A Buffalo construction contractor who has spent over a decade quietly assembling more than an acre of land on the edge of downtown is hoping to transform vacant and neglected properties at West Tupper Street and Elmwood Avenue into a commercial and residential project.
Chris Wan, who owns Dyno Group, wants to bring 40 market-rate apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail space to a building he plans to erect at 147 W. Tupper St., using about 10 parcels that he has acquired in the past 10 years, including Sammy's Auto Shop. Those lots extend along Elmwood from West Tupper to Trinity Place, and are just a couple of blocks from Dyno Group's offices on Johnson Park.
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"I’ve invested a lot of time and energy and creativity in developing this area over the last 10 years," said Wan, who also lives in the neighborhood and has renovated houses on Johnson Park and Tracy Street.
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Wan, a 41-year-old Buffalo native, is working with Silvestri Architects of Amherst and Jay Valgora of Studio V Architecture – a New York City architect who is originally from Hamburg and previously worked on Silo City – on designs for the project.
Plans for what would be a more than $10 million project are still preliminary, he stressed, but he expects the new structure would be about three stories in height, with 40,000 square feet of total space. It would focus on "rejuvenating things and respecting the vernacular of the neighborhood," and would also feature "some interesting brick detail" that "ties in well to the downtown corridor," he added.
As currently envisioned, the project would include eight studio apartments of over 500 square feet each, 26 one-bedroom units exceeding 650 square feet, and six two-bedroom apartments of about 1,000 square feet each. The building would also include both underground and surface parking spaces.
The ground-floor retail space would accommodate several small tenants.
Wan said he held a meeting with neighbors on Dec. 16. He has not yet submitted any documents to the city, but hopes to start work next year, with completion after 15 months by the end of 2024.
The presence of the auto business helped qualify the site for the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program, which means Wan can also get state tax credits to offset a significant part of his investment. He said he has no plans to seek tax breaks or other incentives, however.
"I've been champing at the bit to do this development for quite some time, but this is a larger project than what I've done previously," he said. "This is hopefully a big building block to make the area more spectacular."