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In a positive sign, Buffalo’s renaissance is attracting out-of-town developers

Out-of-town developers are interested in Buffalo. Very interested. It is another sign that the area’s fortunes have turned for the better.

While far and away from an out-and-out boom, developers – local and out of town – have been grabbing up old buildings, some of them historic. After rehabbing, the buildings are being repurposed, largely into apartments, with office space and restaurants mixed in. And there’s good reason for all this recent activity: the economic resurgence underway.

Thanks especially go to the billion-dollar boost from the governor, which attracted SolarCity, IBM and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Add to that major expansions at Geico (whose owner, Berkshire Hathaway, also owns The News), the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the banking and technology industries, not to mention a revitalized waterfront, and Buffalo appears to be as hot as this summer’s record-setting weather.

Empty nesters and millennials are finding their way back to the city center. It is predicted that as more young people answer the call to jobs – and the older ones to the cultural scene and other city attractions – they will want to live in the center of the action. Hence, the demand for fully equipped accommodations with high-end amenities.

The latest example of an out-of-town developer seeking to repurpose one of Buffalo’s important historic structures is the Brooklyn real estate firm that plans to convert the Pierce-Arrow administration building in North Buffalo.

Robert Wolf’s Read Property Group wants to renovate and restore the former home of the long-gone luxury auto manufacturer into 105 residential apartment units. In addition, the plan would redevelop a pair of secondary buildings into an indoor facility for 64 vehicles for the new tenants.

Flynn Battaglia Architects and Studio T3 Engineering PLLC have indicated a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments and some two-bedroom loft units on the second floor, where the ceilings are a breathtaking 19 feet high. Throw in a fitness center and small lounge areas with Wi-Fi and it might very well prove irresistible to millennials.

The Buffalo Planning Board and the state Historic Preservation Office will get an opportunity to approve this $20 million project, slated to begin in March 2017, with completion 12 months later.

Each new proposed project is another sign of Buffalo’s rebirth. And outside interest means the word is spreading far and wide – a positive development.

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