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The Sinclair tips its hat to the past, present and future of Buffalo

We’ve often said one of the best features of the “new” Buffalo is the renovation of its historic buildings.

The Sinclair, located at 465 Washington St., is a prime example of an adaptive re-use project, this one by Ciminelli, which began rehabbing the structure in July 2015. The building achieved state and national landmark status in February 2016.

The six-story, 78,176 sq. ft. building includes 45 residential units located on floors 2-6, 10,000 sq. ft. of office space and 2,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Originally constructed in 1909 for the Sinclair Rooney & Co., the building was used as a showroom, offices and workspace for the company’s wholesale millinery (hat) business. (At that time, Washington Street was the home to several wholesale milliners.)

The Sinclair is significant as an example of commercial style architecture. It exemplifies the evolution of tall building design at the start of the 20th century.

Architectural firm Esenwein & Johnson designed the building, blending traditional features, like a tripartite façade, with the more modern steel and concrete construction. (Esenwein & Johnson was a prominent firm in Western New York between 1897 and 1942, and designed a number of steel frame buildings in the Buffalo area.)

Sinclair Rooney & Co., vacated the building in 1926. It was replaced by Remington-Rand, Inc. in 1928. The University at Buffalo bought the building in 1971 and occupied it for the longest period of time, until 2013.

Ciminelli encountered several obstacles during the rehab, noting, “While the building was an excellent candidate for re-development, the surrounding neighborhood and nuances of early 1900s era construction posed challenges.” These included the existing vaults under the sidewalks that were once used as basement extensions to house mechanical equipment and the historic stairs, which posed layout issues.

Despite the challenges, the end result is that another historically important building has found new life in Buffalo.

Recently, the mural “Wildflowers” was added to The Sinclair’s exterior. Completed in 2018 by artist Louise Jones, it was commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Institute.

Residents enter The Sinclair along Washington Street via secure fobs that also are used for the elevators.

In addition to the beautiful architectural details of the lobby there is a stylish seating area, where residents can welcome their visitors.

The lobby of The Sinclair welcomes guests to the residences.

The Sinclair contains five studio units, 30 single-bedroom/single bath units and 10 two-bedroom/two bath units. Rents start at $1,050.

The entrance of the two-bedroom included a surprise — a deep, spacious hall with chic white and gray tile done in a classic basket weave pattern. The entrance (more like a foyer) was large enough to accommodate an antique sideboard, hall tree or coat rack.

From here, a hall connects to a main kitchen/living room with its open floorplan. Flooring throughout is hardwood.

Large daylight windows look out over the city, providing plenty of natural light. The impressive size of the unit creates a more house than apartment feel. A gas fireplace adds to the charm.

This two bedroom unit at The Sinclair features hardwood flooring and a gas fireplace in the main living space.

The kitchen (main picture)  includes stainless steel appliances, plenty of cabinet space, a big pantry and quartz countertops. The area is large enough to accommodate a modest dining room table as well as couches, etc. The kitchen island also has an overhang counter that could be used for seating.

Off the kitchen is the first of two good-sized bedrooms, along with a full bath in a tub/shower arrangement.

The master bedroom has a full bath with a walk-in shower as well as a walk-in closet. For convenience there is an in-unit washer and dryer.

A single-bedroom unit felt just as spacious, and featured a single full bath with a walk-in shower.

In the basement of the building is a tenant activity room with a commercial kitchen, bike storage and laundry facilities for tenants who don’t have in-unit appliances.

For those who desire a downtown address, The Sinclair offers plenty of access to dining and shopping, either within walking distance or use of the Metro Rail, close to the Lafayette station.

Within a few blocks are the public library and restaurants like Deep South Taco, Casa Di Pizza, Tappo and Big Ditch Brewing. The location provides easy access to Canalside, the waterfront, the KeyBank Center, etc., via the Metro Rail.

While there is no on site parking, the Mohawk parking ramp and AllPro parking lots are nearby, as well as street parking.

For more information about The Sinclair’s residential, office or retail space, or to request a showing, call (716) 418-8142 or visit


The Sinclair on Washington Street in downtown Buffalo features public art commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

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