Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.'s effort to make some money off an underused property on Elmwood Avenue was dealt a blow this week when the city's Zoning Board of Appeals rejected its request for a variance to allow a commercial parking lot on the site.
Ciminelli had planned to convert the private lot of the former J.P. Bullfeathers restaurant at 1010 Elmwood into an AllPro Parking facility, so it could generate some income from the property that was otherwise costing it money. Ciminelli wanted to use a pay-by-cellphone system to sell spaces to the public for "transient and visitor parking," according to its application.
But the ZBA found that the developer had "failed to demonstrate financial hardship" to justify the change.
Ciminelli officials declined to comment Friday.
Ciminelli had originally acquired the restaurant property in September 2016, along with a cluster of nearly a dozen parcels on Elmwood, Potomac and Ashland avenues near Bidwell Parkway. Two months later, the developer announced plans for a $40 million residential project, consisting of two five-story buildings on Elmwood at the corners of Bidwell and Potomac, with 97 condominiums and apartments, eight retail storefronts and a three-level parking ramp. Eleven structures would be demolished to make way.
But the project immediately faced significant backlash from neighbors and other residents, who objected to the project as far too big and out of scale for the community. Critics also said it violated the city's new Green Code, which restricted the height of new buildings in the Elmwood Village to three stories.
Ciminelli revised the project to try to assuage the concerns, reducing the Reverie building to four stories and eventually suspending the Arbor plan. Officials also agreed to preserve two properties with only renovations, and later put several back up for sale because they weren't needed.
The resistance grew, though, and the project has been in limbo for more than a year.
Separately, the Zoning Board approved a variance for a new Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop at 2200 South Park Ave. in South Buffalo.