Developer and real estate investor Nick Sinatra dropped $12.7 million on a big cluster of properties on Elmwood Avenue and a single parcel on Hertel Avenue, acquiring 10 properties in all from the same seller on Thursday.
In the first transaction, Sinatra & Co. Real Estate's Elmwood Retail Group paid $6.55 million to buy 1256 Hertel and 502, 520, 929, 1116 and 1122 Elmwood from 1256 Hertel Avenue Associates LLC. In the second purchase, the same entity acquired 427, 494, 500 and 1000 Elmwood from 1000 Elmwood Associates LLC, for $6.15 million
Both former owners are controlled by Ramesh L. "Roger" and Bonnie R. Chainani of Amherst, who own Chains Enterprises, a real estate and business firm that also owns Chain's India Boutique and Hong Kong Tailors on Niagara Falls Boulevard.
Roger Chainani said he and his wife have owned the properties for a long time, some as long as 30 years, so "it's about time to let the new blood come in."
"I think Nick will be a very good steward," Chainani said. "He's a very good human being, and he will take care of the tenants."
The Elmwood properties are in a prime location, adjacent to or up the street from the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo campus that Sinatra will be redeveloping in conjunction with Ellicott Development Co. Plans for that project call for a mix of townhomes, condominiums and apartments, along with possibly an urban grocery store, charter school or other features still to be determined. The price tag will likely range between $75 million and $100 million.
The new purchases give Sinatra additional options for new projects around the ambitious mixed-use project that is already planned. In all, the properties host 14 restaurants, along with retail stores and apartments.
"They're great corners," Sinatra said. "I'll buy Elmwood any day of the week, and Hertel is the same thing. Those are the two best streets in the city as it relates to commercial and residential mixed-use."
Chainani said he doesn't think Sinatra will make changes anytime soon. "These are just great properties, and I know Nick will keep them as they are, at least for a while," he said.
Sinatra confirmed his plans for "just owning them and operating them," noting that most of the restaurants and other commercial tenants are in long-term leases that must be honored. On the other hand, the apartments above would turn over every year or two years, so he expects to upgrade those units as they open up.
"Every one of those properties have great tenants. They've been in them for a long time," Sinatra said. "At some point down the road, they could be candidates for future development. But we're long-term buyers and investors, so we're not in any hurry to do anything with any one of the spots."
The sites include:
- The former home of Quaker Bonnet and now Epic restaurants at 427 Elmwood, at Bryant Street, across from the hospital. Constructed in 1920, the three-story, 10,246-square-foot mixed-use building has two retail businesses and a restaurant space on the first floor, with 4,000 square feet of vacant office space on the second floor and two apartments on the third floor.
- The 12,938-square-foot, two-story restaurant building between Hodge and West Utica streets, built in 1910, that houses Tokyo Shanghai Restaurant at 494 Elmwood.
- The three-story, 3,024-square-foot NY Metro Deli building at 500 Elmwood, with the 1,200-square-foot retail space on the first floor, two second-floor apartments and a third-floor loft for storage. It was built in 1920.
- A single-story restaurant building with 2,464 square feet, built in 1925 at 502 Elmwood. Formerly a pizzeria and commissary, it was supposed to be a second location for Lloyd Taco Factory, but will instead feature the House of Hummus.
- A two-story, round-facade retail building at 520 Elmwood, home to Saigon Cafe. Built in 1920, it has 6,992 square feet of space and formerly housed Le Metro.
- A two-story, 3,747-square-foot building at 929 Elmwood. Built in 1915, it's home to Mezza Restaurant & Lounge.
- A 10,560-square-foot retail building at 1000 Elmwood, at the corner with Potomac Avenue, that houses The Market on Elmwood and Ashker's on the first floor, with apartment or office space upstairs. It used to hold an HSBC Bank branch. Built in 1923, it's next to the proposed site of Ciminelli Real Estate's planned Reverie apartment project.
- A two-story, 6,710-square-foot building at 1116 Elmwood with India Gate and Hong Kong Kitchen restaurants. It was constructed in 1920.
- A two-story corner commercial building at 1122 Elmwood, at Forest Avenue, with both Calios and Subway restaurants, as well as a pizzeria. Built in 1910, it has 5,416 square feet.
The property at 1256 Hertel, at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue, is a one-story, 5,000-square-foot building with a curved facade, with a Puerto Rican restaurant and Ideal Furniture Buffalo.
With these purchases complete, and after several other recent transactions, Sinatra said he's now shifting his attention to the hospital reuse project. He and Ellicott still have to finalize a purchase agreement for the site, as well as a detailed redevelopment plan. They hope to start construction by next spring or summer.
"Our focus is 100 percent on the hospital project right now, where we can take over at end of the year and have a development plan that works and start working on it in the spring," he said.