Ciminelli Starts Selling Bethune Lofts As Condos

Mon, Jan 23rd 2023 06:00am

Jonathan D. Epstein
The Buffalo News

Condos have not typically been a major part of the Buffalo residential market, but that’s been changing
with the success of prior efforts such as Jake Schneider’s Historic Warehouse Lofts at 210 Ellicott St., which Schneider first converted seven years ago, before adding six more units in 2021. Additionally, developer Paul Kolkmeyer’s Priam Enterprises also plans to convert the apartments at The Glenny on Main Street, and, later, those at the Marin next door.

“We think the market is right. We think the timing is right,” Ciminelli CEO Paul Ciminelli said. “Mortgage rates are higher now, but we are still pretty bullish about the opportunity.” Ciminelli began the long regulatory process in 2020, before formally applying to the state Attorney General’s office in February 2022. The units are now being offered through 716 Realty Group, at prices ranging from the middle $100,000s and up to the high $300,000s. Twelve units are available, including a two-bedroom model unit on the ground floor.

No one is being evicted, so the building at 2917 Main will exist as a hybrid for some time, with both for-sale and for-rent units, as Ciminelli honors existing leases and waits for potential buyers to come forward with offers – including current tenants, who get first dibs for 90 days starting this month. The process is expected to take 18 months to two years, Ciminelli said. Under the offering plan approved by the state, the process can’t formally begin until at least 13 apartments have buyers. But that’s not expected to be a problem, said Gregory Straus, broker-owner of 716 Realty, which is handling the marketing and sales for Ciminelli. There’s already a dozen tenants interested in buying their units, and another nine apartments are vacant. Meanwhile, he noted, 31 condos are available for sale across the city, but only nine are priced under $400,000. And none of them are in the popular North Buffalo area around Main Street and Hertel Avenue, he added.

“Many of these units’ price points will make purchasing a possibility for many that previously chose a luxury apartment over a single or multi-family home, which is more common in the area,” Straus said. Special financing is available through Northwest Savings Bank and Bank on Buffalo.

Bethune Lofts is located near Hertel Avenue and within a block from a Metro Rail train station. It has 37 one-bedroom and 50 two-bedroom apartments. The four-story building was completed in 1917 for Buffalo Meter, which was one of the nation’s best-known makers of water meters during the first half of the 20th century.  Buffalo Meter moved out by 1970, and the building was purchased by University at Buffalo in May 1971. It housed the art and architecture departments, and part of the Division of Continuing Education, and was renamed after Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first professional female architect. UB vacated the building by 1994, and it was auctioned off by the state in July 2005. Ciminelli bought it in 2010, and launched its redevelopment. It has also been listed on both the state and national Registers of Historic Places.