William Paladino has been eying the corner of Delaware and West Delavan avenues for several years, after purchasing a couple of properties at the intersection south of Gates Circle.
Now the developer is poised to do something about it.
Ellicott Development Co. is fine-tuning plans for a new four-story apartment and retail building that would incorporate the former home of the Locker Room bar, as well as a vacant gas station next door. It would feature 25 market-rate apartments and 7,800 square feet of retail space, reusing an existing two-story building while adding a larger structure alongside.
Details are still being fleshed out, but the developer has been meeting with neighborhood groups for several months, and officials hope to submit a proposal to the city in the coming months after further community discussion. If approved, the developer hopes to start construction on what could be a $10 million project next spring, with completion by mid-2021.
"We continue to see a steady demand for the type of space as proposed," said Tom Fox, Ellicott's director of development. "The project site is an ideal fit for this form of infill development and increased density."
The tentative proposal would fix up the commercial frame structure at 1389 Delaware, which has been home to multiple bars and taverns since 1931. The building, with a pale green cast-iron facade, was the third location for the Delaware House tavern run by Joseph and Charles Gohn, the reputed originators of the beef on weck sandwich. It later became Meyer's Tavern and then the Locker Room, followed by the Lotus and Blush nightclubs.
To the north, at 1395 Delaware, Ellicott would erect a four-story building, after taking down the gas station and convenience store on the property. The developer also intends to demolish some small additions that were made to the rear of the Locker Room, and will combine two separate properties.
Ellicott bought the one-third-acre gas station, located at the southeast corner of the intersection, from Christopher Polino six years ago for $1.025 million.
"It’s just a great corner that had been so underutilized and a eyesore for many years," Paladino added.
The current concept envisions about 6,000 square feet of ground floor retail space in the new building, with eight apartments on each of the upper three floors. That's expected to feature mostly two-bedroom apartments, as well as some units with one or three bedrooms, but officials have not yet determined the size or rents.
The Locker Room building would have another 1,800 square feet of storefront space, with a large three-bedroom apartment upstairs on the second floor. The two buildings would connect internally, but a lobby and residents' entry corridor from Delaware would cut off the two first-floor retail spaces.
Below ground, Ellicott plans to put in a full basement level of parking, accessible from the south side, that would provide about 50 spaces – enough for the apartment needs, as well as the retail or commercial tenants. There would also be another 15 to 20 surface spaces, both behind the building and partially underneath it on the ground floor, off Delavan. The developer is also considering a rooftop patio area for residents.
No tenants have signed on for the retail space.
Meanwhile, Ellicott has also been busily acquiring other properties in the city in recent weeks. "They are all located adjacent to properties we already own and have or plan to invest further in," Fox said.
• Paid $400,000 for 177 Elm St., a three-story building with 12,480 square feet that it acquired from Ferguson Electric Construction Co. Inc. The building – which dates to 1900 – is adjacent to the former Keiser & Boasberg Tobacco Warehouse at 173 Elm St., a 13,824-square-foot four-story building that Ellicott bought in 2013. It then renovated it in 2015 into five apartments and office space.
• Bought out the Seneca Nation's shared interest in vacant properties at 186, 190 and 194 Perry St., between Ellicott's Fairmont Creamery Building and the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, for $340,967.95. Ellicott and the Senecas had teamed up in a joint venture more than two years ago to buy the properties – including a former Buffalo Sewer Authority facility and a single-story former Graybar Electric Co. warehouse – in preparation for the Senecas to do a mixed-use tower project with residential, office and entertainment space, plus a parking structure. Under an agreement with Ellicott and the city, the Nation had 12 to 18 months to propose its project, after which the developer could buy it back for its own plans.
• Acquired a 2,818-square-foot three-family house at 878 Elmwood from Garry M. Page for $425,000. Built in 1895, the house sits between Lafayette and West Delavan avenues.