City planners Tuesday approved a $25 million housing complex on Forest Avenue designed to attract SUNY Buffalo State students.
The 10-building complex planned for 100 Forest Ave. would include 176 suite-style apartments that could house as many as 592 students.
Two community activists at Tuesday’s meeting objected to the plan, saying the proposed building style doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood,
“The neighborhood doesn’t look like that,” Daniel Sack, of the Campaign for a Greater Buffalo, told the board as he pointed to a drawing of the apartment complex.
“It feels like a fortress,” added Barbara Rowe, of Vision Niagara.
But Mark Valley, who has a business nearby, said the project will be a huge improvement to the area, which is now plagued by drugs and prostitution.
“It’s a plus in my eyes,” he said, noting that the building now on the property has been vacant for 10 years.
Planners said the developers had, as requested, held a community meeting to discuss the plan with neighbors and made some design changes requested by North District Councilman Joseph Golombek Jr.
As a result, the developers increased the amount of brick facade on the project.
The apartments would be built on an 11-acre parcel along Forest Avenue and Danforth Road that was, until recently, the home of the now-closed Contract Pharmaceuticals. The property is about four blocks west of the college campus.
Developer DHD Ventures hopes to start construction in June and finish by August 2016.
The apartments will be open to anyone, but are targeted at Buffalo State students.
Part of the plan includes a security gate to control entrance to the apartments.
Sack and Rowe objected to having a gated community, saying there are other, better ways to provide security.
“A gated community? This would be a first for Buffalo,” Sack said.
But planners approved of the concept, with one noting that the project is targeted at students, and parents would prefer dropping their children off at housing that has a security gate.