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30 townhomes planned near old Central Park Plaza site

Elim Christian Fellowship Church next week will air its plans to build 30 townhomes next to the old Central Park Plaza site, as the church and its nonprofit housing affiliate seek to build on a larger redevelopment planned for the neighborhood.

Elim Community Development Corp. wants to construct an affordable-housing complex of five two-story buildings on 2.19 acres at 129 Holden Ave.

According to the proposal submitted to the Buffalo Planning Board, each of the buildings would contain six townhomes, with a single-story community center attached to one. Plans by Silvestri Architects feature facades of brick, fiber-cement lap siding, architectural asphalt shingles and Energy-Star vinyl windows.

The apartments, which will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, would be available for rent to tenants earning 60 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that is $40,920.

The Elim Townhomes project would also parking, community green space and bicycle storage. A playground had also been proposed when the project was presented to the neighborhood.

The $8 million project, which is the first by the church's affiliate, will be reviewed by the Planning Board on Monday. To finance the project, Elim is working with Belmont Housing Resources to apply for a 9 percent tax credit grant from state Division of Housing and Community Renewal and also will seek HOME funds.

If approved, construction would be performed by David Pawlik's CSS Construction and would take about 12 months.

The property in the Fillmore-Leroy neighborhood was part of a shopping plaza that had fallen into disrepair and neglect before it was purchased in 2012 by Louis Ciminelli for $800,000 and demolished by his firm, LPCiminelli. It was then cleared and cleaned up under the state-supervised Brownfield Cleanup Program; Elim bought the strip of vacant land from LPCiminelli for $289,000.

LPCiminelli and partner Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. are planning a $100 million redevelopment on 27 acres in the neighborhood into a new residential community dubbed Highland Park. It will include more than 600 apartments, townhomes and single-family homes that will be constructed over the next five years, with a combination of mixed-income, affordable and market-rate units.
Louis Ciminelli ran LPCiminelli until he resigned in February to battle criminal corruption charges. The firm is now run by his son, Frank L. Ciminelli Jr.

The Highland Park project, designed as a transit-oriented development because of its proximity to Main Street and the Amherst Street Metro Rail stop, is aimed at providing "workforce housing" for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and other downtown employers. There will also be some neighborhood retail services, such as a grocery store, restaurant and coffee shop.

Work has begun on the first phase of the Ciminelli project, estimated to cost $24 million and occupy 3.9 acres. It will feature four three-story apartment buildings with 13 units each, for a total of 52 market-rate apartments expected to rent for between $900 and $1,500 a month.

The project also would include 32 single-family attached townhomes, with two- or three-bedroom designs, ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. The company plans to price the townhomes, which will have garage parking, between $200,000 and $230,000.

Preleasing will start in spring 2018, with the first occupants moving in during the summer.

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