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Work underway at Campus Walk, new student housing at Buffalo State

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

Project name: Campus Walk

Address: 643 Grant St.

Developer: Greenleaf & Co.

Cost: $25 million

Government assistance: None.

Description: Construction of new student housing for SUNY Buffalo State

Completion date: July 1, 2017

Lowdown: Students at Buffalo State will soon have a shiny new apartment complex that they can call home.

Work is underway on a new student-housing development at 643 Grant St. that will house hundreds of students on the edge of the Buff State campus. Dubbed Campus Walk One, it’s one of two major projects there that will reshape the west entrance to the school.

“This project is a fantastic project for Buff State, but look at what it’s providing for the Grant Street community,” said Jim Swiezy, CEO of developer Greenleaf & Co. “We’re reinventing the entire entrance to the school.”

Designed by Kideney Architects and seven years in the making, Campus Walk One features two urban-style buildings with 84 three- and four-bedroom suites, for 318 beds or rooms. Each student will have a private bathroom, and each suite will include full-size washers and dryers, plus a common living room. Rents will be $695 to $795.

“Those were not the amenities that were available when I attended college at Buffalo State,” Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, a Buff State alumnus, joked during the groundbreaking ceremony.

In all, there’s 162,000 square feet of housing, plus 5,000 square feet of retail in the Grant Street building for a coffee shop, pizzeria or other restaurant. The complex also will have a fully equipped computer room with Apple products, a large study lounge, a state-of-the-art fitness center and other student amenities in the Rees Street building, along with the leasing office.

Swiezy’s firm and Buff State are putting what he called a “heavy focus” on student safety, with 94 cameras located throughout the property along with computerized access control and monitoring. And Greenleaf hired a national student housing management firm to “ensure that our focus on safety and security is aligned with the priorities of SUNY Buffalo State,” he said.

Brown and Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner also noted that the project helps meet a significant gap that Buffalo State has faced in accommodating its growing student body. “Buffalo State College has a good problem that a lot of other institutions of higher education do not, and that is that its student population has been growing,” Brown said. “There has been a waiting list for students to get housing on campus and near campus. This will solve that problem.”

Plans call for LPCiminelli to finish by July 2017, with an opening slated for fall 2017.

At least a couple more similar buildings are planned for future development on two acres to the south, with 340 to 360 more beds anticipated. “We believe this project will act as a conduit to connect other smaller pockets of development on Grant Street to the south,” Swiezy said.

As part of the project, Greenleaf swapped three parcels it owned for three properties Buff State owned at the southeast corner of Grant and Rockwell Road, adjacent to the project site. That gave the developer the land it needed, while providing the school with land for its new Jacqueline V. LoRusso Alumni House and Visitor Center. Buff State will break ground in early 2017 on the 10,000-square-foot facility for visitors, returning alumni and prospective students.

The two parties also signed a 15-year affiliation agreement, under which Buff State will provide parking and help Greenleaf market and lease the buildings, while Greenleaf agreed to set up a tenant council for the complex to deal with any problems “quickly and expeditiously,” Swiezy said.

– Jonathan D. Epstein

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