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Uniland to redevelop 20 acres in North Buffalo

One of the region's biggest real estate developers is taking aim at North Buffalo in an effort to capitalize on its recent growth.

Uniland Development Co. said Wednesday it will buy and redevelop 20 acres of "prime commercial real estate" at the intersection of Elmwood and Hertel avenues.

Much of the land is currently vacant and is among the few large blocks of land still available along Elmwood Avenue.

“With all of the development nearby, we think this real estate has a lot of potential to offer new services and jobs, and add to the revitalization of this North Buffalo corridor," said Uniland Vice President Michael Montante.

It's located in the midst of commercial districts on Elmwood and Hertel avenues, and near new redevelopment projects that are drawing residents and retailers.

The neighborhood, just south of Regal Cinemas, Tops Markets, Home Depot and other stores, is near several big residential conversion projects by Rocco Termini, Karl Frizlen and that are turning former industrial or warehouse buildings into apartments. Nick Sinatra also recently bought up a host of properties on Elmwood Avenue and one on Hertel Avenue.

The properties targeted for redevelopment by Uniland Development are owned by longtime Buffalo businessman and real estate investor Frank Deni and his family. The properties were not specifically identified by the developer, but Deni's JFD Holdings owns 1820, 1854 and 1984 Elmwood Ave.; 763 and 785 Hertel Ave.; and 15, 19 and 35 Norris Ave.

City records show all are vacant land except for a three-story house on Norris Avenue and a 25,758-square-foot industrial building at 1820 Elmwood Ave. The industrial building was damaged by fire in April 2015.

 

Uniland is teaming up with Buffalo-based private equity fund Blue Cardinal Capital to acquire the land through a limited liability company controlled by the developer. The companies did not say how much they are paying, but a source familiar with the transaction said they will pay $5 million for the first nine acres.

Deni, a veteran businessman who has owned several Buffalo companies and once owned the Buffalo Stallions indoor soccer team, has owned properties in Buffalo, Clarence and Niagara Falls. He sold a parcel in Niagara Falls to the Strangio family's Plati Niagara firm for $1.1 million in 2012. That property is now the site of a 110-room Wingate by Wyndham hotel that opened in April 2015. He also previously sought to market the properties on Elmwood and Hertel avenues to potential tenants.

Deni and his family could not be reached to comment.

“The Deni family had the foresight to assemble a large tract of land many years ago and we are excited to take on the next step in its use,” said Montante, whose father, Carl, owns the development company.

Uniland plans to buy and develop the properties, which include some of the few undeveloped parcels in North Buffalo, in several phases, focusing on retail, office, industrial and residential uses. The firm said it is already in talks with potential tenants and "other interested parties" about meeting the neighborhood's needs. Officials declined to elaborate further on their plans.

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