Chiropractor and developer Scott Croce – brother of the restaurateur and hospitality operator Mark Croce – has acquired a Delaware Avenue brownstone just north of downtown Buffalo from the law firm that has long called it home.
Croce's Leostrong LLC paid $575,000 in April to buy the building at 475 Delaware from Pearl Block, whose managing officer is Alan R. Feuerstein, one of the principals of Feuerstein & Smith.
Known as the John Strootman Mansion and built in 1895, the 9,095-square-foot Renaissance Revival-style home is part of "The Midway" series of brownstones on Delaware.
According to Zillow, the four-story house includes oak hardwood floors, oak paneled walls, two ornate fireplaces, two oak Corinthian columns, a spindled staircase that rises four flights to a skylight, two large master-bedroom-style suites with fireplaces on the second and third floors, and five other rooms. Most of the fourth floor is occupied by a ballroom. There's also a rear deck and a two-car garage.
"It's a cool building. It's really beautiful," Croce said.
Croce plans to remake the top two floors of the Strootman Mansion into a high-end luxury apartment, potentially for himself in the future, while maintaining the lower two floors as office space.
Feuerstein & Smith currently occupies the first two floors, after the law firm downsized and retrenched following the sudden death of its co-founder, David Smith. Cheryl Barrett, the firm's accounting manager, is Smith's sister.
Barrett said the law firm is currently staying in that space for the short-term, but Croce said they are in preliminary discussions over a possible long-term lease-back deal. Just in case, a couple of other law firms have also reached out to him, he added.
"We have a great relationship, myself and the law firm," Croce said. "Everything's been seamless. There's other people who have shown interest, but right now I would prefer to have them stay in the space if it works."
Feuerstein & Smith was formed in the early 1990s after Feuerstein and David B. Smith collaborated on a pair of trials in 1993 and 1994. The boutique law firm now focuses on real estate, personal injury, family law, criminal defense, estate planning, litigation, bankruptcy and business law, with offices and clients not only in Buffalo but also in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This is the sixth real estate venture for Croce, president and owner of Erie County Chiropractic, whose office is just down the street at 468 Delaware. He purchased that building – home of the former Cloister Restaurant and one-time home of Mark Twain in Buffalo – from developer Anthony Trusso in 2009 for $460,000, and moved his office there while developing it into a mixed-use building dubbed Twain Tower over the next four years.
Then he bought 469-471 Delaware in 2016 for $660,000, and is now preparing to start redeveloping that four-story former Manny's Supper Club Building into commercial space and one top-floor apartment. Croce also owns 2 Virginia Place and 369 Delaware, next to Trinity Church, as well as a parking lot at the corner of Delaware and Virginia.