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Five-story apartment building at Hertel-Parkside wins city approval

Construction is expected to begin next spring on a new five-story mixed-use apartment building at the corner of Hertel and Parkside avenues in North Buffalo, after the city Planning Board gave its stamp of approval Monday night.

John and Ruth Ann Daly, owners of O'Dalaigh Real Estate, want to build a 34-unit apartment complex with underground parking on the site of a longtime former gas station at 1585 Hertel Ave.  The site is adjacent to an M&T Bank parking lot.

Plans by Trautman Associates – where John Daly is a managing principal – call for six storefronts on the first floor, with the apartments above on the second, third and fifth floors.

"We've gotten a lot of interest in that retail space, and providing some Class A retail space on Hertel is important," said Daly, president of O'Dalaigh.

Each upper floor will have six apartments in the front and four in back, with those in the rear benefiting from windows facing Parkside. The first floor also has four apartments.

The third floor would be 16 feet in height, enabling those loft apartments to have a mezzanine level with a second bedroom above the bedroom on the main level below. That effectively counted as another floor as far as city planners were concerned. Units will rent for about $1,000 per month for one-bedroom apartments and $1,400 per month for two-bedroom units.

The facade will feature a mix of pre-cast fiber-cement panels, metal panels, red brick and stone. "We tried to pick out a nice, clean, durable finish," Daly said.

The $5.5 million building will also feature a "green" wall along a stainless-steel lattice that would allow vines to climb up the side, as well as a "green roof" for tenant use. "It's great to have green space, to sit and read a book. Also, if they want to grow their tomatoes up there, they can do that and have a community garden. It's a nice amenity to have," John Daly told the Planning Board, noting it would also reduce stormwater runoff. "There's a lot of benefits to the green roof."

"What a great looking building," said board member Henry Burns.

The project faced opposition from some neighbors, who objected to the five-story height at 58.4 feet and what they felt was insufficient parking of only 12 spaces. The city's Green Code limits the height of buildings in that area to three stories or 44 feet tall. Elevator or stair towers that exceed the height of the roof are not counted.

The Dalys said they needed the extra apartments and accompanying height to generate more revenues, offsetting the high cost per-square-foot of the remediation under the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program, including the removal of four underground gas tanks. For the same reason, they also wanted the project to take up the entire lot, without putting in any greenspace or landscaping. The Green Code requires at least 10 percent greenspace.

So the Dalys obtained variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and redesigned the building to add another level of parking, for a total of 26 spaces across the two levels. In the process, the new design also increased the number of units from the original 32.

"We have all the parking we need," Daly said. "For a little site, we put a lot of parking on it."

Daly said they still have "some design work to do," as well as the cleanup, so work won't likely begin until the spring. He hopes to complete the project by the end of 2018 or shortly afterwards, "if the weather cooperates."

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