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Plans made for tenants displaced by new Franklin Street project

Ellicott Development Co.’s plan to build a new 12-story hotel, apartment and office tower in downtown Buffalo will displace more than a dozen tenants of a small apartment building, which will be demolished.

William Paladino, owner and CEO of Ellicott, confirmed that the 12-unit building at 329 Franklin St. is under contract to be acquired from Sinatra & Company Real Estate, which has owned it since August 2014. The four-story, 90-year-old building sits on the corner of Franklin and West Tupper streets, precisely where Ellicott plans to build the tower on top of a parking ramp.

Paladino would not say how much he is paying for the building, which is assessed at $200,000. But said he hopes to close the purchase by early spring, followed “soon after” by demolition and the start of construction of the $70 million to $75 million complex.

Paladino said most apartment leases in the city are six months to a year, so he and Nick Sinatra plan to contact the existing tenants over the next 30 days to talk about how to accommodate them in other buildings the two developers own.

“We’d like to relocate them and make them comfortable again, either in one of Nick’s properties, or if Nick is unable to accommodate them, I’d be happy to show them some of our properties in the area,” Paladino said. “We’d try to put them in the same quality apartment for the same price they’re in now. It won’t be any more than they’re paying, unless they wanted something different.”

If necessary, “if we have to wait out a few leases, we’ll wait them out, but most of them are not long-term leases,” he said.

Ellicott plans to construct the 300,000-square-foot tower adjacent to the Buffalo Christian Center at 500 Pearl St., which the developer bought in 2014. Plans call for a six-floor parking ramp with 390 spaces, a three-floor hotel with 109 to 112 rooms, two floors of 28 apartments and one floor of office space. The tower would be linked to the 70,000-square-foot Christian Center, which would house the lobby, a lounge area, a cafe, banquet and meeting spaces, a basement pool and spa, and back-of-house functions. The building’s Forbes Theatre remains home to Road Less Traveled Productions.

“It’s a good project for the city of Buffalo and for that area,” he said. “It fits in well, and we think it accomplishes what we want to accomplish.”

Paladino said demolition is necessary because that space is included in the design of the parking ramp, which is critical to the project due to the shortage of parking in the vicinity. “That area is one of the most congested areas in downtown,” he said. “In order to do a project there, we had to have our own parking structure.”

The project received zoning variances this week from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and was subject to a public hearing at the city Planning Board early in the week. It’s expected to win final approval later this month.