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Former Cloister Restaurant site on its way to becoming Twain Tower

The site of the former Cloister Restaurant – and the onetime home of Mark Twain – is well on its way to becoming a three-story mixed-use development with both residential apartments and medical offices in a prime location.

Chiropractor Scott A. Croce, brother of well-known restaurateur and Statler City owner Mark Croce, is pouring $4.5 million into the project at 468 Delaware Ave., at the corner of Virginia Street. The new building, which will be called Twain Tower, was designed by architect Karl Frizlen. R&P Oak Hill is the general contractor.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-October. The first two floors will be 14,000 square feet of commercial office space for medical-related businesses, while the third floor will have nine residential apartments. Another three apartments will be located in the separate carriage house on the property. Seven of the apartments have two bedrooms, while the other five are one-bedroom units.

So far, the second floor will host a radiology practice, a massage therapy group and a durable medical equipment company, Croce said, while he has a “tentative tenant” for the first floor. All are “ancillary” to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which was a major impetus behind Croce’s project.

Croce acquired the property in September 2009 for $460,000, buying it from developer Anthony Trusso.

“I waited to see how the Medical Campus was going to spread,” he said. “Once I realized that it was a major economic engine for the city, I decided to do my development project, and to maximize the site plan as a result of the medical campus.”

As a result, all of the apartments feature “high-end” amenities, he said. Four are already leased even before construction starts, with two of the new tenants being tied to the medical campus.

“That was all done with having all the researchers coming in, knowing that they’d want high-end apartments,” he said.

Twain lived on the site while he was in Buffalo from 1870 to 1871. The back quarter of the property includes the historic carriage house from Twain’s time that is now part of the larger 9,497-square-foot building.