Washington developer Douglas Jemal made his first and biggest impression on Buffalo since he bought the then-vacant Seneca One tower out of foreclosure in 2016.
And he hasn't stopped since.
He’s spending $150 million to redevelop and refill the 38-story complex – Buffalo’s tallest and one of its largest – into an office tower anchored by M&T Bank Corp.’s technology hub and other technology companies, but also with 115 apartments and retail space.
But that’s far from his only investment in Western New York, as Jemal has inserted himself into virtually every major troubled real estate situation in the city and even its largest suburb.
He's redeveloping the Statler City complex, which he purchased from the estate of Mark Croce, into an apartment building and events destination.
Jemal is negotiating to take over the Hyatt Regency Buffalo – he already holds the mortgage – and he's planning to use that for the hospitality element of the Statler project.
And that's just the start. From the former Buffalo Police headquarters and the Richardson-Olmsted Complex to the Boulevard Mall, Jemal is spending hundreds of millions of dollars – at least $400 by his own estimate – to remake the city’s landscape and bring its treasures back to life.
He’s even donating to local charities, including his recently announced push to help the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park raise $1 million to repair and save the USS The Sullivans. And he owns a house on Nottingham Terrace so he has his own place to stay when he's in town.
Here’s a more detailed look at Jemal's deals.
Seneca One Tower
Address: 1 Seneca St.
Description: 1.2 million-square-foot complex with 38-story tower, two sprawling base levels and two four-story annexes.
Plans: Remake into technology-centered commercial hub, plus 115 residential apartments, food service and retail space.
Cost: $150 million
Status: Underway. Multiple commercial tenants have signed leases, including M&T Bank Corp., and 93 apartments are leased.
Buffalo Police Headquarters
Address: 74 Franklin St.
Description: 85-year-old, 130,676-square-foot, art-deco-style structure with four floors.
Plans: Convert into Police Apartments, with 113 apartments, consisting of three two-bedroom units, 55 one-bedroom apartments and 55 studio units. Jemal will also restore and highlight the preserved jail cellblock.
Cost: $23 million
Status: In progress. Expected to open in July 2021.
Address: 107 Delaware Ave.
Description: Century-old, 800,000-square-foot historic landmark hotel with three towers and 18 floors.
Plans: Two-year conversion into 536 apartments on floors 3-18, with the banquet and events center and retail shops at the bottom levels, as well as gaming or convention space in the basement.
Cost: $150 million, including $7.75 million purchase
Status: Exterior work, interior demolition and abatement are ongoing for next three months.
Hyatt Regency Buffalo
Address: 2 Fountain Plaza
Description: 396-room, 350,000-square-foot full-service hotel in 16-story historic Genesee Building, on 1.8 acres.
Plans: Already owns the mortgage but negotiating with Snyder Corp. to take over hotel so he can reopen and upgrade it.
Cost: Uncertain, but spent $9.7 million to purchase the foreclosed mortgage.
Richardson-Olmsted Campus/Hotel Henry
Address: 444 Forest Ave.
Description: 463,000-square-foot campus with 13 vacant buildings, originally the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane.
Plans: Negotiating to lease and reuse 10 of 13 buildings, including three buildings used by Hotel Henry and seven to the west, totaling 202,000 square feet. Would reopen the hotel, and convert other buildings to residential and retail use.
Cost: $50 million for west buildings
Skyway Loop Lot
Address: 61 Terrace
Description: 0.87-acre vacant city-owned lot, surrounded by highway loop and now used for parking.
Plans: Planning nine-story, 300,000-square-foot new building, with 200 apartments and 500 structured parking spaces, adjacent to Seneca One tower.
Cost: $42 million
Status: Pending, potential completion end of 2022
River Rock Incubator
Address: 175 Rano St.
Description: 95,000-square-foot, two- and three-story brick industrial complex in Riverside.
Plans: Restore it as a business incubator, through Start-up NY and SUNY Buffalo State. Currently have some tenants, while using remaining space as storage, but seeking new occupants.
Cost: Uncertain, but $525,000 purchase
Hook & Ladder Firehouse
Address: 174 Chicago St., plus 186 Chicago and 83 Fulton St.
Description: 2.5-story brick building with 5,928 square feet on 0.25 acres, behind Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
Plans: “Cool bar” and three to four residential apartments
Cost: Uncertain, but $325,000 purchase
Status: Pending. Work has not begun.
Boulevard Mall and Wegmans
Address: 730 and 675 Alberta Drive, Amherst
Description: Second-largest enclosed retail shopping mall in Western New York, with 64 acres.
Plans: 10-year project to transform into new lifestyle center dubbed Boulevard Place, with retail, office and residential elements, and new streets through the site. Wegmans and certain other stores will remain.
Cost: At least $100 million, plus $30 million purchase