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The Sinclair, Oak Lofts projects to receive $1.5 million in reuse funds

A pair of new loft apartment projects in downtown Buffalo are being recommended for low-interest loans totaling $1.5 million as part of the Buffalo Building Reuse Project to restore underused buildings to active purposes.

Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s The Sinclair at 465 Washington St. and Signature Development Buffalo LLC’s 400 Oak Lofts at 400 Oak St. would each receive a $750,000 loan, if the Buffalo Urban Development Corp.’s downtown committee and board adopt the recommendations of the agency’s staff.

The Sinclair is a $16.04 million redevelopment of the 82,254-square-foot former University at Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center into 45 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with 1,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 10,000 square feet of office space. The building also includes tenant storage, bike storage, a laundry room, and a community room with a kitchen.

Signature’s $12.2 million project by Rocco Termini would construct a mixed-use building with 76 “micro” apartments and 750 square feet of commercial space on a vacant 1.2-acre, 100-car parking lot. Each of the 500-square-foot one-bedroom apartments would be two-story units, with the bedroom upstairs, and tenants would have their own parking space in the underground lot below the building. A rooftop patio is also planned.

The building reuse project, administered by BUDC, is designed to support redevelopment in downtown Buffalo that would reduce office vacancies, add new residential units, reuse existing buildings, introduce first-floor retail, capitalize on other recent public and private-sector investments, and take advantage of public transportation and existing residential clusters. Applications are reviewed by a committee of representatives from BUDC, the city’s Office of Strategic Planning, and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, which originally spearheaded the initiative.

The two projects were among three applications submitted to the city agency for the latest round of the reuse project loan program. The third proposal, Sienna Realty’s $1.42 million plan to renovate 328 North Oak St. into five market-rate apartments and 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, is still being reviewed for $621,000 in funding