Buffalo Planning Board members Monday applauded a proposal by Miami-based Generation Development Group to put 158 apartments and nearly 40,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space in a former malthouse at Silo City – in the first phase of what could eventually be more than 400 units in the complex.
Generation Development – led by Marvin Wilmoth, Anthony Ceroy and Jennifer Ceroy – wants to spend $70 million to renovate the vacant American Malting Company structure at 139 Buffalo River Road, creating residential space, artists' studios and community space in the westernmost building of the complex as part of what Wilmoth called "an exciting and vibrant mixed-use development." At the same time, they're working with state and federal regulators to maintain the historic integrity of the longtime industrial site, which sits on a peninsula jutting into the river.
The building includes a five-story malthouse and an eight-story flour mill section. Work will include restoration of the masonry and window pattern, while introducing light wells into the facility in spaces formerly occupied by machinery and tanks.
Pedestrian paths are planned "to encourage our residents to live healthier lifestyles," Wilmoth said.
The next two phases would be similar, with some variations in specific elements such as the type of artists' studios.
"It's an amazing project, really ambitious," said board member Martha Lamparelli.
Planning Board members questioned if there would be enough parking to accommodate public access to the river, but Wilmoth said the 190-space parking lot should be sufficient, since residents would likely be gone during the daytime hours.
"I believe we’re going to want this to be open to all residents in Buffalo," Wilmoth said. "Anyone who’s coming to take advantage of the waterfront would come during the day."
Wilmoth said the specific mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, their size and their rents have not yet been determined, but the developers hope to "move very quickly into advanced design development" after gaining the city's approval.
The developers had just submitted the results of a requested traffic study to the Department of Public Works, so the board could not act Monday.
Wilmoth said he expects the project to win approval at the next meeting in two weeks.
Work is expected to start in June and finish by April 2022, although Wilmoth said they hope to start opening up the first apartments in summer 2021.
"This is the most ambitious project that we’ve undertaken," he said.
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