All but one of the condominiums available for purchase in a downtown warehouse conversion project have now been sold, demonstrating at least some newfound appeal for residents to own an apartment in the city's core.
And the only remaining unit – a one-bedroom apartment on the third floor of the seven-story Historic Warehouse Lofts building – is "still getting a lot of interest," said building owner Jake Schneider.
"We went well beyond our expectations in terms of the receptiveness of the marketplace, and we couldn’t be happier," said Schneider, an architect and developer.
Western New York real estate investors have long questioned if there is much of a condo market in downtown Buffalo, citing the lack of interest in the past given the affordability of single-family homes and the historically low rental rates for apartments. But the sale of 29 of the 30 units at 210 Ellicott St. after just one year of marketing represents a successful gamble for Schneider, and may indicate a shift in the marketplace, as downtown living has grown in appeal among younger professionals and empty-nesters.
"I think there is a market for sure," Schneider said. "The rapidity of our particular sell-off may have been due to some pent-up demand. But at the right price point, there is a whole market segment that came into play."
The key is the pricing. Where previous major condo efforts were priced in the upper six-figures or over $1 million, Schneider's one- and two-bedroom condos sold at prices between $215,000 and $365,000. And the bigger and pricier ones actually sold faster, he said.
"I believe people want to own properties in the downtown," Schneider said. "There is certainly a market at the right price."
Located between Eagle and Clinton streets, the seven-story Historic Warehouse Lofts was a 65,000-square-foot former warehouse originally built in 1913 for Seneca Paper Co., and later used by AM&A's Department Store. Schneider bought it in 2007 from David L. Sweet for $650,000 and converted it into apartments and 8,800 square feet of commercial space on the first and second floors for the lobby, common areas, parking and offices for Campus Labs. The apartments, located on the third through seventh floors, range in size from 950 square feet to 1,650 square feet.
Schneider and his investor partners, seeking to free up some capital for other projects, decided to convert the rental units to condo, and began selling them in 2015 after obtaining state and city approvals.