Three-story mixed-use build­ing on Allen Street gets ap­proval

The Buffalo News - - BUSINESS NEWS - By Jonathan D. Ep­stein NEWS BUSI­NESS RE­PORTER

Buf­falo’s Plan­ning Board on Tues­day gave the green light to plans for a new mixed-use apart­ment and re­tail build­ing on Allen Street that would re­use the fa­cade of an old build­ing.

Prop­erty owner May Wang wants to spend $1.7 mil­lion to con­struct a three-story build­ing at 15 Allen St., re­placin­gatwo-sto­rys­truc­turethatwill be de­mol­ished ex­cept for the front. The new build­ing would fea­ture a 1,500-square-foot, first-floor re­tail space and 10 apart­ments.

Lo­cated on the north side of Allen, next to a patch of green space along Main Street, the struc­ture would oc­cupy vir­tu­ally the en­tire prop­erty, but ar­chi­tect Adam Sokol said it com­plies with the city’s new Green Code. Wang, who also owns 19 Allen St., com­bined the parcels into one for pur­poses of light­ing and cre­at­ing a path for the new apart­ment build­ing. The project, which is aimed at Buf­falo Ni­a­gara Med­i­cal Cam­pus work­ers just a short walk away, will also in­clude a new out­door space for ten­ants.

“It goes with­out say­ing that this is a great tran­sit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment project,” Sokol said.

Wang had wanted to rehab the ex­ist­ing his­toric build­ing, but the pro­posal didn’t qual­ify for the his­toric tax cred­its needed to fi­nance the work. “There were a lot of chal­lenges with the Na­tional Park Ser­vice and the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the build­ing,” Sokol said.

Ul­ti­mately, af­ter six ap­pear­ances be­fore the Buf­falo Preser­va­tion Board, Wang and Sokol were al­lowed to de­mol­ish the older build­ing as long as they in­cor­po­rated the fa­cade into the new struc­ture, reusing the orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­als as much as pos­si­ble.

“What’s there to­day is highly de­te­ri­o­rated,” Sokol said. “It’s not in the best of con­di­tion.”

The brick and cast-stone trim work will be sal­vaged and repli­cated where needed or ap­pro­pri­ate, while the wood­work would be re­stored. The east side will be made of ar­chi­tec­tural con­crete ma­sonry, while the rest of the new construction will use light gray fiber ce­ment pan­els.

“I’ve been down there 12 years. This build­ing has been in dis­ar­ray all that time,” said Roslyn Righetti, who owns a nearby build­ing on Main Street. “I’m very happy we’re do­ing some­thing with it, be­cause I’m get­ting tired of look­ing at it,” she said.

But she ex­pressed con­cern about the im­pact of construction on her build­ing. “Once you demo this build­ing, where will all the rats, ro­dents and the rest of the crit­ters go?” said asked.

Sokol said he was “a bit at a loss about the rats.”

“I’m an ar­chi­tect. We de­sign things to code,” he said.

A ren­der­ing of the $1.7 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment project pro­posed for 15 Allen St., where an ex­ist­ing build­ing will be de­mol­ished, and some of its fa­cade el­e­ments used in the new struc­ture.

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