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Apartment complex to target ECC students

An East Amherst real estate development company plans to convert a former paper company warehouse in downtown Buffalo into an 80-unit apartment complex targeting Erie Community College students and other young adults.

Regent Development is planning a $15 million makeover for the six-story former Alling & Cory Co. building at 136 North Division St. and an adjacent property. In addition to renovating the sprawling, L-shaped warehouse into 60 apartments, the developer plans to convert a pair of two-story buildings on the site into an additional 20 residences.

Regent President David A. Huck said the furnished, affordable apartments will be something new for the downtown market.

"It's the step beyond a dormitory. It's a great way to get a sense of independent living with a built-in package of amenities," he said. "It's no coincidence we want to be near ECC, but our tenant market is much broader than ECC students."

The apartments will come with beds, couches, desks, appliances, Internet access, cable TV and other utilities and will be offered at "student-friendly" rental rates. The mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments will have rents ranging from $950 to $1,400 a month.

Interim ECC President William D. Reuter said having affordable housing so close to the campus should help the college's enrollment efforts.

"We see it as a win-win for ECC and downtown," Reuter said. "It gives our students another choice of where to live and should help us compete with other colleges that offer the dormitory experience."

Reuter said that while ECC has no ties to the apartment project and no role in its approval, the developer has met with college officials to detail the plans. Reuter and other college representatives plan a July trip to visit a Regent apartment complex adjacent to Fredonia State College.

Jeremy Dwyer, of Silvestri Architects, said the layout and condition of the circa-1930s warehouse make it a good candidate for residential use.

"It will have an urban, industrial feel to it," Dwyer said, noting that the building's brick interior walls, support columns and exposed duct work will be intergrated into the design of the apartments.

The Buffalo Planning Board got a first look at concept drawings and site plans for the project as Regent kicked off the approval process Tuesday. Formal drawings are expected to be submitted to the city next month, and a preliminary timetable calls for a fall start to renovation efforts. The target completion date is fall 2008.

Regent does not yet own the project sites but has purchase contracts with both owners. AC Eagle, owner of the Alling & Cory building, bought the complex in 2002 for $800,000.

The project site will encompass an entire downtown block, bounded by North Division, Elm and Eagle streets and Michigan Avenue.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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