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Paladino proposes new condo tower

Developer Carl P. Paladino wants the city to launch an environmental review that could set the stage for building another condominium tower on the downtown waterfront.

But Paladino said the economic crisis could delay or even scuttle plans to build a 13-story, $22 million tower in his Waterfront Place development.

"We're in uncharted waters right now," Paladino said of the global economic problems. "You have to make sure the market is right before you pull the trigger."

Paladino's Ellicott Development already has built one tower in Waterfront Village, adjacent to the Erie Basin Marina.

He said 29 of the 49 condos have been sold, and a couple of additional units have been leased. If the economy were stronger, Paladino said, the Pasquale tower probably would have been sold out by now.

There's a "limited market" for high-end condos that would cost between $350,000 and $1 million, Paladino said. If the federal stimulus package fails to restore economic stability, he said the market could worsen.

City officials said another concern involves the impact that proposed changes in the state's Empire Zone program could have on incentives for ongoing projects. After Ellicott Development built the first tower, some critics questioned why condo buyers in one of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods were given 10-year property tax breaks as part of the Empire Zone program.

While city leaders and the developer acknowledged the uncertainty swirling around the project's next phase, they said the groundwork should be laid for an environmental review that can often be lengthy.

When the Common Council meets Tuesday, it will consider a request from Mayor Byron W. Brown's administration to authorize the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency to lead the review.

Some waterfront residents already have raised fears that another tower might obstruct shoreline views. City Economic Development Commissioner Brian Reilly said this concern would be one of many issues that would be carefully considered in the environmental study.

But Paladino insisted that the new tower won't impair sightlines for waterfront residents.

"The only thing we would be obstructing is the Thruway view," Paladino said.

Ellicott Development's amended waterfront housing blueprint also calls for a reduction in the number of low-rise townhouses. Several units already have been built, and the revised plan would call for the construction of 12 additional single-family units.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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