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Conversion plan for 1225 Niagara Street moves ahead

The owner of a Niagara Street manufacturer received a go-ahead from the Buffalo Planning Board Tuesday night for a $700,000 project to convert a nearby vacant Italianate-style building into a restaurant and three apartments.

William E. Breeser wants to renovate the three-story brick building at 1225 Niagara into a first-floor restaurant, with the apartments occupying the second and third floors. The apartments would include two one-bedroom units of 650 and 615 square feet, respectively, and a two-bedroom, 1,040-square-foot unit. As part of the project, a historic wood staircase will be rebuilt from the first to the second floors, and restored from the second to the third, adding circulation for the units.

Plans by architect Carmina Wood Morris PC and construction manager LeChase Construction of Rochester call for creation of the new ground-floor commercial space and the 3,400 square feet of residential space, in compliance with historic rehabilitation standards, as determined by the National Park Service. Breeser and Morris also are seeking designation of a historic district between Niagara Street and the Belt Line Railroad, and are working with the State Historic Preservation Office.

Breeser is president and owner of Better Wire & Press, at 1255 Niagara. The project, located at the corner of Breckenridge Street and Niagara, is "part of a much larger, long-term redevelopment plan for a number" of properties Breeser owns from Breckendridge to Auburn, "representing significant private capital investment into this burgeoning West Side neighborhood," according to a letter to the Planning Board from architect Jonathan H. Morris.

In all, Breeser owns 35 properties on both sides of that block of Niagara, as well as on Gelstan Street one block to the east. For example, the project on 0.04 acres will also use a 50-space parking lot at 44 Breckenridge, which Breeser already owns.

Breeser has already received a $282,500 grant from the Better Buffalo Fund, through Vision Niagara and the Old First Ward Community Center, to finance the project. The rest of the funding will come from state and federal historic tax credits and private dollars. With the approval in hand, plans call for starting construction in November, and finishing by February.


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