Development boom continues; 72 lofts planned for Pierce-Arrow factory - The Buffalo News

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Development boom continues; 72 lofts planned for Pierce-Arrow factory

A North Buffalo neighborhood that has already seen five old manufacturing buildings brought back to life or targeted for redevelopment is poised to see another enormous daylight factory turn into apartments.

Developer Nick Sinatra wants to transform the long-vacant Pierce-Arrow Factory Complex at 255 Great Arrow Ave. into 72 new market-rate loft apartments. The project will be considered Monday by the Buffalo Planning Board.

The $14 million project, which includes $11 million for construction, will be partially funded with state and federal historic tax credits, which Sinatra is now pursuing through the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service. Those agencies must approve the planned work to restore the concrete frame, window openings, new aluminum windows to replicate the original and other details in accordance with federal rehabilitation standards.

Plans for the four-story building call for a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 700 to 1,500 square feet. Rents have not been finalized, but Sinatra said they will likely vary from $1,000 to $1,500 per month once the results of a market study are in.

The design also will include a reconstructed north parking lot with 120 parking spaces, plus a landscaped yard area for tenant use that will be built on the south side of the building, where an asphalt-paved parking area now exists.

Environmental approvals also are needed, and Sinatra plans to pursue tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. If approved this month, the developer hopes to begin construction on the 6.68-acre site by late summer and finish by fall 2018, Sinatra said.

The proposal is the latest in several projects in that area of the city, along with Rocco Termini's transformation of other former industrial buildings into the Foundry Lofts, Houk Lofts and Arco Lofts. Termini is also converting the former Linde Air Manufacturing facility on Chandler Street into a business incubator. And Tapestry Charter School is spending $17 million to expand its campus nearby.

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Sinatra's project is also separate from a $29 million plan by Buffalo investor Joseph Hecht and New York City-based Read Property Group to redevelop the adjacent Pierce-Arrow Administration Building on Elmwood Avenue into 107 loft apartments.

"There's a lot of opportunity in North Buffalo," Sinatra said. "There's been a lot of focus on downtown and the medical campus, but there's a need in North Buffalo for housing that's not being met yet."

The Pierce-Arrow manufacturing complex was constructed over a century ago on the northwest quadrant of the Pan American Exposition site, occupying several buildings and blocks around Elmwood and Great Arrow avenues. It thrived as a car maker for years, but after the company went out of business and shut down, the buildings were sold to various owners.

"The Pierce Arrow site is a very historic location," Sinatra said, "so obviously the historic tax credits were a big driving force in being able to make this project work."

Building "D," the last to be built, is one of two structures that are owned by Sinatra, alongside Barry Fichman, a New York City investor, who had proposed a student-housing project for the building several years ago. This time, though, plans call for less density and lower occupancy, with standard apartments that fit in with redevelopments of other buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The 100,000-square-foot building is currently used to store classic cars and antique boats. Sinatra said there are no plans yet for Building C, saying it "could be a secondary phase, but that could be years away."

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