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Buffalo Council OKs reuse of former St. Margaret’s School as apartments, commercial space

A developer’s plan to remake a former school in the heart of the Hertel Avenue business district into apartments and commercial space has been given clear sailing at City Hall.

Common Council members Tuesday offered no comments or objections as Iskalo Development’s project for the former St. Margaret’s School at 1391 Hertel Ave. was presented in documents prepared by the Planning Board, which approved the site plan weeks ago after conducting a public hearing and determining that the undertaking will have no adverse environmental impact.

Council Member Joel P. Feroleto, whose Delaware District includes the former school, said there appears to be no other city planning obstacles facing the project to remake the building into 2,000 square feet of commercial space and 23 apartments ranging in size from 770 to 1,300 square feet.

Iskalo will replace the 1950s-era facade of the building as it faces Hertel, according to the Planning Board. The developer also intends to create a gated and fenced parking area, transplanting three oak trees in the process.

The building will contain new plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. A new plaza will connect the commercial space with Hertel.

It will not be North Buffalo’s first renovation of a church or an ancillary structure into apartments. CSS Construction converted North Park United Presbyterian Church at 700 Parkside Ave. into The Lofts at Warwick. And Frizlen Group Architects intends to convert the St. Rose of Lima School building at 1030 Parkside.

But the St. Margaret’s project will bring dozens of tenants and new merchants to the center of the Hertel Avenue strip, which extends east from Delaware Avenue and has drawn a lively mix of mostly small retailers, bars, restaurants and home-improvement shops. The project at 1391 Hertel could change the streetscape as dramatically as the opening of a new Lexington Cooperative Market on Hertel, planned for this year in the former CVS building between Wallace and Starin avenues.

In other matters Tuesday, the Council raised no objection to the demolition of the 900-space Ellicott-Goodrich Garage at 854 Ellicott St. on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. It’s to be replaced by an 1,825-space parking ramp.