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Developer eyes six parcels at Elmwood and Forest

The developer who wants to turn Cheektowaga's Kensington Village into a gated community for college students is eyeing a group of properties at the corner of Elmwood and Forest avenues in Buffalo's Elmwood Village.

Chason Affinity Cos., whose resume runs the gamut from patio homes to student-oriented housing, is in final negotiations with longtime owner Hans Mobius to acquire six parcels along the intersection.

"We have it under contract, but it's premature to talk about what we might do. We don't really have plans yet," said Mark Chason, principal of the development firm.

Mobius confirmed that Chason has signed a purchase contract to buy 1109, 1111, 1113, 1119 and 1121 Elmwood Ave., as well as 611 Forest Ave. He declined to disclose a potential sale price but said he expects the deal to close in the next month.

In early 2006, Buffalo developer Sam Savarino gained city approval to construct a $7 million 72-room hotel on the Elmwood site but walked away from the project following neighborhood opposition and concerns about deed restrictions dating back to the 1880s.

When the project unraveled, Savarino also let his purchase contract with Mobius expire.

"It's a shame a couple of people went to court and killed the hotel project, but I don't think this really experienced group will run into the same kind of problems. It's a site that is just begging to be an asset to the neighborhood and the city," Mobius said.

Chason's local resume includes Cobblestone Lane patio homes in Williamsville, Campus Manor Apartments in Snyder, Bethel Estates in Hamburg, Sutton Place Apartments in Amherst and Apple Blossom Estates in Lockport.

The company also has ownership and management ties to large-scale residential developments in Rochester, Potsdam and Phoenix.

And just last week, Chason and business partner Jeffrey Birtch got a green light from the Town of Cheektowaga on a $100 million conversion of the Kensington Village apartments to Collegiate Crossings, a gated community for college students.

Four of the five properties under contract are 1920s-era homes whose ground floors were converted to retail use.

Those retail tenants, which included Don Apparel, Mondo Video, Skunk Tails Glass and HOD Custom Tattoo, along with upstairs residents, departed their spaces last year as Mobius prepared to sell to Savarino.

In recent months, several new shops have taken their spots, but Mobius said they are on month-to-month leases.

"They know the hammer could drop at any time. There's a big "For Sale' out front, so they are very aware they could be out soon," he said.


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