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Student housing OK'd for Main Street near Hertel

Residents of Bethune Lofts and nearby buildings are about to get some new neighbors: about 300 college students.

A Utah developer is now free to proceed with his proposal for a new student-housing complex at 2929 Main St., transforming an old multibuilding manufacturing complex into a new residential community. The $30 million project, which already received a package of zoning variances, was approved by the Buffalo Planning Board on Monday after two months of consideration.

David Freeman's DF Fusion Investments of Provo, Utah, plans to convert the facility formerly occupied by metal-finishing company Keystone Corp. into apartments aimed at graduate students at the University at Buffalo and other nearby colleges. The 4.4-acre site is located near the LaSalle Metro Rail station, the William Price development and McCarthy Park.

The project includes 230 parking spaces, but some neighbors expressed concerns about a potential flood of students parking on neighborhood streets. Attorney Marc Romanowski, representing DF Fusion, noted that many of the renters would be using public transit, not cars. "A lot of them do not bring vehicles to schools. There's not a big need for it," he said.

Additionally, the city's Green Code does not require a specific number of parking spaces for a particular project, but rather allows for market-driven decisions. And Romanowski said DF Fusion is prepared to open discussions with the city and individual property owners to obtain additional parking if needed.

Board members agreed.

"From my experience at work, a lot of these students will be on bicycles and public transportation because there's so much concern about the cost of parking on the Medical Campus," said vice chairwoman Cynthia Schwartz, who works at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "I think there are sufficient parking spaces for what is proposed. If people wish to park on a public street, they're going to park on a public street."

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