A historic three-story Brooklyn-style brownstone building that is part of the Midway series of rowhouses on Delaware Avenue is being eyed for a renovation that will create a new mixed-use project at the southern end of the prominent block.
Scott A. Croce, brother of hospitality developer Mark Croce, wants to spend $250,000 through Leo Strong LLC to restore the 5,396-square-foot building at 469-471 Delaware into new commercial space on the first two floors and two apartments on the third floor.
Plans by Tommaso Briatico Architects call for extensive renovations to the interior, while restoring the facade of the building on Delaware, most of which is "in very good condition," according to documents filed with the city Preservation Board. That includes having a local artist maintain and repair the lion mural that artist Frank Cravotta painted on the outside in 1996, which "has become an iconic element to this neighborhood," the documents said.
Additionally, workers will repoint the masonry, rebuild the deteriorated wood fascia, repoint and patch the terra cotta elements, and replace an infill metal panel and aluminum window with a new set of windows that "would be less obtrusive." Plans also call for upgrading the insulation and installing energy-efficient equipment.
Croce also intends to turn the property along the corner – where a former building burned down – into a 13-car parking lot for tenants. He will install a set of brick piers and a wrought-iron fence to separate the parking area, while putting in a set of six or seven trees and greenspace along the southern end of the property. Crews also will add a small brick addition on the east side of the building for a new set of exit stairs, elevator and a new entrance from the parking lot.
"We appreciate this building's historic quality," Briatico wrote in a letter to Planning Department Director Nadine Marrero.
The project will be reviewed by the Buffalo Preservation Board on Thursday. It must also go through the Buffalo Planning Board.
Located at the corner of Delaware and Virginia, the long-vacant building is part of a strip of grand townhomes that were built in the late 1800s to appeal to wealthy buyers who didn't want a larger property. Constructed on the former Cornell Lead Works site, it was called the Midway because of its location – midway between Niagara Square and Forest Lawn. On the first floor, a cozy dining area used to house the legendary Manny's Supper Club – which purportedly served major stars when they came to Buffalo – while the upper floors were a residence.
Croce, a chiropractor, acquired the 0.15-acre property a year ago for $660,000.
Across the street, he purchased a landmark property at 468 Delaware from Anthony Trusso, and redeveloped the site into the mixed-use Twain Tower, with 12 luxury apartments along Virginia Street and three floors of modern office space on Delaware – including his medical practice, Erie County Chiropractic. Author Mark Twain had lived on the site while in Buffalo, in an old mansion that was later destroyed in a fire in 1963 and then demolished. The project incorporated the original carriage house that remained from Twain's time.