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Ellicott's 500 Pearl project on track for September completion

Ellicott Development Co. is aiming to complete its new 12-story mixed-use tower in downtown Buffalo by next September, complete with the region's second Aloft hotel occupying three floors in the center.

Ellicott CEO William Paladino said construction on the $75 million project is "moving along very well" and "on schedule" for a Sept. 1 completion.

The six-level parking ramp with 390 spaces is already built, and crews have been busy erecting the steel frame for the rest of the project, with the last steel going in this week, said Ellicott Director of Development Thomas Fox.

Exterior framing will start by year end, followed by the glass in January, so that the building should be closed in by early spring, if the weather cooperates, he said. A decorative perforated metal skin will be installed on the parking ramp next year.

Designed by Kideney Architects, the 300,000-square-foot project dubbed 500 Pearl is being constructed on the former site of a vacant 100-space surface parking lot, next to the 70,000-square-foot Buffalo Christian Center.

Among the highlights of the project will be the new 110-room hotel, which Paladino confirmed will carry the Aloft brand. That's a "stylish boutique" collection of technology-oriented, modern-looking hotels that are part of the Starwood Hotels portfolio, now owned by Marriott International.

It's only the second Aloft in the Buffalo Niagara region, after an eight-story, 149-room hotel that Mississauga, Ont.-based Manga LLC built and operates at 4219 Genesee St., near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. There are 243 Aloft hotels in 28 countries worldwide, including 163 in the United States.

The new hotel is expected to open "around the same time" as the rest of the project, "if not a bit earlier," said Ellicott Director of Development Thomas Fox.

Besides the parking and hotel, the complex will also include 28 apartments on two floors, one floor of 28,000 square feet of office space, and 12,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

The Christian Center building, which is part of the project, will house the main lobby, lounge, cafe, banquet and meeting spaces, and a basement pool and spa, as well as back-of-the-house functions for the hotel. Road Less Traveled Productions will remain in the Forbes Theatre.

Paladino said the developer is talking to "a lot of people" and "very close to getting some leases signed" for office space and a restaurant, but he did not identify specific potential tenants.

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