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Work starts to turn Swan Street warehouse into lofts

The long-awaited redevelopment of the former Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company daylight-factory warehouse near Larkinville kicked off this week, nearly three years after the first version of the mixed-use project was unveiled.

KCG Development, along with state and local elected officials, held a ceremonial brick-laying ceremony Wednesday afternoon on the new AP Lofts Apartments project at 545 Swan St. Officials laid 10 gold-colored bricks onto a mock-up knee-high brick wall created for the "foundation-setting" event, since the building already exists.

Originally constructed in 1910 at the corner of Hamburg and Swan streets, the 238,000-square-foot complex housed a major distribution and storage center for A&P for decades, but most recently was home to Mesmer Refrigeration for many years. With the growth of Larkinville and revival downtown, it began attracting attention for possible reuse.

The warehouse had been destined as a possible new home for the Buffalo City Mission, but that plan fell apart amid financing problems and opposition from the neighborhood. The building was then targeted by Miller Valentine Group of Cincinnati, which announced the first apartment conversion project for the site in late 2014. That fell through a year later, and KCG took over both the building and the project in February 2016.

The Indianapolis-based developer plans to convert the eight-story warehouse into 147 one- and two-bedroom mixed-income apartments on the top seven floors, aimed at providing affordable housing for working individuals and families in the surrounding neighborhoods. The apartments would range from 750 to 825 square feet for the one-bedroom apartments and from 900 to 1,150 square feet for the two-bedrooom units.

"KCG is honored to be welcomed into the Buffalo community," said company Vice President for Development Marvin Wilmoth. "We were energized by the history of the former A&P warehouse and the diversity of the surrounding community. We definitely saw the beauty of this community which inspired a vision to re-imagine and redesign a residential and commercial structure that could become a community asset."

The $40 million project, designed by architects Carmina Wood Morris DPC, will also include two floors of interior mezzanine parking within the structure's tall first floor, as well as 4,200 square feet of commercial or retail space facing Hamburg Street, bike and tenant storage, a community room, a business center, a leasing office, a fitness and wellness center, outdoor patios and green spaces, and additional outside parking.

The project is being funded with $20.73 million in tax-exempt bond financing through New York State Homes and Community Renewal's Housing Finance Agency; a $5.27 million New Construction Capital Program low-interest subsidy; a $2.76 million Middle Income Housing Program loan from HFA; and a 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit allocation of just over $1 million, leveraging nearly $10 million in equity.

Additionally, the project received federal and state historic tax credits to leverage $7.3 million and $4 million in equity, plus $1 million from HOME funds provided by the city's Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.

"The development of the AP Lofts at Larkinville is another example of the great strides that we are making in the transformation of Buffalo, as well as the continued growth in the Larkin District," Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said. "This $40 million project is a win-win, breathing new life into an historic building, while helping us to meet the growing demand for new housing in Buffalo."

KCG already completed the environmental cleanup of asbestos and other contaminants in the building. RP Oak Hill Building Company will oversee the construction, which will include carving a hole through the center of the building to create an inner courtyard.

Crews are already at work inside the hollowed-out and cavernous building, which is surrounded by protective fencing, as piles of debris lay outside.

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