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Mixed-use building coming to Main Street near medical campus

The Buffalo Planning Board Monday approved a $25 million project by surgeon-turned-developer Dr. Fadi Dagher to construct a five-story mixed-use building on a former motel site just north of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The proposal by Dagher's Cedarland Development, in conjunction with Utah-based student-housing developer Blackfish Investments, would feature 215 apartments and three first-floor commercial spaces in a new building at 1159 Main, on the southeast corner at Dodge Street.

The units would include 85 one-bedroom, 15 two-bedroom and 115 studio units, ranging in size from 400 to 1,000 square feet and renting for market rates. The 1,000-square-foot commercial spaces open onto Main, but have not yet been leased.

The ground floor includes residential amenities and office and co-working space, while the fifth floor will feature an interior lounge and virtual reality room with an adjacent rooftop deck.

The 128,890-square-foot building will occupy a 1.551-acre site vacant since the former Buffalo Tourist Lodge was demolished in July 2014. It was previously a gas station, "but has been dormant for several years now," said attorney Steven J. Ricca of Bond Schoeneck & King, who represents Dagher.

The project, which includes 89 parking spaces and 100 bicycle spots, is designed as a transit-oriented development, and is aimed at University at Buffalo medical students, downtown workers and young professionals. Parking is accessible in the rear, through a driveway under one end of the building.

"It's really a perfect fit," Ricca said.

Ricca noted there's a Metro Rail station on the same block and several bus routes nearby. That's why there's far less parking spaces than apartments, in response to a shift in attitude toward cars and parking, although he said Dagher has talked with nearby property owners about potentially sharing parking if needed.

"We don’t want to overpark our city and increase the impervious area. We want to have the market drive the supply," Ricca said. "But our intent is to approach this incrementally."

Surgeon-turned-developer plans $25 million project near Medical Campus

The wood-frame building would feature a facade of metal panels, some brick and some wood features, with curved roof and awning lines to replicate the curve of Best Street and architectural lighting designed to mimic the street pattern along Main while indicating where the Metro Rail train is moving along its route – hence, the tentative project name, The Grid.

"I like the project. It’s what we want," said Planning Board member Horace Gioia.

The developer is consolidating two parcels on Dodge into the Main Street property. The building's height fits within Green Code requirements, and two variances were approved last week for the parking lot, clearing the way for the project, slated to begin by February and finish by June 2020.

"We want to shoot for that summer and we'll go full speed," said Cedarland Vice President Kevin Dagher, Fadi Dagher's son. He added the cost will be borne by private investments, mostly from the two developers, with no tax breaks or other incentives.

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