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Just-opened Monarch 716 student housing near Buff State is for sale

Less than a month after opening its doors to students from SUNY Buffalo State and other colleges, the owner of a sprawling student-housing community on Buffalo's West Side has put it up for sale.

DHD Ventures, co-owned by Thomas Masaschi of Rochester, is seeking a buyer for the Monarch 716 complex at 100 Forest Ave., located near the intersection of the Niagara Thruway and the Scajaquada Expressway.

The company has listed the 235,948-square-foot property for an all-cash sale through the student-housing division and Buffalo office of international real estate brokerage CBRE.

There was no indication of why DHD would try to sell the property so soon after building and opening it. Neither Masaschi nor other DHD officials responded to requests for comment, nor did officials of the complex's management firm, King Residential Group of Charlotte, N.C. CBRE brokers declined to comment.

The 10-building complex was constructed over the past year on the cleaned site of a former pharmaceutical manufacturing facility that was closed and later demolished. While aimed at students from SUNY Buffalo State, it is privately run and operates independently from the college.

SUNY Buffalo State officials would not comment on the sale, but they acknowledged some tenants have already sought to move amid concerns over several incidents on the property in which police were called.

“A few students have requested our assistance in getting out of their leases with Monarch 716," said Daniel Velez, interim vice president for student affairs at the college. "Since Buffalo State does not provide any legal advice or aid to any of its students, staff members from Student Affairs will be referring those students to the University at Buffalo School of Law’s clinic for assistance."

Tenant wants out of lease after she says rent quadrupled in price

Buffalo Police reported at least six incidents at the complex's address in late August and early September, including one in which police said a 40-year-old man slashed someone in the hand with a knife. Other incidents reported to police included a car window that was shot out and a theft from a car.

The developer was also scolded by the Buffalo Planning Board this month for initially seeking a two-story clubhouse and then completing it with just one story before coming back for approval of the change.

The project features nine residential buildings and a one-story clubhouse, with 176 suites and 592 beds. The units – with two, three or four bedrooms – are fully furnished with stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops, in-unit laundry, full-sized beds, a shared kitchen and living area, private bedrooms with locks, and high-speed Internet service.

Besides the leasing and management offices, the clubhouse includes a 24-hour gym, a two-lane bowling alley, a computer lab, a stand-up tanning bed, a breakfast nook and seating areas. The outside amenities include a swimming pool, basketball courts and fire pits, plus significant parking among the buildings.

Monthly rents are $899 per person for the four-bedroom units and $965 per month for the two-bedroom apartments, which range in size from 1,097 to 1,511 square feet in total. According to the CBRE listing, the average unit is 1,341 square feet, with an average rent per square foot of $2.24.
DHD says Monarch 716 is just over 91 percent occupied. But it did so in part by offering the first two months rent-free to attract tenants.

The project, which the developers said cost more than $25 million, is aimed primarily at Buffalo State. King Residential officials have previously said that students from other schools are also welcome and have signed leases. The complex is also not limited to students.

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