Two sets of developers are preparing to move forward with separate Elmwood Village projects for a 26-unit apartment building and 20 for-sale townhomes – but first, they are asking the city's Preservation Board to let them demolish four residential houses and a mixed-use building in the way.
Developers Nick Sinatra and William Paladino have applied to take down a triple at 180 West Utica St. and a single-family house at 184 West Utica, as part of their plan to put up the Parkhurst Green condo project on a parking lot at 188 West Utica.
That's part of the Elmwood Crossing initiative by Sinatra & Co. Real Estate and Ellicott Development Co., to redevelop the eight-acre former Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo campus.
Working with Essex Homes of Western New York as general contractor, the developers are proposing to construct a block of eight units located along the south side of the street, between Elmwood and Delaware avenues. Two additional groups of six would be situated perpendicular to the street, in the rear of the consolidated 1.29-acre site, to create a horseshoe shape around a central community green.
The 2,500-square-foot townhouses would all have two or three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms and would each have its own pedestrian walk-up front entrance, in a traditional rowhouse style.
The two 2.5-story homes – one traditional house built in 1900, and one Flemish Revival-style house built in 1890 – are vacant and declining, with "significant disrepair and damage as a result of mold, water infiltration and vandalism," said Amy Nagy, director of development for Sinatra.
She cited the opinion of historic consultant Kerry Traynor of KTA Preservation Specialists, who, Nagy said, "acknowledged the significant deterioration" and "emphasized the lack of rare or remarkable historic features that would otherwise justify preservation."
The houses have attracted attention from the neighborhood – and particularly from preservationists – who are staunchly opposed to losing them. Opponents cite them as contributing structures to the Elmwood Village East Historic District, even if they are not historic themselves, and have demanded that the developers find another way to achieve their project goals without taking down the houses.
According to a National Register of Historic Places description of the district, the house at 180 West Utica has a stone foundation, asbestos siding, an asphalt roof and offset entry.
The house at 184 West Utica is a two-story hipped roof house in Dutch Colonial Revival style, with a stone foundation, brick siding with stone quoins, asphalt roof and offset glazed door.
In addition, Whitesand Family LP is seeking approval to take down a triple-unit house at 1020 Elmwood Ave., a multi-unit house at 1024 Elmwood and a structure at 1028 Elmwood with apartments and a comic-book store, Gutter Pop Comics.
The three 2.5-story detached dwellings, which date to 1900 or 1910, contain 11 apartments, with the retail storefront in a one-story masonry block in front of one of the houses.
In their place on 0.34 acres, the development team owned by Don White and Tom Sand plans to erect a four-story building with 26 market-rate apartments on the upper three floors and three ground-floor retail spaces. The 38,260-square-foot project would include seven one-bedroom units and 19 apartments with two bedrooms, according to the application.
The $6 million project received two variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the height and combination of lots and was approved by the city's Planning Board last year, leaving demolition as the only major obstacle prior to construction beginning in the summer.
According to a letter from architect Michael Anderson of Abstract Architecture, the three Queen Anne-style houses are "typical of rentals in the area that are primarily utilized as student housing."
The Preservation Board will consider the request Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. at City Hall.
Story topics: buffalo/ demolition/ Ellicott Development Cp./ Elmwood Crossing/ elmwood village/ Essex Homes of WNY/ jonathan d. epstein/ Nick Sinatra/ Parkhurst Green/ Preservation Board/ Sinatra & Company Real Estate/ townhomes/ West Utica/ Whitesand Family LP/ William Paladino