A small Buffalo historic developer who has specialized in restoring long-neglected homes and other buildings in Allentown is branching into hospitality with a proposal to turn a Delaware Avenue home near Gates Circle into a small boutique hotel.
Noel Sutton's Sutton Development Group wants to transform a three-story brick-and-masonry building at 1296 Delaware into the Viceroy Hotel, with nine rooms and off-street parking for guests. In the process, he plans to "meticulously resurrect this very special E.B. Green-built property," according to his application to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which granted a needed variance on Wednesday.
"The project would fit perfectly into the existing fabric of Delaware Avenue," Sutton wrote.
The 5,622-square-foot building, located at the corner of Delaware and Lancaster avenues, had been a private home with a first-floor doctor's office, but was listed for sale in 2005 and has been vacant since. Sutton sought the variance to allow the $1 million conversion, contending that the 117-year-old building "is poorly suited and undesirable as a home."
"Unfortunately, the unique combination of single-family home with first-floor commercial space, coupled with the busy, changing landscape of Delaware Avenue, has rendered this property unsellable," according to Sutton's variance application. "In 12 years on the market, 1296 Delaware has been considered financially unfeasible to every buyer who walked through its doors."
Besides the "strange first floor commercial space," Sutton claims the location is problematic because Delaware Avenue has become "increasingly commercialized," so it's "out of place." It's right next to the 152-unit Gates Circle Apartments, while the new Canterbury Woods complex is being constructed across the street, with 53 senior living units. It's also near Brylin Hospital, Canisius High School, several law firms and a vacant medical supply facility.
"People do not want to live on a busy corner, between two high-rise apartment buildings, across the street from a hospital and a vacant, neglected business," Sutton wrote. "This property no longer makes sense as a home due to the changed character of its surroundings."
Sutton started rehabbing and redeveloping properties 18 years ago, beginning with old homes in the Allentown neighborhood. More recently, he converted a former liquor store into Savoy, a trendy bar with a neoclassical marble facade, and he now owns buildings housing five restaurants.
He also restored the Coatsworth Mansion and converted 244 Allen St. into The Chelsea. His biggest project is his transformation of a four-story structure at 228 Allen Street into the Puritan, a six-unit luxury apartment building with two first-floor commercial spaces.