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Housing eyed for 23-acre site in North Buffalo

A North Buffalo land owner is offering up a former railroad right-of-way as the next great place for urban residential development.

Businessman David Gordon has put a $2.5 million price tag on the 23-acre parcel of land that fronts Colvin Avenue and extends east along the former rail bed to Starin Avenue. The property is bounded by St. Lawrence Avenue on the North and Taunton Place on the South.

Alan Hastings, of Hastings Cohn Real Estate, who is handling the sale, has posted the property on LoopNet, a national real estate Web site.

"We think we've been in contact with most of the residential developers in our market, so we thought we'd try some out of town exposure," Hastings said. "We've gotten some interest. There are no offers in writing yet, but there are discussions."

The property, which is zoned R1 and R2, could accommodate more than 100 single family homes and another 23 two family residences under one of the site plans Hastings and Gordon have discussed.

This is the second major residential development floated for North Buffalo in recent weeks. Natale Builders, of Clarence, has proposed constructing a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and senior apartments on a 30-acre site, located directly east of Gordon's property, along the same rail bed.

The site Natale is eyeing for its $40 million project is owned by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

Gordon purchased the bulk of his parcel from the NFTA in 2003 for $100,000. He had previously owned property at 529 Colvin Ave., at the entrance to the former rail property, where a 17,000-square-foot warehouse now stands.

Residents on St. Lawrence Avenue and Taunton Place raised concerns in 2005 when Gordon began bulldozing the raised earth berm that serves as a physical buffer between the densely populated neighborhood and the vacant land. They questioned whether Gordon had proper permits to clear the site, as well as how future development might affect plans for a public recreational pathway along the rail corridor.

According to the NFTA, the agency retained rights-of-way access to the property as part of its deal with Gordon, which will make the public greenway a component of future development on the site.

Shoshone Park area residents have raised similar questions related to the Natale proposal. The transportation agency said the same rights-of-way requirement would apply to any sale of NFTA rail corridor property to Natale for its project.

Hastings said Natale's residential proposal and recent construction of more than 30 new homes on a similar site on the east side of Main Street in the Main-LaSalle Place development demonstrate an appetite for more new housing in North Buffalo.

"There aren't that many places in an established city like Buffalo where there's room to do a large housing development, so this site presents an interesting opportunity," Hastings said.

The real estate agent said while his client is hoping to sell the 23-acre site to a single developer, he would consider dividing the property. "It just makes more sense for a single developer to come in and put in the roads, sewers, electric and other infrastructure to get things going, but anything is possible," he added.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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