Paula’s Donuts com­ing to city as board OKs Lark­inville project

2 build­ings planned for Seneca Street site

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

There’s no sugar-coat­ing this: Paula’s Donuts will be open­ing in Lark­inville.

The Buf­falo Plan­ning Board this week gave the green light to plans by Howard and Les­lie Zem­sky’s Larkin Devel­op­ment Group to con­struct a pair of two-story build­ings on Seneca Street – the larger of which will be an­chored by the fourth lo­ca­tion of the re­gion’s most pop­u­lar dough­nut shop.

Plans call for the two build­ings at 864 and 872 Seneca to mir­ror sim­i­lar nearby struc­tures, with ce­ment-board sid­ing, syn­thetic trims and alu­minum-clad win­dows that bring the streetscape back to a va­cant prop­erty.

“We’re pretty happy with the look,” said Jake Sch­nei­der of Sch­nei­der Ar­chi­tec­tural Ser­vices, who is work­ing with the Zem­skys. “We’re play­ing off the ar­chi­tec­ture that is im­me­di­ately across the street.”

Both build­ings on the 1.2-acre site near Fly­ing Bi­son Brew­ery and Buf­falo Dis­till­ing will have first-floor re­tail and apart­ments up­stairs, al­though no com­mer­cial ten­ant has been iden­ti­fied for the smaller, 4,000-square-foot build­ing. The big­ger of the two, at 8,000 square feet, will have four apart­ments – two one-bed­room and two two-bed­room units – while the other will have a pair of two-bed­room units.

“We’re pleased about this devel­op­ment com­ing to the neigh­bor­hood,” said Tim Her­zog, owner of Fly­ing Bi­son, not­ing that the brew­ery al­ready has an agree­ment with the Hu­ber fam­ily, which owns Paula’s Donuts, to pro­vide food from Paula’s to its own cus­tomers in or­der to com­ply with new state re­quire­ments.

The $2 mil­lion project in­cludes 42 park­ing spa­ces – three times what is re­quired by code, but “we all know Paula’s Donuts and how busy they can be dur­ing the day,”


the day,” said Thomas Ku­jawa, also an ar­chi­tect with Sch­nei­der. So 14 spa­ces wouldn’t be suf­fi­cient. “We know that’s not go­ing to han­dle Paula’s,” he said.

There will also be an out­door pa­tio area out­side Paula’s, at 872 Seneca, with an “iconic sculp­tural piece” that the Zem­skys and Hu­bers are de­sign­ing to­gether, Ku­jawa said.

Larkin al­ready ob­tained a pair of vari­ances from the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals, clear­ing the way for the project to be­gin.

“We’re re­ally bring­ing the neigh­bor­hood back to the way it was, back when it was Larkin Soap Co. and the hy­draulics. There were no empty lots,” Les­lie Zem­sky said. “So this re­ally com­pletes this whole sec­tion. It’s a great vibe, and it’s the eastern en­trance of the neigh­bor­hood.”

Mean­while, just up the street, Larkin is propos­ing an enor­mous five-story build­ing at 799 Seneca called Mill Race Com­mons, with apart­ments, of­fice space and a host of ameni­ties. The 2-acre for­mer brown­field site has al­ready been cleared, cleaned and cov­ered with gravel as an event park­ing lot, but was not in­tended to re­main va­cant, the Zem­skys have pre­vi­ously said.

Plans call for two wings of the 140,000-square-foot build­ing, with one end run­ning along Seneca Street that would con­tain five re­tail shops on the ground level and 70 apart­ments up­stairs, with a mix of four stu­dios, 51 onebed­room units and 15 dou­bles. It would also fea­ture a sunken and gated swim­ming pool, as well as a rooftop pa­tio for ten­ants, and a fit­ness cen­ter.

“We would like to see more peo­ple liv­ing in the neigh­bor­hood,” Les­lie Zem­sky said. “Our other of­fice build­ings are pre­dom­i­nantly full, but there is strong in­ter­est among busi­nesses to move down to the Larkin neigh­bor­hood. They know this is a great re­cruit­ing tool, be­cause of the many brew­eries, busi­nesses and restau­rants and Larkin Square that is there for their em­ploy­ees.

“But to have a true live­work-play neigh­bor­hood, you have to have more res­i­dents.”

Around the cor­ner on Hy­draulic Street, the sec­ond wing – in­spired by the de­sign of an old foundry build­ing – will have five floors of com­mer­cial of­fice space, with 10,000 square feet on each level. A sin­gle-story con­nec­tor build­ing will link the two wings of the struc­ture, which is short walk from Larkin Square.

The 1920s-style build­ing de­sign will use “a lot of brick,” with dif­fer­ent col­ors and “ter­rific de­tail­ing” that is “very rem­i­nis­cent of 19th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture in Buf­falo,” Sch­nei­der said. It will in­clude Juliet bal­conies, dou­bleFrench doors, fiber­glass and dec­o­ra­tive cor­nices. The $17 mil­lion project will have 72 park­ing spa­ces, but will share park­ing with the Paula’s site and other nearby lots owned by Larkin Devel­op­ment.

“I have to ap­plaud,” said Plan­ning Board mem­ber Martha Lam­par­elli. “The way you’ve brought in the foundry look, it re­ally com­ple­ments that whole neigh­bor­hood. It’s go­ing to be beau­ti­ful.”

As with the two smaller build­ings, Larkin re­ceived two zon­ing vari­ances that it needed to be­gin. But the Plan­ning Board had to table the project be­cause it was one vote short of a quo­rum af­ter Lam­par­elli re­cused her­self be­cause of a con­flict of in­ter­est. The project will come back for con­sid­er­a­tion in two weeks.

Plans call for the two build­ings at 864 and 872 Seneca Street to mir­ror sim­i­lar nearby struc­tures and bring the streetscape back to a va­cant prop­erty. Paula’s Donuts will an­chor the big­ger of the pair of two-story build­ings.

1.2-acre site will be turned into apart­ments, re­tail.

Derek Gee/Buf­falo News file photo

Pre­vi­ous rounds of New York Main Street funds helped to ren­o­vate Buf­falo’s Theater District.

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