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Greenleaf buys former Hyatt art supply properties

Greenleaf & Co., which converted a pair of long-vacant historic buildings on Main Street into the new Bosche Lofts, has added to its holdings in the Allentown neighborhood by acquiring the former Hyatts – All Things Creative properties for $975,000.

Greenleaf, owned by James Swiezy, last week bought three parcels from the Charles W. Hyatt Family Trust, which owns the arts and crafts business that moved to Elmwood Avenue.

The three contiguous properties – which total 0.48 acres of prime downtown land next to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus – are located at 906-910 Main St. and 71 and 75 North Pearl St.

They include the 21,396-square-foot Main Street store, with both two-story and three-story sections, as well as a 1,620-square-foot attached warehouse at 71 North Pearl and a two-story frame house with three apartments totaling 3,668 square foot at 75 North Pearl.

There's also a parking lot with 30 spaces accessible from Pearl, which Swiezy is particularly happy about, because Bosch doesn't have its own parking. So Greenleaf previously had to rent parking spaces from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus for Bosch tenants.

But those parking spaces were located on the other side of Main Street and down the block, making them inconvenient. And by demolishing a rear loading dock that Hyatts had installed many years ago, he hopes to gain another 10 to 15 spots.

"Obviously, this is a great buy for us," he said. "It's a huge win."

The real estate package was marketed by Pyramid Brokerage Co.

Greenleaf spent several years working with the city to consolidate and transform the two buildings at 916-918 Main, near Allen Street, into a single complex. Now called Bosche Lofts, the project features 23 high-end loft apartments and one retail space, housing Homegrown Kitchen Salad Bar and Health Cafe. And all the units are leased.

Swiezy said he plans to combine the new properties with the Bosche, which is directly adjacent on the north side, for more efficient use of the overall space. That will entail carving openings into the masonry walls between the buildings to connect the corridors in five or six places, so that tenants can pass between and use the elevators.

"You preserve the natural appeal of the brick and masonry work, but you create access between the two," he said.

Additionally, he wants to carve up the Hyatts' first-floor retail space into four storefronts of about 1,200 square feet each, which would be more manageable for tenants. There are already four entry doors, so it's set up for that, he noted.

As for the rest of the building, he is planning a combination of 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with the same level of finishes and features as the Bosche. That will include three to four apartments on the first floor, behind the retail stores, with the rest of the units spread among the upper floors. All units will be 900 to 1,100 square feet.

Finally, he'll renovate and lease out the three apartments in the other house – including a two-level apartment that occupies the second and third floors, and two one-bedroom units on the ground floor. "They're spectacular," he said.

In all, the project will give him another 21 apartments, with rents of $1,400 to $2,300 per month, likely aimed at medical school interns, residents and other employees of the Medical Campus.

"We're creating a very nice destination property. I'm excited to just be part of it, and to get this project brought to fruition," he said. "There's a high demand for quality apartments in that area, so we expect we'll be full before we finish."

He's hired architect Bill Hovey of LaBella Associates to design the project, which he expects will cost $4 million to $5 million when completed, including historic tax credits. He expects to start seeking city approvals in a few months. "By the end of the year, we should have a solid plan in place, and it's just a question of execution," Swiezy said.

Greenleaf, which has been engaged in real estate management development in Buffalo since 1986, currently has more than 100 properties with over 800 apartments in its portfolio, mostly in renovated buildings. Most recently, it constructed the Campus Walk student-housing project near SUNY Buffalo State.

Hyatts is a specialty retailer that is well known for its wide array of paint, specialty pens and pencils, canvas and boards, and other tools and supplies for both casual and serious artists.

Owned by Gregory and Peter Hyatt, it relocated early this year to a new 40,000-square-foot headquarters at 1941 Elmwood, next to the LA Fitness center at the corner of Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo.

In another recent deal:

  • National Tractor Trailer School Inc. paid $565,000 to buy 175 Katherine St. in the Old First Ward from William Mocarski, the school's vice president, through his 175 Katherine Street Inc. The property already houses one of the school locations. Mocarski founded the school in 1971 along with Harry Kowalchyk Jr., who died in 2017.

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