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Planning Board OKs warehouse expansion, B&B, restaurant but pauses over Cooperage changes

The city Planning Board Monday night approved a 20,000-square-foot warehouse addition on the East Side to house two companies relocating from Niagara Street, as a Buffalo businessman seeks to bring three of his companies under one roof.

William Breeser plans to construct a 100-foot-by-200-foot addition to the current facility at 680 New Babcock St., just south of William Street between Fillmore and Bailey avenues.

The property already houses Breeser's Better Wire Products, a wire fabrication and metal stamping company that was formerly on Niagara. But Breeser also owns a powder-coating company and Smith McDonald Corp., which makes desktop accessories, and he wants to move both of them to the New Babcock site.

The addition, which will be attached to the existing building via a breezeway, will mirror the current facility in height, colors and general appearance. Breeser already obtained four variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, including for a wider driveway and curb-cut than allowed by the Green Code.

The board also tabled a request by Ellicott Development Co. for a modification of its previously approved site plan for the Cooperage project, located at 55-59 Chicago St., just east of Ohio Street near the Buffalo River. The project was approved a year ago, and construction is nearly complete on most of it, but the developer now wants to adjust the appearance of a portion of the three-story building on the first floor, based in part on tenant requests.

Ellicott wants to swap out regular red brick for a cement-based pre-cast brick panel, with a similar look. It also plans to change the first-floor storefront windows to include more glass. Those spaces are for a distillery and a salon. The second floor, which will be office space, and the third floor, which will include apartments, are unchanged on the exterior.

Plan for historic Cooperage calls for brewery, distillery, adventure gym

Tom Fox, Ellicott's director of development, downplayed the changes. "The appearance of the building to a passerby is not going to be much different," he said.

But at least one board member was concerned that they were still significant enough to warrant a new public hearing, prompting the two-week delay.

The project is about 70 to 80 percent complete, including the new operation for Resurgence Brewery in the former Pattern Building and a new 45-foot-tall, one-story building for Central Rock Gym, which is expected to open in early spring. New brewing equipment is now being loaded into the building, and workers are ready to build out the interior rock-climbing walls for the gym.

Resurgence Brewing, rock climbing coming to Old First Ward

The board also recommended approval by the Common Council of special-use permits for:

  • Continued operation of a bed-and-breakfast at 288 Linwood, where Rob Seth and his wife purchased an existing business.
  • A new restaurant by Anthony Prendergast with an outdoor patio in the rear and live music at 378 Seneca St., next to the closed DiTondo's Tavern.

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