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Greenleaf & Co. buys mansion on Delaware from Canisius High

Real estate developer Greenleaf & Co. has agreed to buy a prominent Delaware Avenue mansion owned by Canisius High School, likely yielding a hefty payday for the Catholic school on a property that it received as a donation.

Neither Canisius nor Greenleaf would disclose the purchase price for the former Foster Mansion at 891 Delaware Ave., along the so-called Millionaires Row. The one-acre property had been listed by Hunt Commercial Real Estate for the past year at $2.2 million.

The site, formerly home to DeRose Food Brokers, includes an 8,200-square-foot mansion and two large carriage houses, with a total of 19,794 square feet of space. The property also includes 120 parking spaces inside a gated lot.

The property will become the new headquarters for Greenleaf, but the firm has not yet decided in which building it will locate, and it plans to seek prospective tenants to lease the rest of the space, according to a Hunt news release that announced the contract signing. Greenleaf will even consider leasing out the mansion.

Following the closing, Greenleaf plans to begin a $300,000 renovation of the property.

"We are looking forward to moving our operations onto one of the most revered blocks in the city, which boasts unparalleled architecture and historical significance, not to mention quick access to downtown Buffalo," said Jim Swiezy, Greenleaf's president and CEO.

"The jewel of the property is the majestic mansion. It would be a perfect fit for any type of upscale office."

Located between Summer and Bryant streets near Women & Children's Hospital, the restored three-story mansion and carriage houses were built in 1905 as a residence for businessman Orin Foster.

The stone structure later became the headquarters for DeRose Food Brokers until that firm left and owner Michael DeRose donated it to Canisius High School for $1 in December 2006.

The school, located at Delaware and Cleveland Avenue in the former home of Marine Midland Bank founder George F. Rand, had acquired several other residences around the same time, spending $2.1 million over 18 months on five properties that it hoped would enable it to expand.

It eventually converted one mansion across the street from the school to administrative offices but put the Foster home up for sale for $3.3 million in September 2007 because its location three blocks south of Canisius didn't meet the school's needs. The price was later cut to $2.2 million.

The mansion features a European granite and marble exterior, mahogany interior, hardwood floors, leaded glass, wood-burning fireplaces and private offices. Despite its age, it has been updated for modern offices and includes central air conditioning.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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