Coming soon to a grain silo near you: apartments?
Silo City owner Rick Smith and his partners are bringing their redevelopment proposal for the vast complex to city planners Monday, seeking approval to put 158 apartments and nearly 40,000 square feet of commercial space in a former malt house.
That would be the first phase in what could be a larger transformation of the peninsula of old grain silos and warehouses into a residential and artistic community. The proposal aims to maintain the historic integrity of the 13.44-acre site.
The group of six properties along Childs Street comprise the former American, Perot and Marine A grain elevator complexes, dating back to 1906, 1907 and 1925.
Smith, who owns nearby Rigidized Metals Corp., is working with Miami-based Generation Development Group LLC – led by managing principals Marvin Wilmoth and Anthony Ceroy – to convert the cluster of buildings into apartments, retail space and artists' studios.
Initial plans call for using federal and state historic preservation standards to stabilize and restore the vacant American Malting Company structure at 139 Buffalo River Road, while remediating the 8.69-acre property under the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program, according to documents submitted to the Buffalo Planning Board.
As part of the project, documents show, crews would repair the brick facade, reopen original window spaces and replace the windows on the outside of the 220,917-square-foot building. Additional work would include a new 191-space parking lot across the street, which would be integrated into "the existing industrial ruin landscape," according to a letter from architect Paul R. Lang that is part of the application. No new buildings are planned.
The mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments would occupy the upper floors of the eight-story structure. The building's existing condition, including "vertical voids inherent from historic mill processes and machinery," would be used to create "internal light wells," so that there's enough natural light and ventilation to allow the developers to use the entire floorplates for residential space, Lang wrote.
The design will also leave tanks and equipment in place, where feasible, or incorporate "interpretive details" as a reminder of the building's heritage, said Lang, of Carmina Wood Morris PC, which is working with New York City's Studio V Architecture Pllc. That includes a few "dummy doors," stairs, cantilevers, I-beams and balconies on the exterior.
The developers also intend to provide better waterfront access for the public, Lang wrote, with new landscaping, educational signage and walking paths along former rail lines, as well as a balcony and community gathering area at the north end, next to the river.
The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the project on Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. at City Hall. Smith and Generation already obtained an adaptive-reuse permit from the Common Council, as the properties are either listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
If approved next month, the $70 million project – funded with historic and brownfield tax credits, as well as New York State Housing and Community Renewal housing tax credits – would begin in June and last through April 2022.