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Three-story apartment building approved for Allen Street

Buffalo's Planning Board on Tuesday gave the green light to plans for a new mixed-use apartment and retail building on Allen Street that would reuse the facade of an old building.

Property owner May Wang wants to spend $1.7 million to construct a three-story building at 15 Allen St., replacing a two-story structure that will be demolished except for the front. The new building would feature a 1,500-square-foot, first-floor retail space and 10 apartments.

Located on the north side of Allen, next to a patch of green space along Main Street, the structure would occupy virtually the entire property, but architect Adam Sokol said it complies with the city's new Green Code. Wang, who also owns 19 Allen St., combined the parcels into one for purposes of lighting and creating a path for the new apartment building. The project, which is aimed at Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus workers just a short walk away, also will include a new outdoor space for tenants.

"It goes without saying that this is a great transit-oriented development project," architect Adam Sokol said.

Wang had wanted to rehab the existing historic building, but the proposal didn't qualify for the historic tax credits needed to finance the work. "There were a lot of challenges with the National Park Service and the deterioration of the building," Sokol said.

Ultimately, after six appearances before the Buffalo Preservation Board, Wang and Sokol were allowed to demolish the older building as long as they incorporated the facade into the new structure, reusing the original materials as much as possible.

"What's there today is highly deteriorated," Sokol said. "It's not in the best of condition."

The brick and cast-stone trim work will be salvaged and replicated where needed or appropriate, while the woodwork would be restored. The east side will be made of architectural concrete masonry, while the rest of the new construction will use light gray fiber cement panels.

"I've been down there 12 years. This building has been in disarray all that time," said Roslyn Righetti, who owns a nearby building on Main Street. "I'm very happy we're doing something with it, because I'm getting tired of looking at it," she said.

But she expressed concern about the impact of construction on her building. "Once you demo this building, where will all the rats, rodents and the rest of the critters go?" said asked.

Sokol said he was "a bit at a loss about the rats."

"I'm an architect. We design things to code," he said.

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