, with 552 solar panels on the roof and carport, high-efficiency boilers in each unit, extra insulation between walls and around the entire building, and triple-pane windows, as well as electric-vehicle charging stations.

The project is funded by LoRusso’s own equity, bank financing from First Niagara Financial Group, state and federal energy credits, and about $1.8 million in state brownfield tax credits following his months-long cleanup of the former sign-painting site. Contractors from Benchmark Environmental excavated and disposed of about 3,600 tons of soil and fill materials, and installed a soil cover and vapor barrier before construction could begin.

This is the fourth local apartment project for LoRusso, a Buffalo native and former Family Court and City Court judge who resigned in 1993. He also owns the 32-unit Elmhurst Place Apartments in North Buffalo, the Brent Manor Apartments at 366 Elmwood Ave. with 122 units, and the 22-unit Casa Shelby at 10th and Virginia streets.

LoRusso is working with partner Richard Gonzalez on the project, which has been six years in the making, since LoRusso acquired the 1½-acre property from an affiliate of outdoor billboard firm Lamar Advertising Co. for $35,000. The site had been contaminated by solvents, gasoline, hydraulic oil and other residue from years of painting activity by Whitmer & Ferris, Penn Advertising and then Lamar, necessitating the cleanup.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com