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Redevelopment projects to include apartments, office space

Three downtown and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus redevelopment projects are up for consideration by the Buffalo Planning Board next week, as the demand for apartments in the city continues to spur efforts to reuse aging buildings.

The latest projects are conversions of three former office and industrial buildings in downtown Buffalo, Larkinville and the northern side of the Medical Campus.

First, Ellicott Development Co. is seeking to renovate the former W.S. Hein Publishing Co. building at 1285 Main St., at Bryant Street, into a mixed-use project that includes residential, office and possibly warehouse space. Built in 1915, the building has 71,199 square feet of space and was occupied by the legal publishing company until it moved to its new home off North Forest Road in Amherst, near University at Buffalo’s North Campus.

The $8 million project calls for 19 market-rate apartments on the large building’s third floor, with a mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, plus indoor basement parking for the tenants. The units, which could be ready by August, would have polished concrete floors and high ceilings, and are aimed at appealing to the Medical Campus, which is just to the south.

“They will be well received, as there is a lack of higher-end housing in this area,” said Ellicott CEO William Paladino.

Office and medical space is planned for most of the first two floors, with some warehouse or distribution space available on the first floor.

Meanwhile, Mark Croce, the restaurateur and entrepreneur who owns Statler City, is working with Carmina Wood Morris architects to renovate the former Byers Building at 505 Pearl St., near Tupper Street, for residential and commercial use.

Plans call for up to 30 loft-style one- and two-bedroom apartments on the five upper floors, along with a rooftop patio.

The first floor will house a commercial tenant that is already lined up.

Croce would not identify the business but said it is a wholesale and retail printing business with about 15 employees and locations in Kenmore and Buffalo that plans to consolidate operations.

If approved, Croce said, construction would begin in June, with the commercial space occupied by Sept. 1 and the apartments finished in spring 2015.

The six-story building was originally built by the Byers Companies in 1921 as part of the larger “film exchange” district, when Buffalo was a major national hub and distribution center for movies.

The building still has “MGM” printed on it, Croce said, while the nearby Dinosaur BBQ building was used by Universal Studios, and D’Arcy McGee’s building was Warner Bros.

Croce is seeking to have the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And Steven J. Carmina, principal of the architectural firm, said the $6.5 million adaptive reuse project will incorporate state and federal historic tax credits as part of the financing.

“There’s a lot of history to this building,” Croce said. “People didn’t know it until they started digging into it.”

Frontier Group of Companies hired Carmina and Creative Structures Services to redo the former 91,632-square-foot A&P Bakery building at 550 Seneca St., at Hamburg Street. Frontier’s partners, David and Dennis Franjoine and Robert Zuchlewski, bought the building last fall for $385,000.

The $5.4 million project complements the larger $35 million historic renovation by Frontier of the nearby six-story former F.N. Burt Co. paper-box manufacturing plant and warehouse at 500 Seneca.

The 327,900-square-foot facility will be converted into a mixed-use facility, including over 200,000 square feet of class A office space for Frontier’s headquarters and other businesses.

The four-story facility at 550 Seneca, originally a warehouse and distribution building from 1920, includes a connected two-story portion on the west side, Carmina said.

It would include 31 market-rate loft-style apartments – with one, two or three bedrooms – on four floors, plus 18,500 square feet of commercial space with 86 indoor parking spaces on two floors.

Work would start in July and finish by March 2015.

All three projects will be reviewed by the Planning Board on Tuesday.