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Pierce-Arrow luxury loft project gets $1.2 million in tax breaks

The $34.5 million project to turn the former Pierce-Arrow headquarters and warehouse on Elmwood Avenue into 107 loft apartments has been granted $1.2 million in tax breaks by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The developers – Dr. Gregory F. Daniel's Nidus Development and investor Joseph Hecht – plan to turn the largely vacant, 190,000-square-foot complex into apartments that rent for $950 to $1,600 a month.

"This is a fantastic example of a very progressive adaptive reuse project," said Marc Romanowski, an attorney representing the developers.

"It's stabilizing an icon," Romanowski said. "The developers have passion for this building."

The apartments will feature geothermal heating that will hold down utility costs. About 30 percent of the apartments will have rents that are considered to be affordable for people earning 20 percent less than the region's median income.

The Pierce-Arrow headquarters building, built more than a century ago, is a monument to Buffalo's industrial past, when it was home to one of the nation's earliest car manufacturers. But the site has fallen on hard times in recent decades and also has asbestos within it that will cost $3 million to remove.

The sprawling space has been targeted in two other redevelopment efforts in recent years for a structure that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, but neither have panned out. The site includes three buildings at 1685, 1695 and 1721 Elmwood Ave.

Conversion of Pierce-Arrow building into luxury lofts, restaurant to begin

"This is really a transformational project for that neighborhood," said Dottie Gallagher, the president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and an IDA board member.

"It's really been an eyesore," she said. "It's going to be one of those projects where you look back and say, 'Thank God it got renovated.' "

The one-bedroom apartments are expected to be about 600 to 800 square feet in size and rent for $950 to $1,100 per month. Two- and three-bedroom units will cover 850 to 1,450 square feet and rent for $1,100 to $1,600 a month, the developers said.

About 38 percent of the project's total cost is expected to be covered by public subsidies. The project also is receiving $3 million in state brownfield tax credits, $8 million in state and federal historic tax credits and a $312,000 state energy grant.

In addition to the IDA tax breaks, the project is expected to seek property tax breaks from a City of Buffalo program that offers greater savings over a longer period of time than is available through the development agency.

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