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Condo Project Approved at Waterfront Village

by Jonathan Epstein -- The Buffalo News
Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 01:00 pm
The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, at its meeting Thursday, approved Ciminelli's $19.5 million proposal for the 2.4-acre property at 240-260 Lakefront Blvd. The "preferred" status effectively gives Ciminelli exclusive rights to develop the land, which it will acquire from BURA for $2.2 million.

Plans call for a four-story "mid-rise" building with 15 to 20 units and 10 three-story townhomes that would be set back 100 feet from the water, along with a potential outdoor swimming pool. The townhomes would be built in a "traditional arrangement," mostly fronting on Lakefront with access of Ojidwa Circle, said Ciminelli Executive Vice President Dennis Penman.

Tentatively, the units would sell for an average of about $650,000, but ranging from $500,000 to $750,000 each, depending on the type of unit, Penman said. The mid-rise units would be traditional condos of 2,500 to 3,000 square feet, with underground parking, while the three-story townhouses would be 2,800 to 2,900 square feet, with attached two-car garages.

Final plans are not yet complete. After BURA, the project must still be considered for approval by the Buffalo Common Council and the city Planning Board. Additionally, the sales offering materials must still be finalized, and are subject to approval by the state Attorney General, "so there's a lot of road ahead of us," Penman said.

Penman said that, while it's still possible to start construction later this year, it's more likely that the firm will start site work in the third quarter "in preparation for a 2016 project."

"I could see people living in some of the space in summer 2016," he said. "Not all of it, but incrementally."

Already, he said, Ciminelli has 10 "active, realistic interested parties" to buy units, and "we're going to try to design the product around those interested parties."

The decision would complete a process started last summer, when BURA issued a request for proposals for the property to over 150 local, national and international developers. Only two entities submitted final proposals. Ciminelli's project beat out a rival proposal from a combined team of McGuire Development Group and Impacto Consulting, which called for a six-story mid-rise building with 30 units and 10 to 12 townhomes set back 50 feet from the water.

Ciminelli is seeking to capitalize on the popularity of the waterfront area, which has picked up with the renewed activity in downtown and especially in Canalside. Buffalo General Medical Center surgeon and real estate investor Dr. Fadi Dagher has acquired three office buildings at Waterfront Village in the past couple of years, and resales of condo units have increased, with prices roughly in the range that Ciminelli set for its new units.

"There's a very low inventory of unit, and we've been encouraged by the local real estate community that works down there," he said.

Penman also said the condo units are being designed for people who have already lived in the Waterfront Village area, such as in larger townhomes, but are now ready to downsize to a one-floor unit, and have already expressed interest. The firm has already met with the Waterfront Village Association, prior to the final selection process, and will continue such meetings to fine-tune the plans "so that at the end of the day, we're good neighbors and are doing the right thing," he said.

The proposed project would wrap up one of the last pieces of land available in the waterfront area. Two other remaining parcels are slated for commercial development, one in front of Waterfront Village that has not been assigned to anyone and the other next to the Templeton Landing restaurant that is already designated for eventual development by Carl Paladino's Ellicott Development Co. for his Carlo project.