The Buffalo Planning Board Monday night gave the OK to developer Nick Sinatra’s $4.3 million proposal to renovate a historic former home for unwed mothers near Gates Circle into a new apartment building.
Sinatra & Company Real Estate plans to restore and convert the former Ingleside Home at 70 Harvard Place into 24 market-rate apartments, with a basement commercial laundry operation.
The three-story Georgian Colonial brick complex housed the Community Action Organization for the last 40 years, but was originally built in 1929 for Ingleside. Sinatra bought it in April for $1 million.
The site is just off Main Street, and two blocks from Gates Circle, where TM Montante Development has planned a remake of the 6.7-acre former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital that will include up to 500 residential units, a grocery store, a fitness facility and street-level retail. Canterbury Woods is constructing a six-story senior community at Gates Circle, while People Inc. has proposed a senior building on a parking lot at Linwood and Lancaster avenues.
"This is a wonderful bookend to the People Inc. project," said Planning Board member Cynthia Schwartz.
Sinatra's project will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units on the first three floors, plus one large two-bedroom garden-level unit on the lower level. That bottom level will also house tenant storage and the wash-and-fold-style laundry, which will be contracted to a third-party but run mostly for the tenants.
"Given its location in the building, it would be difficult to market it to others besides the tenants," said architect Jonathan Morris, of Carmina Wood Morris PC. "There’s no street presence in terms of signage."
The adaptive reuse project will be done in accordance with standards set by the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service to qualify for state and federal tax credits. Aside from some masonry or slate roof repairs and restoration, no exterior changes are planned, other than a handicapped ramp at the front entrance. The building already has an elevator.
Sinatra also plans to keep outside greenspace and the former Head Start playground.
"We're very excited about this project," said John Lewis Bryant of the Oxford Square Block Club. "I'm a neighbor of this project, so I'm very much supportive of it."