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Buffalo Planning Board puts Pierce-Arrow building plans on hold

Ambitious plans to convert the historic former Pierce-Arrow Motor Co. administration building and two nearby structures into a new apartment building with indoor parking will have to wait at least two weeks for approval. That will give the Common Council time to hold a community meeting for neighbors to hear more about the plans.

The Buffalo Planning Board on Monday night tabled the $30 million project by Brooklyn-based Read Property Group and North Buffalo businessman Joseph Hecht, citing the request by Council Member Joseph Golombek.

Nevertheless, the project at 1695-1723 Elmwood Ave. has support from a key board member. “It’s a great project,” said Horace Gioia.

And Hecht, who owned the sprawling property until he sold it to Read Property in May, is eager to get started.

“I have had this building for a while,” said Hecht, who bought it in 2005. “We’re restoring a beautiful building.”

Hecht and Read want to turn the 123,099-square-foot main building into 107 apartments, while converting two secondary buildings into 64 parking spaces for residents. The apartments will include a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, including some loft apartments on the second floor, where the ceilings are 19 feet high. That will bring the total square footage to over 150,000 square feet.

“The building is perfectly sized for what we want to do with it,” Hecht said. “It’s a simple layout. We’re not re-creating the wheel or floorplates.”

Plans by Flynn Battaglia Architects also call for new landscaping at two entry points along Elmwood, plus a full exterior renovation that includes replacing all the windows, cleaning up the masonry and restoring some of the historic features. The developers will also replace the roof and re-create the historic canopy entrance based on old drawings, as well as restore a copper sign. Another eight handicapped spaces will also be in back, with additional parking in front.

The project seeks to capitalize on the reinvestment and redevelopment throughout the city, including in the neighborhood around the Pierce-Arrow buildings, where developer Rocco Termini has created three successful new apartment buildings.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, so Read and Hecht are working with the state Historic Preservation Office, enabling them to obtain both state and federal historic tax credits to help with financing.

Hecht said he is also seeking tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency as an adaptive re-use project.

In other matters, the Planning Board:

• Gave the green light to a proposal by Tonawanda orthodontist and real estate developer Peter A. Rouff, who wants to renovate the three-story former Roxys nightclub building at 884 Main St. into a mixed-use facility.

The project calls for a first-floor restaurant, second-floor offices and two third-floor apartments in the 1870s Italianate building. Plans include complete restoration of the exterior, windows, porch, and wooden doors, while moving the second-story stair tower on the south side to the rear. There would be three parking spaces in the rear, green space in front, a wrought-iron fence, and a concrete walk with stone pavers.

The project was already approved by the Buffalo Preservation Board on Sept. 1.

• Approved Ellicott Development Co.’s modifications to the facade of 905 Elmwood Ave., following a community forum at Lafayette Presbyterian Church in early August that led to changes in the design. The building will have 21 apartments and a restaurant.

• Approved a 1,400-square-foot addition to O’Connell’s Clothing store, 3240 Main St.

• Approved a one-year extension for a plan by New York City-based community development firm CB Emmanuel to convert the former School 63 at 91 Lisbon Ave. into apartments. The developer has mostly finalized its financing and other approvals, including a National Register of Historic Places listing, but ran out of time on its previous plan approval.

• Approved a garage and used-car lot at 1491 Broadway.

• Recommended approval by the Common Council of restaurant expansions at 1368 Hertel Ave., 1504 Hertel Ave. and 2134 Seneca St.

• Tabled a plan to construct a colonial red-brick complex of seven three-story, three-bedroom row houses at 2040 Delaware Ave. The high-end units, with patios, balconies and wrought-iron railings, would be designed for sale, with a homeowners association. Each unit would have two below-grade covered parking spaces.

• Tabled a proposal to construct seven rental townhouses at 151 Botsford Place, pending more details.


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