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West Side housing proposal features affordable one-bedroom units

Former judge Anthony P. LoRusso is taking a second stab at affordable housing on Buffalo's West Side – with a new proposal for a 39-unit apartment building around the corner from his first project.

LoRusso's APL Property Group seeks city approval to construct a four-story building at 129 West Ave., with one-bedroom apartments priced at what LoRusso termed an "affordable" market-rate for moderate-income residents.

Plans call for eight units on the first floor, 11 on the second and third floors and nine on the fourth.

Each unit will be about 550 square feet, with sliding glass partitions to set off bedroom areas and kitchens blended into the rest of the space. The units will use new European models of beds coming out of the wall, to save space.

They will each have a patio or balcony of about 10 feet by 5.5 feet. Four outer units on the top floor – which is set back from the building's edge – will open out onto rooftop patios, offering a "wonderful view" toward Lake Erie, LoRusso said.

The building will have a 1,000-square-foot party room, capable of fitting about 70 people, and available for rent for parties or events.

"We're very pleased with it," LoRusso said. "We think it's going to be unique."

The project, called Campus West, is located down the street from D'Youville College.

The apartments will be priced at $875 per month, including utilities. "We think we can provide uniquely priced housing, for the couple or single person who is not going to be entertaining in their own unit," LoRusso said.

The Green Code allows for only three stories in that neighborhood, so LoRusso will apply for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

But, in a twist, the building's height – 43 feet, 6 inches – comes in just below the code's maximum of 44 feet, because the ground slopes down five feet along West, allowing the fourth floor to fit.

"That is how we're able to get that additional floor," LoRusso said.

The building will contain a full basement level.

The $4 million project will be privately funded, without housing subsidies but with brownfield tax credits, LoRusso said.

He said the building is designed with the same energy-efficiency features as Allentown, his other project, including high-efficiency boilers.

"It's a wonderful little project," LoRusso said. "We are a little tight, but we're taking advantage of everything we can."

As part of the project, LoRusso wants to combine the quarter-acre site with 295 Maryland St., a 1.24-acre parcel that abuts the West Avenue property in back. That's the site of Allentown Square Apartments at Maryland Place, a three-story building with 59 apartments LoRusso recently opened.

The Buffalo Planning Board Monday agreed to take the lead on the state-mandated environmental review for the project.

LoRusso already remediated the Maryland Street property and received a certificate of completion from the state Brownfield Cleanup Program.



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