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Kolkmeyer’s firm buys Pearl Street parking ramp for Main Street buildings

With one newly renovated apartment building now open on lower Main Street, and work underway on a second one two doors down, developer Paul Kolkmeyer knew he needed to provide enough parking to meet his tenants’ needs.

He is filling that gap.

Kolkmeyer’s Priam Enterprises LLC bought a 278-space parking ramp at 93 Pearl St., ensuring he will have enough parking spaces not only for his tenants at The Glenny and The Marin, but also for the banquet facility that he is developing on the lower levels of Marin, formerly the Marine Trust Building. Those buildings are just a block away.

And he’s eyeing further opportunities to offer monthly parking for workers, as well as event parking for Buffalo Bisons games, Pearl Street Brewery and other activities. The building historically has been used only for monthly parking.

“We have already begun talks with other tenants in that general vicinity,” said Mark R. Wolbert, Priam’s director of business development.

Kolkmeyer paid $3.1 million through 93 Pearl Parking LLC to acquire the Buffalo Downtown Garage facility from a White Plains-based parking operator, Victor Perla Associates. Built in 1925, the 97,270-square-foot facility has five levels, including rooftop and basement parking.

The building, which may be one of the oldest parking ramps in the city, has not been kept up, so Kolkmeyer plans to spend more than $2 million more on deferred maintenance, renovations and other improvements that “we’re kicking off immediately,” Wolbert said.

Among other items, he said, the building’s entire facade will receive a facelift, while crews also will put on a new roof to address water problems and install new lighting inside to “make people feel safe.” Workers will also take out solid blocks that have closed off windows, providing more light and airflow into the interior.

“Once that’s done, we believe we’ll have that thing to full capacity fairly quickly,” Wolbert said. “It’s a fixer-upper. It is a solid hunk of concrete.”

The acquisition comes as Kolkmeyer has completed the renovations of the former Stanton Building at 251 Main into The Glenny, a mixed-use facility with 36 apartments and ground-floor commercial space for Priam’s offices and a new restaurant called eCafe that will serve breakfast and lunch. Residents have moved into at least 12 units, with additional active leasing efforts in progress, Wolbert said. ECafe, which also has another location up the street at 487 Main, will occupy 1,500 square feet of storefront space when its build-out is completed by mid-July.

Two doors down, workers are starting on the 14-story Marin, which will include high-end apartments on the upper 11 floors, furnished corporate units on the third floor, and the banquet facility on the first two floors. In the basement, where the old vaults and massive vault doors of Marine Midland Bank still remain, plans call for private dining rooms. The company already booked a wedding for October, so crews have to get the building-wide infrastructure work done quickly and then focus on getting the banquet center finished before turning their attention to the residential units upstairs.

“We are certainly reinvesting in that Main Street corridor there,” Wolbert said.

Priam has not begun pre-leasing in Marin, but officials are counting on more interest after this weekend’s Buffalo Living Tour, which will include both the Glenny and the Marin among the featured new apartment buildings.

In between, Kolkmeyer is converting the lower two levels of the Roblin Building, at 241 Main, into a 49-space parking ramp with a vehicle lift. But that’s not enough parking for all of his needs, leading him to buy the Pearl Street ramp. That connects directly on the first and third floors to the Barnes & Hengerer Building at 268 Main, which the owners of advertising firm Crowley Webb recently purchased from Anthony Kissling. So Kolkmeyer negotiated an easement allowing his tenants to access the Crowley Webb building so they can walk through the corridors in bad weather, emerging on Main Street directly across from The Glenny.