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Condo sales have a dual outlook

One-third of the condominiums available for purchase at the Historic Warehouse Lofts project in downtown Buffalo have been sold, but not necessarily for the owners to live in.

Architect and developer Jake Schneider, who spent $7.5 million to renovate the former paper warehouse a the 30-unit residential building at 210 Ellicott St., is in the midst of turning those rental apartments into for-sale condos. That would make it only the fourth major condo building downtown, and the first to do so through the three-year formal conversion process.

The 13 one-bedroom apartments and 17 two-bedroom units range in price from $215,000 to $365,000, depending on size and location in the building. An offering circular was approved by the state last year, and current tenants were given the right of first refusal to buy their unit or another in the building before the sale was opened up more broadly.

As of now, Schneider said, 10 units are under contract, with at least two of the buyers planning to rent them out as investment properties. Most are planning to live in them now, he said, but “I’m finding that most of the condos … are selling because people are buying them as long-term investments.”

He said the buyers cite the positive cash flow, the equity from mortgage payments and the potential for big appreciation because of “a robust downtown housing market.”

The seven-story building, which is between Eagle and Clinton streets, is a 65,000-square-foot former warehouse originally built in 1913 for Seneca Paper Co. and later used by AM&A’s Department Store. Schneider bought it in 2007 for $650,000 from developer David L. Sweet.

The building has 8,800 square feet of commercial space on the first and second floors, with the lobby, common areas, parking and the offices for Campus Labs. The apartments, ranging in size from 950 square feet to 1,650 square feet, are on the third through seventh floors.

The Historic Warehouse Lofts project joins the pricier Pasquale at Waterfront Place; the Avant, on Delaware Avenue at West Huron Street; and the City Centre, at Main and West Chippewa streets, as the downtown core’s first condo projects.