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Mixed-use project eyed for 810 Main St. in downtown Buffalo

Legacy Development is seeking city approval to transform the four-story building at 810 Main St. in downtown Buffalo that houses Artvoice on the ground floor into part of a larger mixed-use complex stretching back toward St. Louis Place.

Frank A. Chinnici’s plan would create 18 market-rate apartments in a 42,000-square-foot facility that would include both the brick building facing Main and a new one to be constructed on the site of a one-story concrete block warehouse in the rear. A small connector building between them would house the elevator and stairs, said Thomas R. Kujawa, of Schneider Design Architects PC.

The Artvoice building currently has three 2,000-square-foot apartment spaces, one on each of the upper three floors and all currently empty, and Chinnici plans to maintain that design, with renovations. The rest of the new apartments, which would range in size from 800 to 1,100 square feet, would be in the new structure that would use the foundation and walls of the old warehouse, with three additional floors built on top of it. Rents have not yet been determined, but the units are being aimed at workers at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The ground floor of the new structure would feature covered parking for tenants.

“We’re proposing to adaptively reuse it,” Kujawa said. “Frank’s putting in great apartments to service the demand.”

The $8 million project, which would be mostly brick, with concrete windowsills, is in the Allentown historic district, and would qualify for federal and state historic tax credits of up to 40 percent of the cost – a key part of the project’s financing. Chinnici said he would like to start demolition and construction on the warehouse portion this summer, followed by the historic renovation piece. Work would finish within 12 to 14 months, enabling the building to open when the nearby John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences buildings are completed.

The project, which received its first look by the Buffalo Planning Board on Monday, will be formally reviewed March 7. It also needs approval from the Buffalo Preservation Board, as well as zoning variances.

Chinnici also owns an empty lot on the other side of St. Louis Place, where he said he would like to build another new residential project eventually.

In other matters, the Planning Board:

• Scheduled a public hearing for March 7 to review a new roof design for DHD Ventures’ proposed student housing project at 100 Forest Ave. The $30 million project, which will create 176 apartment units with 592 student beds, was previously approved in January 2015, and DHD has secured the property and received building permits.

Since then, though, it has also completed architectural designs. All the colors and materials are essentially the same as before. But the previously flat roof with parapets is now being changed to a sloped design to better deal with heavy snow, and the mechanical systems will no longer be on the roof. Kulback’s Construction, of Lancaster, is handling the work, which is expected to begin with foundations “as soon as the weather breaks,” said DHD project manager Travis McVickers. The opening is slated for August 2017.

• Tabled the proposed Deep South Taco restaurant on Hertel Avenue for a month, until March 7, to allow more time for the developer to address neighborhood concerns.

• St. John Baptist Community Development Corp. withdrew the application to build the Sweet Pea market in the Fruit Belt neighborhood. The project will be completely changed and resubmitted.