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ZBA rejects variances for Jersey Street firehouse project

The investor group behind a planned remake of the old Jersey Street Firehouse into a tavern and microbrewery suffered a setback after the Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals denied four variance requests for the project.

The Zoning Board rejected the applications, saying it would have a "negative impact on the neighborhood, doesn't fit the character of the neighborhood, and alters the historic character of the neighborhood."

But one of the group's leaders said they're not deterred, noting that the variances aren't central to the heart of the project.

"We'll continue to work with the stakeholders in the community to determine additional options for our current plan," said Adam Pratt, one of the owners of Project X Holdings LLC. He added that many people in the neighborhood support the initiative.

The group is seeking city approvals to renovate the historic century-old building at 310 Jersey into a restaurant, brewery and a studio apartment.

Plans for the $1.6 million project call for facade alterations, an outdoor patio in the front of the building, and erection by Picone Construction of a one-story addition at the rear for the restaurant kitchen. The brewery would be on the west or southwest side of the building, while the restaurant would be located in the former fire truck bay.

The project requires city Planning Board approval and an adaptive re-use permit from the Common Council. It also needed the variances for the rear addition, for lot coverage and both the side and rear yards. The Council will review the application on Tuesday afternoon.

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 was home to Engine House No. 2 and Hook and Ladder No. 9 until it was decommissioned in 1997. It's had three other owners prior to Project X, which bought it for $435,000 in February 2017.

Separately, the Zoning Board approved variances for a retail expansion at 592 Walden Avenue, at Bailey Avenue; a car wash at 3444 Bailey Ave.; and the conversion of a corner store into the Ferry Avenue Market at 966 East Ferry St. But it tabled a plan for a new Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop at 2200 South Park Avenue.

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