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North Buffalo apartments, field house for Nardin are among projects approved

Buffalo city planners gave the go-ahead Tuesday to a series of proposals for a new apartment complex on the site of a historic North Buffalo church, a new athletic field house for Nardin Academy, a new Mexican restaurant in a former downtown warehouse on Ellicott Street and a new “urban farmhouse” on the West Side.

Nardin, one of the area’s most prominent private schools, received approval from the city Planning Board to construct a one-story indoor complex with six squash courts, a large indoor turf practice field, locker rooms for both boys and girls, a prepackaged food concessions area and offices.

The pre-engineered building with a sloped roof would be constructed at 1803 Elmwood Ave., near Hertel Avenue, on part of the site of a Mod-Pac Corp. facility, where Nardin would demolish a portion of the existing one-story masonry and steel industrial building but retain the concrete floor slab as a base. The project is designed by architect Jake Schneider.

Additionally, the Planning Board backed a project by Niagara Falls-based Apollo Dismantling Services LLC and Sutton Architecture of Williamsville for a three-story apartment complex on the site of the now-demolished former Korean United Methodist Church at Colvin and Tacoma avenues in North Buffalo.

The $3 million Bell Tower Lofts project, which had been scaled back from the original proposal for 40 apartments, now includes 29 market-rate apartments in 30,000 square feet of total space, with the prominent bell tower of the onetime North Park Baptist Church incorporated in the middle as a “beacon.” The footprint of the complex was also reduced significantly to pull it away from a neighboring house, while ensuring enough parking to avoid spillover onto neighborhood streets.

The project will include one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 667 square feet to 1,308 square feet.

Also, veteran chef and restaurateur Richard Hamilton was approved to convert a 2,900-square-foot L-shaped warehouse, at 291 Ellicott, near Broadway, into a sit-down taco restaurant with a bar, an outdoor deck on a former parking lot and possibly a rooftop patio.

The new business, Deep South Taco, would feature nine different versions of tacos and several other specialty items but would not be a full-scale Mexican restaurant.

It would seat 69 people inside, with an additional 65 to 70 on the 1,600-square-foot deck and up to 40 on the rooftop patio.

The $1 million project is the first of three restaurants that Hamilton hopes to open in Buffalo, with two others planned for North Buffalo and Elmwood Village.

Finally, the board gave its assent to plans by the Massachusetts Avenue Project for a permanent “farmhouse” at 387 Massachusetts to offer its services and food market. The nonprofit organization intends to demolish an existing 1½-story pink house on the property and replace it with a new two-story, 9,000-square-foot building with a full basement, which will include a community food training and resource center and a year-round farm stand.