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Apartment building planned for North Street in Buffalo

One year after demolishing a historic broadcasting building on North Street after it was struck by lightning, First Amherst Development Group is now proposing to reuse the downtown site for a new apartment complex.

First Amherst is seeking a setback variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday to construct a 39-unit apartment building at 19-23 North. The planned four-story building would also include parking.

Officials could not be reached for comment.

The site, located in the Allentown Historic Preservation District near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, had previously been home to an 11,000-square-foot mansion, designed in Second Empire style. Known as Broadcast House, it had at one time been the offices and studio for WEBR/WNED-AM until 1993.

First Amherst bought it in 2006 to return it to residential use, and had planned a $6 million adaptive reuse project to create 25 luxury apartments, using the existing structure as the base. In fact, it had been preparing to start work.

But after a rare direct hit by lightning last July caused substantial structural damage – bringing down a large section of the roof and third floor and leaving a gaping hole in the west side – the developer demolished the long-vacant mansion instead.

In other matters before the Zoning Board:

• Catholic Charities wants to create a health clinic on the first floor of 220 Albany St.

• Nancy Gabriel is seeking permission to use a detached garage and rear yard for a small miniature Shetland pony stable and exercise yard at 605 Auburn Avenue.

• Jamar Moore wants to use a temporary storage trailer for a commercial amusement park at 27 Federal Avenue.

• Patrick Ryan wants to add storage, a prep area and a commercial kitchen for catering to 448 Franklin St., a bright red two-story office building between Virginia and Allen streets.

• Laura Duquette is applying to construct a two-level shipping-container office on a vacant residential lot at 22 Penfield St.