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Mollenberg-Betz to expand downtown warehouse

Century-old mechanical contractor Mollenberg-Betz Inc. is expanding its downtown Buffalo campus on Scott Street, with plans to expand its warehouse so it can shift some of its storage space inside.

The company received approval Monday night from the Buffalo Planning Board to add 15,000 square feet of warehouse space to its complex at 300 Scott, on the north side of its 3.4-acre property, adjacent to the elevated Niagara Thruway above Chicago Street. The addition would be the same 23-foot height and appearance as the current 43,515-square-foot, beige metal-panel building, with a white rubber roof and windows.

The project will include a recessed loading dock, overhead doors and 16 new parking spaces that will be added just south of the expansion space, along with an exterior secure storage area for trucks, equipment and larger items, said Marshall E. Morehouse of Scheid Architects, who is working with the contracting firm. Plans also include exterior lighting, 17 new trees and other landscaping, and a bioretention area for runoff and water quality because the project will take away more green space.

"This cleans up the site," said Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Cynthia Schwartz. Orchard Park-based Lehigh Construction Group is the contractor for the $1.75 million project, which is expected to last six months.

Mollenberg-Betz provides refrigeration, plumbing and HVAC services in Western New York.

The board also backed a request by developers Jason Yots and Karl Frizlen for the city to sell them a small portion of Dearborn Street that extends in a dead end behind their proposed Black Rock Freight House project.

The Common Council already passed a resolution supporting the sale last year, for $4,500, and the $10 million adaptive reuse project to convert the narrow 800-foot-long building into 35 apartments and 3,000 square feet of commercial space is now 70 percent completed, Frizlen said.

In other action, the board also urged the  Council to approve special-use permits to allow:

  • Molly Hutton, owner of Buckminster's Cat Cafe, to serve beer and wine, alongside a light-fare menu, when it opens at 577 Niagara St. The cafe – the latest establishment in Buffalo that allows cat-loving patrons to hang out with felines to encourage adoptions of rescue cats – will seat 49 people in the formerly vacant building, and will operate six days a week. Plans include a rear patio surrounded by an 8-foot-high wall.
  • JaVaughan Parker, president of Parker Auto Sales, to open a vehicle repair and sales business at 1626 Bailey Ave., near Broadway.
  • Richard Wagstaff, owner of Richie's Soul Food, to offer dancing, live music and liquor at the restaurant at 3199 Main St. Wagstaff already has a liquor license for beer and wine, but wants to add spirits, as well as jazz, reggae and calypso music. He also plans to extend the hours of the 2-year-old business until 2 a.m. on Fridays, while adding Sunday evening hours.
  • Anthony Franco to operate a temporary outdoor patio for Mr. Pizza on the sidewalk next to the restaurant at 643 Grant St. Plans call for two tables, eight chairs and two umbrellas that will be taken down every night and stored inside, with no permanent structure.

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