After many years as a dumpy-looking downtown motel with a somewhat sleazy reputation, a demolished Main Street property just north of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is slated to become a shiny new $25 million medical office building.
Dr. Fadi Dagher’s Cedarland Development Group said Friday it wants to construct a new mixed-use facility, dominated by Class A office space, at 1159 Main, at the corner of Dodge Street.
That’s just two blocks from the campus that includes Buffalo General Medical Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Gates Vascular Institute, Conventus and the new Oishei Children’s Hospital and University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The new building, which would stretch 260 feet along Main Street, is also very close to a Metro Rail station and Metro bus routes, and not far from the Kensington Expressway.
Officials are counting on that proximity, as well as the dearth of other space and the past success of projects like Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s Conventus, to help them fill up the building quickly. Indeed, Ciminelli is already planning a second building.
“Given the demand in the medical campus and the success of other buildings around it, we can’t imagine it taking too long to making this a 100 percent sellout,” said Richard Schechter, a commercial real estate broker at Pyramid Brokerage Company of Buffalo, who is representing Cedarland in leasing out the space, along with colleague Tyler Balentine. “We envision it being mostly medical, but we’re open to other professional office users and retail on the lower level.”
The property is the site of the former Buffalo Motor Lodge, which Dagher acquired and then demolished in preparation for the new project. The site has already been mostly cleared, except for some brush and trees, and should be ready for redevelopment shortly, Schechter said. He noted that Dagher’s project, together with the pending medical campus purchase of the adjacent Osmose property, will also complete the redevelopment of the entire block between Main and Ellicott streets.
The newest project is the latest example of the attractiveness of the neighborhoods along Main Street for redevelopment. With the 120-acre medical campus largely developed and full, but demand for new space rising, developers have increasingly turned their attention to converting buildings and properties on surrounding streets, particularly to the north along Main.
So far, much of that effort has been focused on residential development, along with street-level retail, to serve the needs of more than 5,000 additional medical workers and graduate students who will be coming onto the campus in coming years. But there’s also a need for more office space, not only for doctors, but also for researchers and spinoff companies.
“We truly believe this is Buffalo’s time for a renaissance and this new Main Street building is one more step in the right direction,” Cedarland Marketing Director Kayleigh Martin said.
Tentative plans call for at least a four-story building on the 1.55-acre site, with up to 90,000 square feet of space for medical and professional tenants, as well as first-floor retail. But Cedarland also wants to put one to two additional floors on top for up to 30 one- and two-bedroom residential apartments, although no final decision has been made. The high-end apartments would be aimed at medical campus professionals. The building would also have more than 120 underground and surface parking spaces.
The precise mix of space will depend on demand. “If we get the office leased out, it gives us the ability to do residential,” said Kevin Dagher, vice president of Cedarland.
Final plans are still in flux, and financing depends first on getting a portion of the building pre-leased. But construction is slated to begin in spring 2017, and Schechter said Dagher is “ready to move as soon as we get enough tenants to make the project viable.”
The project is also the latest redevelopment initiative by Dagher – and the first with a medical orientation – since the former transplant surgeon at Buffalo General broke onto the real estate scene several years ago, as an investor alongside a Middle Eastern hospitality company in acquiring the former Holiday Inn Grand Island. Since then, he’s acquired three Waterfront Village office buildings, as well as some land in Clarence, and has turned his attention to redeveloping the former Eckhardt’s Department Store building and the former Sattler’s Department Store building, both on Broadway near Fillmore Avenue.
“This investment continues our commitment to the city and our desire to have a positive influence on Buffalo’s renaissance,” said Kevin Dagher, Vice President, Cedarland Development Group.