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Priam, First Amherst Development seek urban reuse loans

Two downtown redevelopment projects are up for a combined $1.5 million in low-interest loans from a city-administered fund designed to support the rejuvenation of older urban buildings.

Paul Kolkmeyer's Priam LLC and Benjamin Obletz's First Amherst Development Corp. are seeking money from the Buffalo Building Reuse Project loan program, which is run by the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. but underwritten by the New York Business Development Corp.

Priam wants $750,000 as part of a $51.6 million conversion of two lower Main Street office buildings into 58 residential units, underground parking, office and banquet space. The Marin project incorporates the 14-story Marine Trust Building at 237 Main St., whose marble lobby will become a new banquet facility, and the seven-story Roblin Building at 241 Main St. The project will also include special private-dining rooms inside the bank vaults in Marin's basement.

Kolkmeyer has already turned the Stanton Building at 251 Main St. into 36 loft apartments and retail space. That project received a $524,000 loan from the BBRP fund last year. Kolkmeyer also bought a 273-space parking ramp at 93 Pearl St. to support the Main Street buildings.

Separately, First Amherst has applied for a $750,000 loan for a new construction project at 23 North St. with 39 market-rate apartments and 40 parking spaces. The $11.3 million project will use energy-efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, including LED lighting.

The site had formerly housed an 11,000-square-foot mansion called Broadcast House that had been used as a radio station, but First Amherst's plans to redevelop that building were foiled after a lightning strike in 2014 caused significant damage, necessitating emergency demolition and the new construction.

Both the Priam and First Amherst projects will be considered Tuesday by the BUDC Downtown Committee for "consistency" with the BBRP guidelines before they can be forwarded to the NYBDC for loan approval.

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