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Historic Jersey Street firehouse targeted for brewery, restaurant

For more than 100 years, since the days of horse-drawn carriages, Buffalo firefighters emerged from a historic firehouse on Jersey Street to fight blazes on the city's West Side.

The bells have been silent for more than 20 years, ever since the station was closed as part of a fire department consolidation in 1997. But they may soon be ringing out something new: last call.

An investor group that purchased the Jersey Street Firehouse last February is now seeking an adaptive-reuse permit from the city to convert the building at 310 Jersey into a tavern and "industrial artisan microbrewery."

The application by architect Anne Dafchik, on behalf of Project X Holdings LLC, cites an opportunity to "add value to the area" by making the neighborhood landmark into a "community amenity" once again.

Plans for the $1.6 million project call for facade alterations, an outdoor patio in the front of the building, and construction of a one-story addition at the rear by Picone Construction. Besides the restaurant and brewery, the building would also include a studio apartment, the document says.

The application is slated to come to the Common Council on Tuesday for a first airing, but a community meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, at 453 Porter Ave.

"Everybody's concerned about the proposal. We just want to know more about it. We just want to know what exactly they have proposed for this establishment," said Andrew Goldstein, vice president of the Fargo Estate Neighborhood Association. "They are proposing a pretty good-sized brewery house and restaurant, and so it's going to impact the neighborhood in some manner, and we just want to make sure we understand it correctly."

Constructed in 1875, the L-shaped brick building features a mansard roof in the Second Empire style of architecture, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. A hook-and-ladder bay was added in 1897, and the 12,300-square-foot building was rebuilt in 1917 after – ironically – suffering severe damage from a fire.

The 2.5-story brick building, located at the corner of Jersey and Plymouth Avenue near Kleinhans Music Hall, was home to Engine House No. 2 and Hook and Ladder No. 9 until it was decommissioned in 1997. It was occupied by paving contractor Beartooth Industries LLC through May 2011, and was owned by Walter Edwin Constantine III, but was acquired for $325,000 in October 2014 by a locally based investor group that included Steven J. Weiss, partner at law firm Cannon Heyman & Weiss.

Weiss' group, known as 310 Jersey Street LLC, had planned an adaptive reuse of the building to convert it into four high-end apartments on the second and third floors, with an artist's studio on the first floor alongside commercial space and storage areas. They had hired TRM Architects for the project, which was supposed to start in the summer of 2015.

Instead, the group sold it to Project X, which includes Patrick Clark of Buffalo, in February 2017 for $435,000.

Separately, the Common Council will also consider on Tuesday a special-use permit application by Dennis Glenn and Robert Burns to convert a 14-seat take-out restaurant called A Street Meatball Market at 23 Allen St. into a 14-seat sit-down restaurant with beer and wine sales.

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