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154-unit student housing complex near UB North Campus moves forward

A large, upscale student housing project planned for a site near the University at Buffalo North Campus in Amherst moved one step closer to reality Thursday night as the town Planning Board recommended two key approvals for the development.

Core Spaces, a major out-of-town developer of student housing, proposes building a 154-unit complex on North Forest Road that would serve students attending the UB campus, which is about one mile south.

The project, known as the Hub at Amherst, is a four-story residential building that Core Spaces would construct on three parcels that total 5.4 acres at North Forest and Bryant Woods South.

Core Spaces has offices in Chicago and Austin, Texas, and is known for developing high-end, off-campus housing across the country. They’ve built projects on their own, or with partners, with student-friendly amenities near the main campuses of the University of Minnesota, the University of Arizona, the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin, among others.

This is Core Spaces’ first project in this region. The Planning Board on Thursday night voted to recommend changing the designation of two parcels, at 2949 North Forest and 2925 North Forest, from suburban agriculture to general commercial, which would allow for multi-family residential use. It is an amendment to the town's Audubon new community development plan, a change that elsewhere in the town would be treated as a rezoning.

The board also recommended removing deed restrictions on a third parcel, at 2915 North Forest, that has the proper land use designation but is part of an office park.

The Town Board now must act on both changes. The project then would come back to the Planning Board for site plan approval.

Jeffery Palumbo, an attorney with Barclay Damon who represents Core Spaces, said he expects the developer would begin construction next year with the hope of finishing in time for students to move in by the start of the fall semester.

The Planning Board on Thursday voted to adjourn a second housing project until its April meeting to give the developer more time to address the concerns of neighbors.

Williamsville developer Robert A. Savarino already has filed an amended version of his plans for upscale apartments on Sweet Home Road, after hearing from residents at a community meeting and at previous Planning Board meetings.

The modified version of the project at 2360 Sweet Home Road, just north of North Ellicott Creek Road and the Lockport Expressway interchange, now calls for rezoning more of the 12-acre site, adds six apartment units to the 79 units in the original proposal and reconfigures the layout of the buildings on the property to create more distance between the apartments and neighbors.

Sean W. Hopkins, Savarino's lawyer, said the developer is committed to taking another look at the project.

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