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Downtown Main Street projects win city approval

Two small downtown renovation projects won the backing of the Buffalo Planning Board Monday, as developers continue to tackle languishing Main Street buildings in the city's core.

Ellicott Development Co. got a green light to renovate the facade of the former Baker Shoes Building at 456 Main St., putting it in position to land a new retail or restaurant tenant.

Meanwhile, J. Roger Trettel will be able to combine four buildings into one mixed-use facility with multiple storefronts at 515-523 Main St.

Ellicott, along with McGuire Development Co., plans to spend $450,000 to renovate the vacant former shoe store building, whose tall facade makes the one-story building appear to have more floors.

The work will include a new brick veneer base, new storefront windows and entry, aluminum panels and a rooftop cornice, as well as a refurbished storefront canopy and a freshly painted and cleaned concrete facade. Officials hope eventually to renovate the interior as well.

"We hope this will bring more tenants to us," said Ellicott's David Hall.

Ellicott received a $40,000 New York Main Street grant to support the project. The developers already converted the connected seven-story rear building, at 265-267 Pearl St., into 19 apartments, now redubbed The Antonio.

For his part, Trettel wants to combine three adjacent buildings in the 500 block of Main Street into a single facility with four first-floor commercial or storefront spaces and eight live-work apartments on the upper three floors.

The downtown developer bought and renovated 523 Main about eight years ago, but has since acquired 515-517 Main and most recently 521 Main. He wants to unite and renovate the three upper floors of the structures, and put new aluminum and glass storefronts on the first floor.

The refreshed buildings will feature a new tan brick veneer facade, new black aluminum storefront windows and doors, new signage and a new painted cornice topping the central portion of the structure. He also wants to put in "Juliet" balconies with French doors and wrought-iron railings in the central structure on the upper three levels.

"It's just to allow people to open the doors and not fall out," said architect Tommaso Briatico.

Additional plans call for a small rear addition for a new elevator, an exit staircase along the east portion and a new sprinkler system.

The market-rate apartments will range from 800 to 2,000 square feet.

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