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Apartments, retail planned for dilapidated church near Medical Campus

Ellicott Development Co. wants to push ahead on an adaptive restoration of the former Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Buffalo as it prepares to start constructing a six-story building directly to the south on Main Street.

Ellicott Development, owned by Carl and William Paladino, has proposed converting the 1898-era church into a mix of retail, restaurant, office and residential space, reviving the building at 1115 Main St. into an active property once again.

Plans call for constructing two additional floors within the open cathedral nave area, according to documents filed with the city. The ground floor will consist of retail space. The third floor will feature four market-rate apartments, while the second will have 5,700 square feet of office space.

The proposal to renovate the deteriorating church is part of the company's larger plan for a group of properties in the area near St. Paul and Main streets that the developer has acquired in recent years. Ellicott Development expects to begin construction on the new six-story building in about three weeks.

"You're going to start seeing some major activity out there," William Paladino said.

According to the city filings, the developer plans to retain the existing Medina sandstone facade of the former church, as well as its stone base, canopy, dormer, wood stone door and wood, stone and copper trim, but will repair or replace materials as needed. The church steeples will also be kept, along with the decorative cross features on top.

The $4 million project is up for review by the Buffalo Planning Board on Sept. 11.

Crews will install new slate roof shingles, vents and snow guards, as well as a few new aluminum storefront windows, a new skylight, a new carriage-style light fixture and new aluminum infill panels between the main door and windows above.

The 32,128-square-foot building – which sits on 0.56 acres just north of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus – will connect to the new six-story building next door through a glass-enclosed interior courtyard between the structures.

No tenants are lined up yet, because Ellicott is focused on shoring up the long-vacant building first to make it safe to enter, William Paladino said. Ellicott had been criticized by some for allowing the church building to deteriorate since it acquired it seven years ago. But Paladino said the church had been stripped by a former owner, who even took down some decorative columns that supported the structure.

So the developer has concentrated on stabilizing the building's integrity before commencing its project, he said. Workers have been doing structural masonry repair, as well as fixing parts of the roof that were in danger of caving in. Once crews finish that work and erect steel to brace the exterior walls, Ellicott can finally get architects inside for detailed planning.

"Right now, we're unable to bring anyone through the building," Paladino said.

As soon as the church is stabilized, the company is ready to start work on the planned six-story retail and office building at 1091 Main, on the site of a parking lot.

The proposed 194,000-square-foot building, designed by Smith & Associates, will include retail and office space on the first floor, with the five upper floors of medical or other office space.

Ellicott has already announced leases with Kaleida's General Physician PC practice and a UBMD pediatric dentistry practice that will relocate from across the street. That accounts for about one-third of the building, Paladino said. Conversations are continuing with other possible tenants, he added.

The 87-foot-tall building will also include a basement level for 50 vehicles, as well as a loading dock. The grade of the land drops significantly from west to east, allowing the developer to add an access ramp at the northeast corner to allow cars to get into the garage with minimal impact on the building's design.

The $45 million project, with a blend of colors and materials designed to tie into the church while still offering a more modern look, was approved by the city Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals in February. Paladino said they expect the project to be completed within 12 to 18 months, but hope to start getting tenants in by next summer.

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