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Ellicott Development gets green light on two projects

Two potential projects that have been on the drawing board at Ellicott Development Co. for years will now proceed after the Buffalo Planning Board gave them a green light this week.

A third is poised for approval pending talks with city public works officials.

The Buffalo developer, owned by Carl and William Paladino, plans to convert the former Niagara Lithograph Company building at 1050 Niagara St. into medical offices and apartments.

That will add to the momentum on that stretch of the city's West Side, where several developers are tackling multiple mixed-use redevelopment projects in old industrial buildings. Ellicott just completed a conversion of 960 Busti Avenue into a residential and commercial project, while constructing a new two-story building at 1088 Niagara with a Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop and three apartments.

"We've been doing quite a bit of work the last few years on Niagara Street at the southern end," said Tom Fox, the company's director of development.

The 90,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1903 and occupied until the last half of the 20th century, but has been mostly vacant for more than 30 years. The building is just two stories tall along Niagara, but the property slopes by more than 15 feet on one end, exposing both a basement and subbasement level into full floors with river views, where eight apartments are planned.

Ellicott is working with the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service, so the project can qualify for historic tax credits to help with financing.

The developer intends to restore window openings that were filled in with solid block, installing aluminum-clad wood windows meant to replicate the original look based on old photos and renderings. Workers will also construct a pair of "bump-outs" to provide a new entry and handicapped-accessible access to the first floor medical spaces.

"What a difference it'll make on that stretch," said Planning Board member Cynthia Schwartz.

The Paladinos also want to convert a six-story brick structure at 270 Michigan Avenue into a mixed-use building with both commercial and residential space, as well as up to 20 parking spaces.

Located at the corner of Michigan and Carroll Street, it's part of a larger seven-building complex at the corner, most of which is fully occupied, including by the Buffalo office of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. It dates back to the late 1800s, when it was built for the Buffalo Envelope Co., which actually occupied it until the early 1980s.

But it's been largely vacant ever since, except for use as storage on several floors.

Ellicott plans to renovate it into three floors of commercial office space and three floors of apartments, while restoring the exterior appearance of the historic 23,000-square-foot building by installing new aluminum windows designed to match a handful of original steel windows that still remain. The original first-floor storefront is intact, and Ellicott will put in an additional new storefront in a former garage space, as well as install a new elevator and stairs. The developer is again working with SHPO and the Park Service.

"The building's in pretty good shape structurally and physically with the exterior," said Fox.

Finally, the board tabled a project around the corner, at the former Seneca Plumbing Supply building at 192 Seneca St., over concern about a long "curb cut" parallel to the street that had been used for years as parking by store patrons.

Board members and staff questioned if city officials would allow that parking area to remain.

192-seneca-street

Ellicott acquired the three-story building six years ago from the Seneca Plumbing owners, who were only using the first floor and some storage space above, but vacated for a new location. The former wood windows on the upper two levels had long since been blocked with masonry and repainted to match the red brick, but Ellicott plans to reopen them.

The building dates to the late 19th century, and Ellicott is again working with SHPO and the Park Service.

The developer plans to reuse the first two floors as commercial space while turning the third floor into a pair of two-bedroom apartments and a couple of one-bedroom units. On the outside, workers will restore wood windows and doors, using components of some remaining originals, and will replace the existing storefront using the original layout designs. A pair of recessed entrances will remain, while the signboard will be refaced and the parapet repaired.

Ellicott will also hire Buffalo Plaster to recreate and reset decorative cast masonry features around the sides and heads of window spaces.

The project will be reconsidered on Nov. 7.

"These have been on and off the table for many years, and now is the time when we're going to push them forward, and we're very excited about that," Fox said.

In other actions, the Board also:

 

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