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Warehouse conversion near Canisius College approved

Proposals to convert a two-story vacant warehouse into 34 apartments and expand a headquarters office building for Lactalis American Group got the green light from the Buffalo Planning Board, but a new Hertel Avenue laundromat and a Genesee Street supermarket expansion were tabled because of design concerns.

The board backed a plan by architect-turned-developer Karl Frizlen and partner Jason Yots to turn an existing vacant warehouse at 170 Florida St. into a mix of apartments and 2,000 square feet of office space. Built in 1911, with a two-story brick addition to the east side and some one-story concrete-block additions put on in the 1970s, the 46,000-square-foot building was vacant from the mid-1990s until 2007, and was then used as a commercial salvage operation until a few months ago when Frizlen and Yots bought it. “It was most recently full of doors, sinks, windows, you name it,” said James Baptiste, from The Frizlen Group.

The duo want to spend $6 million to renovate the two-story former George A. Otis Bed Manufacturing factory and warehouse in the Hamlin Park neighborhood near Canisius College into The Mattress Factory, with a blend of mostly two-bedroom apartments and some one-bedroom units. Apartments will range in size from 700 to 1,000 square feet, with market-rate rents from $900 to $1,250 per month. Yots’ Preservation Studios design firm will occupy the office space.

The project has already been approved by the Preservation Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals, and is expected to be finished by summer 2017. “It’s a great project,” said Planning Board member Martha Lamparelli. “It’s an asset to that area.”

Also, Lactalis American, which owns the Sorrento cheese company and Lactalis USA, plans to build a 6,381-square-foot addition to the northeast corner of its existing 19,352-square-foot building at 2376 South Park Ave. – site of one of the company’s two U.S. headquarters buildings. The one-story addition would be designed to match the rest of the facility in appearance. The project will add 17 new parking spaces, for a total of 29, and install two new lightpoles, some additional greenspace, and “rain gardens” to catch runoff.

The board tabled plans to convert a vacant former restaurant building at 1278 Hertel into the Hertel Avenue Coin Laundry, citing inconsistencies in the proposal and the owner’s desire to paint the business name in blue on the architectural red brick. The proposal for the 4,000-square-foot, 24-hour, coin-operated business, with 107 machines, will be reconsidered in two weeks.

The board also tabled a 2,184-square-foot expansion project by Super Price Choppers at 1580 Genesee St., citing the need for more information about truck access. The project, designed to create more space to sell additional items, will come back in two weeks. The store had already expanded last year to add refrigerated and frozen cold-storage space.

The board also:

• Recommended approval by the Common Council of a special zoning district for the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital property, which TM Montante Development wants to convert into a mixed-use residential and retail neighborhood, with over 500 apartment, townhome and condo units, a fitness facility, a grocery store, and other storefronts. If approved, any future projects would still have to come before the Planning Board for site plan approval, but would not need future rezoning.

• Recommended approval by the Common Council of Ciminelli Real Estate’s planned conversion of the former Mentholatum Co. and Garrett Leather warehouse and manufacturing building at 1360 Niagara St. into a mixed-use residential building in the Niagara River Coastal Review Special District.

• Recommended approval by the Common Council of plans by Rigidized Metals Corp. to install two sets of balconies on two sides of a one-story former masonry freight house at 630 Ohio St., in the Buffalo Coastal Special Review District. The balconies would be used to display some of its architectural metal products.

Additionally, the board considered but could not act on a $2.5 million project by Michael Pietrocarlo and Mark McGroarty to convert the former Bethlehem Presbyterian Church at 340 Bird Ave. into a 12-unit condo building. A standard environmental review and a zoning variance are still pending.