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Planning Board, ZBA back housing, solar energy projects

Planning Board, ZBA back housing, solar energy projects

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A proposal to build 150 units of affordable housing in the middle of a long and slender former railroad right-of-way between Delaware and Colvin avenues cleared its final municipal hurdle Monday, after the city Planning Board approved the Delaware Avenue Apartments project.

DePaul Development Services of Rochester wants to construct a 174,000-square-foot complex at 2633 Delaware, with three interconnected four-story buildings in a curved row, linked by one-story connectors.

Designed by architectural firm SWBR of Rochester and C&S Engineers, the $30 million project would feature mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments, plus eight two-bedroom units. The apartments will average about 750 square feet, and are priced to be affordable for those earning 60% of the area median income. They will rent from $800 to $950 per month, including utilities.

There will also be supportive units for people recovering from mental health challenges, and DePaul will have staff on site to help 24 hours a day.

The buildings would be clad with a combination of stone, a wood or composite siding for the upper floors and infill areas, and vertical metal accents. The main entrance and drop-off would be in the center building, which would also host the primary community and service areas, a dining and cooking area, the mailroom and facility offices. 

The 11.03-acre property – which also includes 2629 Delaware, 520 Colvin and 291 Virgil Ave. – is very narrow at both ends and bulges in the middle, with uneven slopes, particularly around the rail lines. There are easements on both the north and south sides, with apartment buildings bordering toward the west, and single-family homes toward the east.

The structures would sit in a rectangle in the center of a wooded area, with extensions of land running 1,000 feet east and 670 feet west toward the main roads. The rest of the site would remain landscaped recreational and greenspace, with a bicycle and pedestrian path winding from Delaware to Colvin.

The only vehicle entrance to the site would be from Delaware, between Delaware Camera and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. An emergency access for fire trucks will be created where Virgil dead-ends, but it will have a locked metal gate and crash barrier that only fire crews could open. There would be no vehicle access from any other streets.

The project includes a few scattered parking areas, with 83 spaces, plus the ability to create up to 25 more, although officials stressed that many affordable housing tenants don't have cars. DePaul will also have a shuttle for residents who need it.

"The primary parking lots are a bit remote. We wish we could change that, but the site has us a little constrained," said Dan Glading, senior project architect with SWBR. "It’s not an insignificant walk, for sure."

The project received five variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals last week.

DePaul is seeking state funding for the project, and hopes to begin construction by spring 2022.

DePaul-Delaware Avenue Apartments-site plan

The full site plan for DePaul Developmental Services' Delaware Avenue Apartments, showing the extent of the property stretching from Delaware to Colvin avenues.

Solar farm earns backing

The Planning Board on Monday also backed a request by Greenwich, Conn.-based Source Renewables to rezone 13 properties on Marilla, Hopkins and Tifft streets – comprising the former Marilla Street Landfill – from rail and greenspace to light industrial.

The community solar and alternative energy provider wants to put up a solar farm on two-thirds of the 107-acre former slag landfill. The venture would include installation of 31,800 solar panels across 62.8 acres. The two-array farm would generate 10 megawatts of power, or enough to power about 1,500 residential households.

With the Planning Board's recommendation, the rezoning application can now go to the Common Council.

Variances for apartments at St. John Kanty approved

Also last week, the ZBA approved variances for Community Services for Every1 and Edgemere Development to convert the former school building of St. John Kanty Roman Catholic Church into 37 affordable housing units.

Plans by Carmina Wood Morris for the $17.7 million Apartments at the Lyceum project call for 26 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom apartments in the building at 101 Swinburne St., in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. Twelve units would be reserved as permanent supportive housing for survivors of domestic violence, while four would be accessible for those with mobility impairments. Two units would be designated for people with hearing or visual impairments.

The project includes the purchase of 10 adjacent and vacant lots that will be combined for parking, greenspace, building access and a playground.

The ZBA also:

  • Approved a variance to allow Earl Ketry to put up a 90-foot-tall ferris wheel at Riverworks, on top of the 15-foot elevated platform known as Stonehenge, near the Labatt Blue "six-pack" silos. The red, white and blue-painted Italian-built attraction - which is expected to open by May - will have custom features and glass-enclosed copper cars. Three children's rides are also planned.
  • Approved a variance to allow St. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church at 44 Benzinger St. to turn an adjacent side property at 40 Benzinger into a parking lot with 23 spaces and handicapped access to the building.
  • Approved a variance to allow Jerry Nelson of Budd Lake, N.J., to use a vacant grassy lawn at 28 Glenwood as an 11-space parking lot for the adjacent 12,000-square-foot office building at 1437 Main St.
  • Delayed a request by Niagara Deli & Pizzeria for an addition and renovation project at 2039-2045 Niagara St. Plans by Sutton Architecture include a two-story, 1,859-square-foot addition to an existing 4,099-square-foot single-story building - which is used for the pizzeria, a convenience store and storage - and an additional 1,680-square-foot floor for the adjacent warehouse building. The project will allow for an expanded pizzeria, more storage, office space and a one-bedroom apartment. The ZBA approved seven area variances, but tabled the use variance to allow the restaurant. 
  • Tabled a request for several variances to allow construction of a six-unit apartment building at the rear of the long property at 86 Winspear Ave., behind an existing single-family house. The house would remain, but a garage would be demolished.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Preservation Board on March 18 did not object to plans by Lazarus Industries to tear down an unoccupied double-unit house at 784 Military Road, at Kenmore Avenue, in preparation for putting up a new 8,000-square-foot pre-fabricated commercial building, which could house multiple retail, light industrial or warehouse tenants. The Preservation Board also scheduled public hearings for April 15 on applications to designate the Spolka Building at 436 Amherst St., along with a building at 516 Amherst St., as local landmarks.

The Buffalo News: Good Morning, Buffalo

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Related to this story

  • Updated

DePaul Properties, a Rochester-based social-services agency, has completed its $17 million redevelopment of a former clothing manufacturing facility into 48 affordable housing apartments in Wyoming County. The nonprofit formally opened its new Knitting Mill Apartments in the Village of Perry this week, with more than half of the units reserved for individuals eligible for supportive services and job training

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