The owners of a four-story brick building sandwiched between Pearl Street Grill & Brewery and the Lofts on Pearl are planning to convert the century-old commercial building into 12 loft apartments, capitalizing on continued growth and demand in downtown Buffalo.
Dennis and Michael Masters, owners of general contracting and construction firm BRD Inc., are seeking approval from the Buffalo Preservation Board to renovate the building, home to their firm and architect Elizabeth Buscaglia, who designed the project. The Masters brothers, one of whom founded BRD in 1978, are the principals behind Cherokee Associates, which formally owns the 19,552-square-foot building.
The Masters have controlled the building since the early 1980s, and BRD’s office occupies the first floor, while Buscaglia has a small office on the second floor. The rest of the building has been vacant for years, said Michael Master, president of BRD, adding that the time was right for a change.
“We’ve been sitting on this building for a long time, and it’s got great views of the lake and great views of the ballfield, and we just felt like now’s the time to do it,” he said. “It’s completely underutilized. There’s enough going on there and these 12 units will be a good mix.”
The $2.7 million project calls for three one-bedroom apartments and nine two-bedroom units on the upper floors, renting for $1,300 to $1,400 per month. The one-bedroom units will be 750 square feet in size, while the larger ones will have 870 square feet each.
The project also includes a retail or commercial storefront space that includes most of the first floor, fronting on Pearl Street, and the basement level, which has a grade-level entrance in back on Franklin Street. Workers would restore the existing original storefront on Pearl, including the windows and wood sill, and there also would be a separate entrance for the apartment tenants. The renovation also would feature a new rooftop terrace of red and yellow pavers in one corner, surrounded by a cable-rail barrier and accessible by both stairs and elevator via a walkway.
Other renovations and repairs include cleaning, repairing and repointing existing brick as needed, and repairing and repainting the original arch-top wood windows, cast-iron railings, cast-iron columns, entry doors, basement wall and roof cornice. Some new windows would also be cut into the brick on the building’s north side on all floors, while a non-historic opening on the second floor would be sealed with brick salvaged from the new windows.
Michael Master said neither firm has decided future plans. “It’s up in the air at this point whether we stay or move,” he said.
Financing for the project would include state and federal historic tax credits, according to the application to the city.
The project, which does not require formal Planning Board approval under the new Green Code, will be considered by the Preservation Board when it meets Thursday. If approved, construction would begin in late summer, with the project completed by late spring 2018, Master said.