Six more condominiums are now available for purchase in downtown Buffalo, after Schneider Development got state approval to begin selling the additional units it plans for its Historic Warehouse Condominiums building on Ellicott Street.
The real estate development firm said it received clearance from the state Attorney General's Office to begin marketing the for-sale apartments that it plans to construct on the second floor of the building at 210 Ellicott.
That entire floor was a former commercial office space that was occupied by Campus Labs for more than a decade before the technology firm relocated. Instead of re-leasing it as office space, Schneider decided to convert them into residential condos because demand seemed to be so strong.
“We saw firsthand the demand for owning residential real estate in the downtown core back in 2015 when we converted the building from apartments to for-sale condominiums,” said Jake Schneider, president of Schneider Development Services. “We are hoping to pre-sell these new units and satisfy some of that demand.”
Plans call for four two-bedroom apartments, with two bathrooms in each, and two one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments, said Matt Hartrich, vice president of development for Schneider. The new units will vary in size from 1,040 to 1,525 square feet, with prices ranging from $255,000 to $385,000.
Schneider worked with designer Nest Interiors, and the layout will "mirror the floor plan of all the other floors" in the seven-story building, Hartrich said.
All of the units will come with white oak hardwood floors, an electric fireplace with herringbone tile surround, granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, soaking tubs, walk-in closets, in-unit laundry, dedicated storage and on-site parking.
"They're going to be sharp," Hartrich said. "We think they'll go pretty quickly."
Work had begun in January, prior to the governor's executive orders suspending all nonessential construction activity, but is now suspended until the orders are lifted. The developer hopes to finish by mid to late summer.
"We’re going to keep moving forward as soon as we can," Hartrich said. "We got stopped right before drywall was going up."
Construction and sale of the new units will mark the completion of a process that began more than 13 years ago, when architect-turned-developer Jake Schneider bought the former Seneca Paper Co. building in 2007.
Located between Eagle and Clinton streets, the 65,000-square-foot former warehouse was one of the first concrete-frame warehouse buildings in the country, dating to 1913. After Seneca Paper, it was later used by AM&A's department store. Schneider bought it from attorney David L. Sweet for $650,000.
Schneider then spent $7.5 million to convert it into the Historic Warehouse Lofts, with 30 rental apartments. The project – involving adaptive reuse of one of the first – was financed through the use of historic tax credits.
Eight years later, after the tax credits had expired, Schneider got state approval to convert the building from rental units into condominiums, so he could free up capital for other projects. It was one of the first condo conversions in Buffalo in years, so the sale was closely watched by skeptical market observers.
But the 30 original apartments, ranging in size from 1,040 to 1,665 square feet, sold within less than 18 months.
"It was less than half the time we initially projected," Hartrich said. "They're definitely a hot commodity."
And even though the units were eight years old, the prices ranged from $215,000 to $365,000. A handful of them have since resold, with an average price appreciation of 20%, and as high as 35%, with little to no improvements to them, Hartrich said.
That gives the development firm confidence for its new units, which will be even more updated.
"We're optimistic," Hartrich said. "We're pricing them very similarly to the first go-around, but they're all brand new."