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Monday, July 16
Yonkers School 6 to Make Way for Housing Minimize

"The historic archway of a long-abandoned school building will be preserved as part of the façade of a new affordable-housing complex to rise in its place next year. Mayor Mike Spano will join the developers of the Schoolhouse Terrace at Croton Heights project at noon Tuesday to hail the start of demolition at the derelict former School 6 building at 33 Ashburton Ave.

The school is being razed to make way for a mid-rise structure with 51 senior-citizen housing units and a high-rise with 70 units for lower-income families. The $58 million development is part of the Yonkers Municipal Housing Authority’s broader plan to transform a blighted swath of the city’s west side.

“After many years of planning, this event marks the beginning of the transformation of the lower Ashburton Avenue corridor,” Spano’s office said. The school itself has been abandoned for more than 30 years and has fallen into a state of disrepair too severe for preservation, they said. The new complex will feature a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, plus 2,400 square feet of community space and two underground parking garages with 134 spaces.

The breakdown of affordable units: 26 for households earning under 30 percent of the area median income, 44 for families earning under 60 percent, and 50 for seniors earning under 50 percent. The building superintendent will also have a unit. The design meets both LEED and state environmental sustainability standards." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project in 2012.
December 2012

Taylor Breaks Ground for the Legends at North Ponds Minimize

"Taylor, a leading regional general contractor, has been awarded the contract for construction of The Legends at North Ponds. Taylor is teaming with a local develoepr, Peter Landers, 822HR LLC, and Lauer-Manguso & Associates Architects for design and construction of the 114 senior-lifestyle apartments at 842 Holt Road. M&T Bank is providing 822HR LLC the construction financing for the development. Construction work is currently underway, with a project occupancy date slated for June of 2013.

Peter Landers, 822HR LLC, the developer, indicated that North Ponds Village Apartments will address the growing need for high quality and moderately priced independent senior communities with all the latest amenities.

"This development provides Webster and the Rochester community with quality lifestyle apartments in a prime location," said Taylor president, Karl Schuler. "We are proud to maintain our relationship with Peter Landers, the developer of North Ponds Village and the owner of many upscale town home and apartment communities in the greater Rochester area. We are excited to once again collaborate on another exciting project beneficial to our region."

With an ever-expanding need for lower-maintenance living options in our region, this premier development will feature the construction of one 67,000 sq.ft, 3-story building targeting independent seniors 70+; the construction of two 27,000 sq.ft., 3-story buildings will target more active adults between the ages of 55-70; all with the option of conveniently located detached garages.

Situated within walking distance from the Town Center Plaza and Wegmans, the apartments will enjoy spectacular views of North Ponds Park with access to its scenic walking trails." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2012.

New York Real Estate Journal
October 2012

Capital Grand Condos Recast as $10M Apartment Project Minimize

"Norstar Development USA is resurrecting plans to build a large, multi-family development in downtown Albany, but this time it will be apartments instead of condominiums. The Buffalo-based developer wants to build a four-story, 83,300 sq.ft., 70-unit building at 733 Broadway near Quackenbush Square.

Construction would cost about $10 million, said Richard Higgins, company president. "We're pursuing our financing now," Higgins said. "We're hopeful that falls into place in the next four months or so."

The site is the same place where Norstar planned four years ago to build a $42 million, nine-story, 125-unit luxury condo development called Capital Grand. About 50 units were pre-sold with prices as high as $516,000. Despite strong demand, the condo project was halted after financing requirements tightened considerably during the recession.

Now, Higgins said the timing is right to pursue apartments there instead. A two-story, 47,200 sq.ft. building would be demolished to make room for the apartments. "Interest rates are low and we see strong demand in some of the smaller projects downtown," he said. "The type of project we're building is very efficient. We've never questioned the demand that's down there."

Developers are having success converting upper floors into apartments downtown. More than $35 million has been invested in downtown residential projects over the past two years, according to the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District. Those include 17 Chapel, the 24-unit luxury condominiums on Chapel Street, and The Monroe, a 43-unit apartment building that just opened around the corner.

Mayor Jerry Jennings has made residential development a priority to reverse the decades-long pattern of downtown streets emptying after state workers leave their offices at 5 p.m. and drive home to the suburbs. "The more residential we can get online, the better off we'll be. The question is, how do you bring people down here so they feel comfortable?" Jennings said at a breakfast hosted this week by the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"We have to bring residential down here - then you'll get your Stewart's and retailers and all else that goes into revitalizing an urban center," Jennings said. "We need mixed use. We need people living here."

The Norstar development would be the latest project to help accomplish that goal. The units would have rental rates of $1.50 per sq.ft., Higgins said. A 1,000 sq.ft. unit would cost $1,500 monthly. There would be off-street parking for 70 vehicles.

The engineering firm Hershberg and Hershberg of Albany was scheduled to present the project to the Albany Planning Board this week. Norstar will also week a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal with the city and other assistance. 3tarchitects in Albany designed the building." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2012.

The Business Review
October 2012

GAR In The News Minimize

Winn Details Its Plans for Sibley Centre

"Initial redevelopment plans for the downtown Sibley Centre include market-rate housing on the top three floors and affordable housing on three floors below that, a Winn Cos. official said this week. The 12-story building will be redeveloped for mixed uses, said Christopher Fleming, project executive, with retail businesses on the first and second floors and office space on the third and sixth floors.

"The Rochester Police Department is going to be taking a chunk on the first floor," Fleming said. "That'll probably go pretty soon after we close. We're just waiting for them to finish up their plans." Market-rate apartments are planned for floors 10 through12, with affordable housing on floors seven through nine, he said. "That, of course, is subject to change as things happen in the market," Fleming said.

Monroe Community College will continue to occupy the fourth and fifth floors under the school's five-year lease extension. The floors will be converted to office space if MCC relocates after five years. The Boston-based real estate firm expects to close on the $5 million purchase by early October, Fleming said. The company plans to spend $3.75 million on repairs and improvements, including compliance with MCC's lease arrangement, city officials said. It will spend $100 million to $150 million over 10 years to completely renovate the building, city officials said.

Sibley Redevelopment L.P., an affiliate of Winn Development LLC, is the buyer. Rochwil Associates L.P., a subsidiary of Wilmorite Properties Inc., is the seller. "We're going to be doing a bunch of image-changing maintenance and repairs to the building to liven it up a little while we're going about our leasing efforts," Fleming said. "We're going to try to change the look and feel of the building right away so people get the sense that there's a new energy being infused in there." The work will be focused on the ground floor and on the exterior, he said. "It's sort of like a rolling rehab, if you will," he said. "As we finish one thing, we'll be moving on to the next. If one thing gets out of sequence, we'll do something else first, depending on if we hit any speed bumps. I think you'll see stuff continuously over the next 24 to 36 months."

Loan, taxes

The acquisition includes Winn's assumption of an obligation to repay a loan of nearly $3.2 million that was made by the city of Rochester to Rochwil, city officials said last Friday. The company must pay 1 percent annual interest on the 10-year loan and use a portion of its cash flow to pay down the principal balance. The loan originally was financed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 108 loan guarantee program. The city paid off its HUD obligation in July, officials said.

Mayor Thomas Richards has submitted legislation to City Council to approve terms of the sale at the Sept. 19 meeting. Winn is applying for a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement through the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency. "We anticipate closing in late September or early October, then starting within a few weeks after the COMIDA vote and starting renovations immediately," Fleming said.

Winn already has begun renovations for MCC, the building's primary tenant. "Some of their space needed some work," Fleming said. "We've replaced some HVAC equipment. We've washed their windows for them. We're proceeding as if we're going to be owners of the building. But we'll dive in in a serious way right after we close."

MCC's board of trustees has decided to relocate the downtown campus to Eastman Kodak Co. buildings on State Street. The move is contingent on approval for a bond issue from the County Legislature and on Kodak's bankruptcy proceedings. "We think we've started to develop a very productive working relationship with MCC," Fleming said. "We've been real responsive to their needs. That's important.

"They're going to be the biggest tenant in the building for the next five years. We wanted to make sure they understood that we care about them being happy, and we're going to do the things required to make them happy." Richards continues to push for MCC to remain at Sibley. "MCC has been clear about what they want to do," he said. "I've been clear about what I think they should do. And those are two different things. I don't think that's resolved, because of the circumstances with respect to Kodak. It matters that you're bankrupt. We'll see how this all shakes out. But this (acquisition) is independent of that. Even if they're only going to be there another five years, I think this is a good thing for them. They now have an interested landlord who's going to invest in the building and improve the circumstances. It works however you look at it."

Long path

The transaction would end a stalemate of nearly 20 years between the city and the current building owner, which owes nearly $20 million in unpaid property taxes and loan repayments, city officials said. Rochwil will not be released from its financial obligations, but the entity does not have the assets to repay its debt, city officials said. "The city is going to lose some money on this, that's for sure," Richards said. "But we've known that for a long time. What's new is we have a solution here. That building has been a problem looking for a solution for a long time, the better part of 20 years. We've got an original transaction that didn't work. It worked for a while, but it failed quite some time ago. It's been accumulating debt that would never get paid. Until we came up with some kind of a solution, it was going to continue to fester."

The city has been hamstrung by what is commonly called a standstill agreement preventing the city from acting to collect the debt unless the owner of the first mortgage agreed to the action or the mortgage was paid off, Richards said. "When I first got involved in this," said Richards, who entered public service in 2006 as city corporation counsel to then-Mayor Robert Duffy, "the first mortgage was fairly substantial, more than the value of the building. It may have been as much as $15 million; it was over $10 million. That sort of froze the whole thing in place. We did not agree to that this time. If we're not paid, we're not frozen in place."

The absence of a standstill agreement-designed to prevent a hostile takeover of an entity-would not have ensured a successful outcome for Sibley under Rochwil, nor does it under Winn, Richards said. "There is, in life, no guarantee that everything will work out," he said. "That's the nature of projects. Even if we could have taken some action, the city would have to have a plan for what it was going to do with the building. We still would've needed somebody to deal with the building. But we would've had more freedom, and the thing wouldn't have gone on so long. That's different in this transaction."

Richards is not bothered by the Rochwil deal, which closed in February 1992, Monroe County property records show. Sibley's closed its doors in 1989.  "I'm not somebody who's actually critical of that original arrangement," Richards said. "I think you have to put yourself in the position of the people who did it back in the early 1990s, and how important the Sibley building was and all the efforts they made to save it, and its influence on downtown. It's easy to go back and say, 'You should've done this, you should've done that.' But we have to deal with the reality we have to deal with."

The present Sibley structure on 3.5 acres at the northwest corner of East Main and Franklin streets had its beginnings 107 years ago, following a fire in 1904 that destroyed the original Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co. department store. A 391,444-square-foot, five-story section along East Main was built in 1905, information from the online Department Store Museum states. A 585,372-square-foot, 12-story section was added in 1926. Winn Development entered into a site control agreement with Rochwil in September 2009 to purchase the building, city officials said. "We came and took a look at it, and that's the kind of thing we like to do, which is complicated urban redevelopment," Fleming said. "It seemed like a good opportunity."

The property is assessed at $9.2 million, with a land value of $644,000, Monroe County records show. "That building is over 1 million square feet," Richards said. "It's arguably one of the most, if not the most, attractive buildings downtown. "It's a little like Midtown (Plaza redevelopment). We're not going to bring downtown back or reimagine downtown unless we solve that problem." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal of this project in 2012.

Rochester Business Journal
September 2012


Liberty Gardens Breaks Ground on New Community Center

"Liberty Gardens, a 180-unit housing project, has stood for 60 years as one of the main public housing centers in the city. During a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday morning, a host of local elected officials gathered to dedicate a new community center in the complex to Edward W. Corr, the treasurer of the Rome Housing Authority’s board of commissioners.

Corr, 93, was recognized for serving on the board for more than 50 years and his role in the Liberty Gardens rehabilitation project. During the ceremony, Corr received numerous letters of commendation for his service, including a proclamation from the city declaring Aug. 20 as Edward Corr Day.

The 6,000-square-foot community building will include meeting space, a computer lab with Internet access, a kitchen and a central laundry room. Working with the commission has been a civic duty and seeing the project move toward completion has made him proud, Corr said. “When I walk around the complex and see all of it, it makes me thankful to have been a part of it,” he said.

Over the past year, the city and Omni Development, an Albany-based developer, have been renovating older buildings and building new units at Liberty Gardens, which was built in 1952 and provides subsidized housing for low-income residents.

By the end of this year, more than 100 units will be complete. The three-phase, $40 million project will take several more years to complete, said Duncan Barrett, chief operating officer of Omni Housing Development. “It might be hard to see the final picture right now but when everything is in place I promise you the residents, the city and the state will be proud of this project,” he said.

The Rome Housing Authority received a $2.4 million low-interest loan along with an allocation of Low Income Housing Credits worth $1.65 million. This funding financed the rehabilitation of 78 out of the 180 apartments.

Many of the speakers at the ceremony praised the work and dedication of the state office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito of Rome in pushing for the project. Previously, Destito served as state Assemblywoman for the 116th District.

Over the years, the apartments slowly fell into disrepair. Much of the renovation efforts focused on making the apartments energy efficient to keep tenants’ bills as low as possible. Destito recalled a tour of one woman’s apartment she took three years ago. “It was in the middle of winter and there was ice building up on the inside of her windows,” she said. “There were clearly issues there.”

Omni Housing Development will become the new management for the site, taking it off the hands of the city’s housing authority. The work at the project benefits not only residents in the complex but nearby residents and the local economy as well, said Councilwoman Ramona Smith. “It’s a stepping stone for a lot of residents,” she said. “Many, not all of them will, but some will go on to use this leg up to become homeowners someday.” Smith, D-4, has represented the area for the past eight years. Bringing the project to fruition has been one of her major goals, she said." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2012.

Utica Observer-Dispatch
August 2012


Affordable Housing Units to be Built Following $7.95 Million Deal

"The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), Jonah Mandelbaum, and Occupations, Inc. announced today the closing of a $7.95 million loan to develop Sunrise Apartments, a 79-unit complex in the Scotchtown section of the Town of Wallkill.  The complex will house families and individuals with developmental and physical disabilities, and provide access to support and employment services at the adjacent headquarters of Occupations, Inc.

“With Sunrise Apartments, the Scotchtown community will soon have a sprawling new complex providing much needed affordable housing and supportive services to families and individuals with disabilities,” said Doug Olcott, Senior VP & Hudson Valley Regional Director. “We are excited to continue our successful working relationship with Jonah Mandelbaum and to work with Occupations, Inc. to help families with special needs in a location with access to immediate support and employment services that will foster independent, fulfilling lives.”

To support Sunrise Apartments, CPC will provide a $7.95 million first mortgage construction loan through its New York State Pension Fund to Mandelbaum and Occupations, Inc.; Orange County Trust and Walden Savings Bank are participating member banks. In addition, Raymond James Financial, Inc. will provide $13.2 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity allocated by New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). Additional funding sources for the apartments will be provided by the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMDRR), The Orange County Department of Social Services (DSS), Section 8, and private pay sources.

Sunrise Apartments will have 79 apartment units across two three-story buildings for individuals and families with developmental and physical disabilities. It will have 53 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom, and three three-bedroom apartments plus one two-bedroom superintendent’s apartment.  Amenities will include a community room, program space, laundry facilities, and on-site parking." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2011.

Hudson Valley Press Online
August 2012



Lafayette's Restoration a Triumph

"Layer upon layer of paint, including pink neon, had to be scraped off to uncover mahogany wainscoting. It took days of cleaning with Q-tips to reveal the pastoral scene in a blackened, late 19th century oil painting.

In the Crystal Ballroom, workers laid 50,000 tiles imported from Turkey to replicate the original floor. A coat of white paint was removed from six crystal chandeliers to make visible the brass base containing the hotel's moniker.

"Guys were in here for weeks and weeks, on their hands and knees, putting them in one at a time. They were ready to kill me," said Rocco Termini, the developer and a part owner.

It's been a slow, painstaking and — to hear early reviews — triumphant return for the new Hotel @ the Lafayette, a downtown landmark left for dead before being rescued by Termini and guided by Carmina Wood Morris, an architectural and engineering firm.

"This is an extraordinary restoration and renovation of a building that was on the brink," architectural historian Martin Wachadlo said. "It's one of Buffalo's great architectural treasures that has finally been rediscovered after languishing unknown and unappreciated for years."

The Hotel @ the Lafayette, with its melding of French Renaissance and later Arte Moderne styles, formally opens its doors May 29. Much still remains to be done. On a recent day, a worker in the Pan American Brewery and Dining Room chipped away at the concrete floor, slowly exposing the more-than-a-century-old red herringbone quarry tile underneath.

But even as the work continues, events are being rolled out, including the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society's 150th anniversary gala Thursday. Dozens of weddings are among some 200 events already scheduled, Termini said. Among the couples choosing the downtown landmark are James Schaller and Meghan Finamore of the Town of Tonawanda, who plan to tie the knot at the Lafayette in June 2013.

"We've been wanting something historic, and when we went into the Crystal Ballroom, I fell in love with it," Finamore said. "Every time I look at pictures, I fall in love with it again. It is absolutely beautiful."

"It is an amazing piece of history back in Buffalo," her fiance added.

The seven-story, brick and white terra-cotta building includes a 34-room boutique hotel, with each room containing a different wall-sized image from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo. There are 115 apartments, of which 95 already have been rented, Termini said.

The space also will house seven retail operations, with restaurants and full-service wedding planning, including a bakery, florist, wedding gown designer and bridal registry. Termini plans to add "historic-themed lighting around the building, and enhance the landscaping in Lafayette Square to serve as a backdrop for wedding pictures.

The $42 million project, made possible with historic tax credits, is already a "huge success" even before the building officially opens its doors, Termini said.

"People are coming here from the suburbs that haven't been downtown in five years, and they're amazed. They say no one will come downtown, but if you give them a great product, people are going to come. That's exactly what's happened here," he said.

The cost to restore the building was not for the faint of heart. It cost $3 million to remove the asbestos. Plaster work to repair water-damaged ceilings on the first floor added up to $2.5 million.

Restoring more than 100 stained- and leaded-glass windows was another $200,000. The floor with the Turkish tiles? $75,000. Restoring those chandeliers? $30,000.

It required considerable detective work to determine how the building looked back in 1904, when it was designed by Buffalo's Louise Blanchard Bethune, the country's first professional female architect, and through later changes.

The hotel doubled in size in 1912, the Grand Ballroom was added in 1917 and the tap room in 1926. An overhaul was done in the 1940s in the style of Arte Moderne.

Determining the building's look and design through those phases was a challenge for architects Jonathan H. Morris and Paul Lang, and the firm's interior designers, Lee Fustino and Pamela Timby.

However, the Carmina Wood Morris firm's experience in historic preservation helped, since it had been involved in renovation of the Corn Exchange Building, the Calumet building, Remington Lofts in North Tonawanda and the Webb Lofts, also developed by Termini.

Fustino said clues into the palette of colors were pursued at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. Documents, postcards and other historical materials helped.

Sometimes, an original or earlier color or material was inadvertently unmasked. In the hotel lobby, removing a chandelier for cleaning revealed plaster underneath painted a dramatic red. In the first-floor hallway, lime wash primer concealed intricate plasterwork bursting with golds, umbers, and blacks and reds.

Morris said his three-year involvement with the project was "by far the most challenging and satisfying" of his career. "I've put in a lot of time. My wife calls this my mistress. She's glad to have me back," he said." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal on this property in 2012.

The Buffalo News
May 2012


Building on a City's History


"Across from Philipse Manor Hall, a landmark from the city’s 17th-century Dutch settlement, a row of 19th century buildings will be restored against a backdrop of towering new construction, as public and private partners continue to add workforce housing in a delicate balance with historic preservation in downtown Yonkers.

L+M Development Partners Inc., a Larchmont-based developer of affordable housing, plans to create 10 loft-style apartments and more than 9,000 square feet of storefront retail space in five buildings at 44-50 Warburton Ave., an d54 Warburton Ave. Tenants at Warburton Lofts must show household income that does not exceed 80percent of the median income in Westchester County.

Construction on the $10 million Warburton Lofts project will take 12 to 15 months, Ron Moelis, L+M’s co-founder and CEO, said at a recent groundbreaking ceremony. 

Behind the row of gutted two-to four-story buildings, L+M and its local development partner, the nonprofit Greyston Foundation, expect this fall to complete 92 units of affordable rental housing in a 12-story tower at 49 N. Broadway. That project follows L+M’s completion last year of a $54.4 million affordable housing project at 330 Riverdale, a 137-unit apartment building on the city’s southwest site.

The Larchmont developer in December paid $1.3 million to acquire the Warburton Avenue assemblage from Greyston. Greyston’s initial plans to raze the buildings and erect a mid-rise apartment tower were thwarted when a group of local residents in 2008 gained City Council support for the creation of a 13-building Philipse Manor Historic District across from the state-operated landmark. One of the properties to be renovated, 50 Warburton Ave., was designed by Edwin A. Quick, the architect of Yonkers City Hall and 25 other buildings in the city.

The restoration project’s design team includes Stephen Tilly, Architect, of Dobbs Ferry, and Old Structures Engineering of New York City. The development will be backed by $3.4 million in private financing, including $1.8 million from L+M Development Partners.

The Empire State Development Corp. awarded the city $3.5 million in Restore NY funding for the Philipse Manor district, $2.9 million of which city officials have allocated to the Warburton Lofts development. The city, in its third affordable-housing partnership with L+M Development since 2008, also pumped $1 million of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds into the mixed-use restoration.

The city also will provide Restore NY funds to assist adjacent private property owners in restoring 40 and 42 Warburton Ave.

The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency approved exemptions on mortgage recording, sales and use taxes, and a structured property tax agreement for the Warburton Lofts developer.

Citi Community Capital is a $2.7 million equity investor in Warburton Lofts through the U.S. Treasury Department’s New Markets Tax Credit program, which provides a 39 percent credit on investments in low-income communities. City received its tax credit program allocation from Greenline Ventures L.L.C., a minority-owned finance company based in Denver that specializes in community development projects.

Kermit Billups, executive vice president of Greenline Ventures, called his company’s new working partners at L+M “a very visionary team. Most developers know their projects. Very few know their communities like L+M.”

“Fifty years from now, I hope we can all come back and see the product of our investment,” Billups said.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who also serves as a chairman of the city’s IDA, called the project “a wonderful opportunity to turn buildings that have been symbols of urban decay into vibrant active spaces, creating quality affordable housing for Yonkers families and viable retail opportunities for small businesses.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2011.

Westchester County Business Journal
March 2012


TLC for a Grande Dame - The Hotel Lafayette

"In less than four months, developer Rocco R. Termini expects a restored and renovated Hotel Lafayette to be fully operating.

Into its seventh month, the $42 million project at the historic downtown structure -- turning the building into, among other things, a "one-stop shop" for weddings -- is about 60 percent complete.

"It's moving along," Termini said. "It's never moving along fast enough, but we're moving in the right direction." Termini is targeting May 1 as the day everything -- from the banquet facility and apartments to the boutique hotel, restaurant and retail shops -- will open.

Andrews Jewelers is the latest to sign on as a tenant.

Amid the grinding hum of saws and drills, and workers whisking wheelbarrows full of concrete into elevator cars, Termini guided some city lawmakers on a tour of the structure. Every day, about 220 construction workers are on the job at the building, located at 391 Washington St. on Lafayette Square.

Built in 1904, additions were made to the building in 1920, and much of the building was remodeled from a French Renaissance style into an art deco style in 1940, Termini said. Much of the work has involved peeling back layers to get down to what was there originally. And it's meticulous work. In one section of the building, it took two months to strip the paint down.

In the Crystal Ballroom, 1-inch-square pieces of tile flooring, imported from Turkey, are being pieced together one by one. It took three months to restore the original chandeliers in that room.

A finish made to look like marble -- called scagliola -- is being applied at one end of a first-floor hallway once known as Peacock Alley. The water damage to all of the ceilings in the building didn't help, either. "Restoration takes a long time," he said. "It's not something that gets done quickly."

Parts of the building are being restored to what they were in 1904, while others will remain in their art deco style, as requested by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Termini said.

The project has received state and federal historic tax credits, sales and mortgage tax relief from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and an $850,000 loan from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. Without the tax credits, the level of detail being adhered to in the project would not have been possible, Termini said.

In the end, there will be 25,000 square feet of banquet space, 34 hotel rooms on the second floor and 115 one- and two-bedroom apartments on the upper floors of the seven-story structure. The landmark building still bears all the marks of a construction site.

Materials from drywall to piping to blue-lidded buckets of joint compound sit stacked on the first floor, as a chain-link fence sets a perimeter along much of the street. Yellow electrical cords are strung from the ceiling, sometimes connected to light bulbs giving off yellowish light.

The soon-to-reopen Lafayette Tap Room -- to be run by Earl Ketry, who runs the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery -- is where the plaster casts are made. The other commercial tenants slated to come aboard include Michael A's Steakhouse, Butterwoods Bakery, Woyshner's Floral Shop and Get Dressed men's store.

Common Council President Richard A. Fontana, one of four lawmakers who toured the site, called the work inside "impressive." Council Member Darius G. Pridgen, whose Ellicott District includes the Hotel Lafayette, snapped photographs.

An L-shaped public alley, which sits between two parking lots between the Hotel Lafayette and Jake Schneider's adjacent Warehouse Lofts, at 210 Ellicott St., has been in dispute.

Termini, who finalized the purchase of the former 367-room hotel last May, says he needs access to the alley in order to build multilevel patios that would be attached to the banquet space. The patios will be "just like you see at the Pearl Street Brewery," he said.

Schneider and Termini, who were once in negotiations to resolve the matter, have appeared before the city Planning Board.

City lawmakers are expected to consider a proposal to sell Termini the city-owned alley, even though Termini said that all he originally asked for was an easement. Pridgen suggested that the alley be split, with Schneider being offered a section closest to his property.

Termini said the matter can't go before the Council until the city's Appraisal Review Board checks out the results of his property's appraisal. "We need to get this done," Termini told lawmakers. Fontana said he will reach out to Mayor Byron W. Brown's administration on the issue." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal on this property in 2011.

The Buffalo News
January 2012


Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy Vows State Commitment to Housing at Watertown's Beaver Meadow Apartments Groundbreaking

"The groundbreaking ceremony for an apartment project gave state and local government officials the opportunity to show their commitment to Fort Drum and to filling the need for housing.

“This will create great safe, affordable housing for soldiers, their families and the residents of the community,” Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy said at the ceremony for Beaver Meadow Apartments, a 296-unit project that soon will begin construction. “This will also create jobs, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Beaver Meadow will be built by COR Development Co., Fayetteville, on property south of Target in the Towne Center plaza. The project includes 60 units that will be supported by $2.4 million in tax credits for low- and moderate-income units through the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal. That award and $4 million to the Community Rental Housing Program were announced Dec. 8 as part of the regional economic development council awards.

The committee gave almost $7 million in awards to COR and the 394-unit Morgan Townhouses proposed by developer Morgan Management, Pittsford. The first $7 million came from the Development Authority of the North Country, Jefferson County and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division, told Mr. Duffy that the financial commitment from the state was emblematic of the support of the region and state for his soldiers.

“Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division are of strategic importance to the entire nation,” Gen. Milley said. “From the very beginning, the people of New York and the people of Northern New York have been tremendously supportive of the U.S. Army, the people’s Army.”

DANC CEO James W. Wright compared the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to that of his father, Mario M. Cuomo, who gave the fledgling DANC more than $12 million to address a housing shortage about 25 years ago, when he was governor.

“Once again, the message was clear and direct — find the resources, it’s a priority and get it done,” Mr. Wright said. “Once again, Governor Andrew Cuomo proved his commitment. He listened to our concerns, listened to the concerns of the region and committed resources to conclude the mission.”

Gov. Cuomo was showered with praise by area representatives. “He has shown that he is a true friend of the north country,” said state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton. “I have talked with him and his staff numerous times and I thank him for his leadership and vision to restore confidence in New York state government.”

Sen. Ritchie gave Gen. Milley a New York Yankees baseball cap, saying Gen. Milley, a Boston Red Sox fan, should start cheering for a New York team.

Gen. Milley quipped that Upstate New York was once part of Massachusetts. “It is very important to our soldiers and their families that they have adequate housing,” Gen. Milley said. “We’re not there yet, but this is certainly a big step forward and I certainly appreciate it.”

Regional leaders are striving to build 1,035 units for soldiers returning to Fort Drum from deployments in Afghanistan. The vacancy rate has fallen to near zero for the last few months, which puts pressure on the military and civilian populations.

“This is another step in solving the housing shortage,” said Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River. “We’re pleased the governor realized the urgency of the project for both the quality of life of our soldiers and local economy.”

From Washington, D.C., Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, also praised the projects’ state and local backing. “It’s very important because these wouldn’t be built, and this has a direct impact on the community’s ability to sustain Fort Drum,” Rep. Owens said. “Gen. Milley was very happy with the groundbreaking; he was very happy with the fact that the state and community are joining with Fort Drum to make sure there’s enough housing for the troops at Fort Drum.”

Mr. Owens announced other funding for Fort Drum infrastructure included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed Wednesday night.

COR President Steven F. Aiello said the Beaver Meadow work will begin within a month after the developer receives the final permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“This is outstanding because of the great collaboration between government officials, a private developer and the community in general to fulfill the need on residential housing,” Mr. Aiello said. “We had been approached by some of the local officials to build housing, but the financial conditions were not conducive to development. But everyone has gotten together and pulled together to make it work. We couldn’t have gotten the project started without all that support.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. recently completed a market study on this project.

Watertown Daily Times
December 2011


WNY Wins on State Development

"Ninety-six projects in Western New York will get state government cash or tax breaks after the region was selected Thursday, along with three other areas, in a new competitive program for economic development.

Officials picked through hundreds of funding applications and approved $100.3 million for the state's five westernmost counties for projects stretching from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which is getting nearly 10 percent of the money destined for the area, to a high-temperature lab at Alfred University.

Liberty Affordable Housing, which runs the Maryner Towers apartment complex on Buffalo's Lower West Side, fared best in the region in its request for Excelsior tax credits. It will get $15.5 million in aid to rehabilitate 206 units in its four eight-story buildings.

In a choreographed awards ceremony -- including films, logos, speeches and a CNBC host -- at a state theater near the Capitol in Albany, business, government and community leaders from across the state came to hear if their region would be one of four chosen to share $160 million in cash and tax breaks for projects back home.

Although Western New York and three others were picked for the "best plan" awards, all regions went home with some cash. At $103.7 million, the Central New York council will receive the most in cash and tax credits, followed by the North Country at $103.2 million and Long Island at $101.6 million. Western New York placed fourth in funding. The other six regions not selected still were given a total of $374.3 million, or an average of more than $62 million.

In all, 720 projects statewide were funded, totaling $785.5 million. The money came from two separate pots: a $200 million competitive bid process and the remainder from nine different agencies for everything, in the case of Western New York, from energy conservation work to home repairs for elderly residents to even hospital training of lactation specialists. The region will get $60 million of the agency funding.

The funding was approved in this year's state budget and was meant as a new, regional-based approach to job creation by taking input from local stakeholders. "There is no single New York State economy," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told the groups Thursday.

"We couldn't be happier," said Buffalo developer Howard A. Zemsky, co-chairman -- with University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi -- of the Western New York Regional Development Council, which is made up of various interests from the local counties with the responsibility of devising a job-creation plan that was heavy on better tying corporate and university interests to help train a future work force.

Zemsky said the process brought together "a lot of people who hadn't been sitting around the table" to present a cohesive plan for the region. "We got the whole Western New York region working together," Tripathi said.

Cuomo agreed. "There's more energy coming out of that council than I have seen in years, more unanimity in that council," he said in an interview. "You know, Western New York, they have been at odds for years. You couldn't get people working together."

Officials with the local group said the competitive process was a benefit. "It was really good for us to think about what's good in Western New York and try to present that in the best form that we can. So the competitive process got us all excited and all competitive so we can win the award," Tripathi said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the new program is meant to replace a top-down approach to the state's economic-development efforts that "no longer makes sense."

Cuomo said he, Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, agreed during a backstage chat before the event -- in a slight location change for Albany's usual "three men in a room" -- to fund the program again next year. Silver said that would make it possible for regions that did not win the top awards Thursday to be "winners of the future."

In local funding, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus emerged as one of the big winners in the competition, corralling nearly $10 million -- almost 10 percent of Western New York's allocation.

Recipients of funding include:

* The Roswell Park Cancer Institute genome project, which was awarded $5.1 million for its plan to study individual genetic sequences in an effort to develop a more robust approach to personalized medicine. It had sought $8 million in funding for the $18 million project.

In addition, the Jacobs Institute's Center for Innovation in Medicine was awarded $4 million -- slightly more than a third of the $11 million that it requested -- for its $60 million project to build a medical device prototyping center on the Medical Campus.

Also, the Hauptman-Woodward Crystallization Laboratory's $2.6 million expansion was given $500,000.

* Alfred University, which got $2.8 million to buy equipment and renovate its High-Temperature Materials Characterization Laboratory. The university had sought $6.5 million for the $16.2 million project.

* Streetscape and infrastructure projects for Buffalo and Olean, which were awarded $6 million. Council officials consider these part of a "smart growth" strategy that would reduce sprawl by making improvements in central business districts.

* A project to return vehicular traffic to Main Street in downtown Buffalo, as well as making streetscape improvements and enhancing transportation options between the Genesee Gateway, Main Street and the Medical Campus, which received $4 million. The council had sought $8 million for the $23.4 million project.

* Conversion of the former Rainbow Centre mall in Niagara Falls into a Niagara County Community College facility to train students in the culinary, hospitality and leisure field, which was granted $2 million toward the $2.5 million project.

* Buffalo Niagara International Airport, which was approved for $6.8 million to expand parking by 1,000 spaces, and Niagara Falls International Airport, which will get $970,000 for completion of its master plan.

* A worker training initiative that would build an Urban Automotive Center of Excellence in the Fruit Belt to train students in automotive repair, which will get all of the $2 million that it requested. The $10 million center is a partnership among Erie Community College, General Motors and the Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers Association.

* The John R. Oishei Foundation, which will receive $800,000 to help the Buffalo Arts and Technology Center expand training and education programs for workers in the health care industry and also provide after-school arts and technology programs for at-risk teenagers. The center had sought $1 million in funding for the $5.6 million project.

Shut out of the funding was the Niagara Experience Center, the long-discussed museum and visitors center in Niagara Falls that had sought $5 million.

Among private-sector initiatives that were seeking Excelsior tax credits:

* Calspan Corp. was granted $1.3 million in tax credits for a $44 million project to build a new facility at its Cheektowaga plant that would test automotive collision-avoidance features. The award was just a fraction of the $12 million in aid that it sought.

* Ascion, a manufacturer of adjustable beds, received $500,000 in tax credits for its $7 million project to construct a new building at its Silver Creek complex.

* American Heritage Homes was granted $2.5 million in low-cost financing to help the modular home manufacturer build a new factory in the Lakeside Commerce Park in Buffalo.

The Western New York council submitted to the state a wish list of 20 projects with a total price tag of $74 million -- nearly double the $40 million available to the winning bidders in the $200 million program.

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo announced the grants.

The state has tried many approaches to economic development over the years, leading to claims of geographic favoritism by communities cut out of funding." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. recently completed market studies on the Maynard Towers, Dunkirk and Riverside Special Needs projects.

The Buffalo News
December 2011


North Salem Considers Affordable Development That Would Fit Westchester Housing Settlement

"The builder of the just-completed Mews at Baldwin Place in Somers, an affordable senior development, hopes to build a community of apartments and townhouses in Purdys for seniors and families that would help meet the quota for Westchester's fair housing settlement.

Kearney Realty Group in Carmel has approached North Salem with plans for 84 one-bedroom apartments for seniors 62 and older, and 18 townhouses — 12 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom apartments — for families. "I call it intergenerational," said Ken Kearney of Kearney Realty Group.

The 28-acre property, off Route 22 and next to a nursing home, has an unusual combination of advantages for an affordable-housing developer. It is zoned senior citizen multifamily, so no zoning change is needed; it has sewer service because of a plant at the adjoining nursing home, Salem Hills, and it has town water. "The challenge we have in northern Westchester (to building affordable housing) is, 'Do you have the infrastructure?' " Kearney said.

Kearney said he has spoken to county officials about the project and hopes to use some of the available funding. Westchester settled a lawsuit in 2009 with the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development requiring the county to spend more than $50 million in the construction of 750 units of affordable housing in mostly white communities. North Salem is 7.5 percent Hispanic and 1.2 percent black, according to the 2010 census.

The new units would be limited to households bringing in 60 percent of annual area median income or less. For 2011, a one-person household could make $44,760 a year while a four-person household could make $63,900.

Affordable units also are expected to be built in North Salem at a Wilder Balter Partners development on June Road called Salem Hunt that is nearing the end of the town approval process.

North Salem rezoned several properties for multifamily housing years ago to comply with the decision in its own affordable-housing lawsuit, Continental Building Co. vs. the Town of North Salem. Kearney has offered to build a 3,000-square-foot community center at its development.

North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas said the proposal looks promising. The development would have to go through the town approval process, including an environmental review. "The entire board is actually pretty comfortable with it," he said of the Town Board." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. recently completed a market analysis and land valuation of this project.

Lo Hud
November 2011


Fabled Stable Being Reborn as Housing

"It started as a livery and horse stable in the late 1800s. At one point, it also served as a storage building for cars. And it even was a gas station once.

But on Monday, the White Bros. Livery & Boarding Stable at 429 Jersey St. was on its way to becoming affordable apartments. Neighbors, developers, engineers and elected officials gathered at the West Side site to break ground for the White’s Livery Apartments project designed to convert the vacant historic building into 14 units of affordable housing for people at or below the community’s median income. Twelve of the apartments will be one-bedroom units; the others will have two bedrooms each.
Construction is expected to be completed by September 2012, said developer Sam Savarino, who purchased the building and came up with a $3.3 million plan to save it from demolition more than three years ago.
A former owner had allowed the landmark to deteriorate. Bricks started falling off, and one of the walls buckled in the summer of 2008, forcing the evacuation of nearby neighbors due to fears that the entire structure would cave. Jersey Street was closed to traffic as remaining exterior walls were braced and stabilized.
Since 2004, Catherine Herrick has lived on Summer Street at the rear of the building and is one of the neighbors who worked to stop the emergency demolition ordered by the city. The community objected to having it torn down and left as a vacant lot.
Herrick said she’s happy the building will be put to use but wishes something would have been done before it fell into such disrepair. “I’m glad to see something happen. My feeling is that six, eight years ago, the owner of the building was irresponsible, and the people who are in charge of holding him accountable” never did, Herrick said as she watched Monday’s ceremony. “. . . By the time a major piece broke off the building, not much was left of it.”
“Demolition had begun, and a lot [of the structure] was pulled down before” the process was halted, she said.  Nevertheless, Herrick and other neighbors are looking forward to the latest incarnation of the livery stable.
“The wall is still standing, and the building will have the same footprint. It looks like it will be a great building and a great addition to the community,” she said.  Plans call for the first floor to provide indoor parking, while the second and third floors will include the 14 apartments.
Developers will keep the original brick front and back walls of the stable, along with its three-story elevator tower, to be incorporated into a newly constructed main building. The facade was intact above the second floor and includes the original White Bros. sign and horse head emblems. The third-floor facade will be rebuilt to mimic its original arched windows and twin peaked towers.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal provided about $2 million to the construction project. The City of Buffalo spent $574,000 to stabilize the building after sections began to crumble in 2008 and committed an additional $1.1 million for development. And the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York made $239,000 available, Savarino said. The project also received bridge financing from Five Star Bank until some of the pledged funds come through. The business, founded by Albert and Elijah White, got its start in 1881 on nearby 13th Street and relocated to Jersey Street in 1892.
The stable, located just off Richmond Avenue, was considered one of Buffalo’s finest livery establishments and in its heyday sheltered about 35 horses and an assortment of stylish coaches.
Mayor Byron W. Brown, Niagara District Common Council Member David A. Rivera, State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy and Linda Chiarenza, executive director of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services, were among the officials who attended the groundbreaking." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. recently completed an appraisal of this project.
The Buffalo News
October 2011

North Tonawanda Turning the Corner

Jason Cox grew up along the Erie Canal at a time when the Remington Rand factory stood as a shuttered testament to an earlier heyday in his city. From where he stands now, in one of the first new apartments in the revamped complex, there's a sense that his hometown is turning a corner, thanks in part to its past and in larger part to a Manhattan developer who already has made his mark on the Buffalo real estate market.

Tony Kissling has looked to the Rand site for his first project in Western New York outside Buffalo, and his $28 million project has made quite an impression on Cox and others.

The Remington Lofts on the Canal include 81 loft apartments, a roof garden with Wi-Fi, a yoga center, a salon and school for hair stylists, and the Remington Tavern -- a new restaurant and oyster bar in the works that will be run by the chefs of two of Buffalo's top restaurants, Tempo and Hutch's. "I don't remember any activity [at the site] all through my childhood," said Cox, a 38-year-old Proctor & Gamble sales director for pet food. "Everything's starting to improve."

Flats in the Lofts, on Sweeney Street, rent for $1,200 to $1,500 a month, and feature big windows, 14-foot ceilings and stainless steel appliances. "It's real New York City-style lofts," said Kissling. "We just can't finish them fast enough."

Cox is among those hooked. His guitars lean against a wall by windows with a wide view of the Erie Canal and, on the horizon, the railroad bridge he jumped from as a kid. It takes him just a few minutes to walk to the nearby Webster Street commercial strip, where he can take his children for ice cream, go for a drink or shop.

"I think it's going to turn the whole town around. ... I think we'll tap into all the suburbs of Buffalo, Niagara Falls," said Kissling. "I think this is going to give the whole city a shot in the arm."

To Kissling, this city of about 31,000 has the same promising waterfront ingredient that attracted him and his Manhattan-based real estate company to Buffalo in 1999. He was drawn to the Queen City by its lakeside location, its historic architecture, its street grid.

Coordinated effort

Eight years ago, with the run-down North Tonawanda factory for sale, Kissling considered the rows of windows, the view, the spacious floor plan, the nearby business district, and he started to put together a deal.

The 176,000-square-foot project is named for the last big corporate resident of the factory complex: Remington Rand, a company that made office filing systems, typewriters and an early computer. It had one of its factories in the four-story building that stretches along Sweeney.

The factory was built in about 1900 by a company that made airplane engines during World War I. For a time, it was known as Herschell Spillman, and carousels were built here. Remington Rand moved in about 1925, City Historian Peter Trinkwalder said.

When Kissling bought the place in 2007, it was being partly used by an assortment of businesses and small manufacturers. His Lofts plan came together gradually, with help from the North Tonawanda Lumber City Development Corp.

The city's economic development agency coordinated $1.75 million in grants that went toward the $28 million conversion. Another $200,000 went to two of the ground-floor tenants as 3 percent loans. About half that sum turns into grants if the Leon Studio One beauty school and Evolation Yoga hire 37 workers between them as projected in the first three years.

Perfect complement

Remington Tavern, an "upscale casual" restaurant and seafood-and-oyster bar, received approximately $250,000 in grants and low-interest loans from Lumber City, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency and Kissling.

The restaurant, estimated to cost about $1.3 million, will include almost 10,000 square feet, a waterfront terrace and 45 to 60 employees. It is expected to open by November, with part of it ready in time for the Oct. 19-22 National Preservation Conference in Buffalo.

Chefs Paul Jenkins of Tempo and Mark Hutchinson of Hutch's are parters. Jenkins said the menu will have a creative range, with Mexican shrimp cocktail, East Coast raw oysters and New Orleans-style "po-boy" sandwiches.

"We've hired a chef. He's a rock star," Jenkins said of Jeff Kolbas, a Western New York native who left a job at a Tampa lobster and seafood restaurant. He has been working at Tempo and fine-tuning the new menu in preparation for the fall opening.

'Next best location'

The Remington Tavern juts out from the main factory complex and has a carved stone reference to its origins: "Power House. Buffalo & Niagara Falls Electric Railway. 1895."

After giving a tour of the gutted building, Jenkins sat outside talking. He paused to appreciate what is becoming a familiar sound: a passing train, which he has noticed going by about 3:20 p.m. most days. He called it "super sexy." "I like it. I just like the vibe," he said. "It's industrial."

He hadn't considered North Tonawanda until he was persuaded by Kissling, whom he met at a golf tournament several years ago. "I guarantee it'll be the next best location," Jenkins said. "Come by boat. Come by bike. Come on foot."

The Lofts' main floor tenants come from Erie County. They say their new spaces in Niagara County provide an opportunity they couldn't get in Buffalo: access to new clients.

"We can now reach out to all of Niagara County," said Leon Tringali, owner of Leon Studio One, who already has one beauty school on Main Street in Williamsville. The Lofts' expansive windowed spaces and canal frontage led him to open a second location here.

"That's the only reason I want to be in North Tonawanda -- because of this building," said Tringali, whose forearm is tattooed with the scissors, comb and razor tools of his trade.

Like Tringali and Jenkins, Mark Drost decided to set up headquarters and new studios here for his Evolation Yoga, in part because of the beauty and flexibility of the Lofts space.

A new hot spot

His company, named for a mix of evolution and elation, specializes in yoga classes of varying intensities. With studios in Costa Rica, Florida, Brooklyn and Buffalo, and a website listing more coming soon to places from Australia to Miami, Drost wanted room to create a head office and space to offer more services.

At the Lofts, he has about 7,000 square feet, two studios, rooms for "treatments" including massage. Another entrepreneur, Meghan Bromley, opened Liquid Energy Juice Bar Cafe across from the yoga reception desk.

"At first I thought, 'North Tonawanda? Why would I put a studio there?' But I really like it here," said Drost, a Hamburg native. "This is going to be something else. This is going to be a place where people come from all over Western New York." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal on this project.

The Buffalo News
August 2011


Developer Releases Plans to Build Housing Complex Near SUNY Potsdam

"The construction of a student-housing project near the campus of SUNY Potsdam could begin as early as the spring, according to the developer. Chason Affinity Cos., Buffalo, has announced plans to build dozens of small, cottage-style rental properties on the village’s Main Street.

When completed, the complex could house up to 300 students, the developer said, but a portion of the complex could be ready for occupancy by next school year. “The school was excited about additional housing, and a market study made it look like it would work,” Chason Affinity CEO P. Jeffrey Birtch said.

According to sketches of the development project, Chason Affinity plans to build roughly 50 units on a 20-acre lot across from the SUNY Potsdam running track and tennis courts.

The developer, which also owns the Lawrence Avenue Apartment Complex in Potsdam, said each of the buildings will house four to six students. Sketches show two separate groups of buildings, each in a circular pattern with a community building sitting along Main Street.

Each resident will have his or her own private bathroom and parking space, along with Internet and cable television access, according to Mr. Birtch. The complex also will feature a quirk geared toward music students: Along with a common room and kitchen, the community building will house several practice rooms for music.

“SUNY Potsdam has a world-renowned music program,” Mr. Birtch said. “We thought, why not offer a facility within the project that could be used by music students?”

The entire project could take up to two years to complete, Mr. Birtch said, but when finished will provide students with a quality housing option for a price similar to what they pay for on-campus town homes — $500 to $600 monthly. “Most of the kids who live on campus are underclassman,” Mr. Birtch said. “A large number of upperclassman migrate off campus, and a lot of the housing options are not quite as attractive as what we will have here.”

William G. Morris, SUNY Potsdam’s dean of students, said the college, along with village landlords, has been able to provide adequate housing for students. But, he said, there are some landlords who aren’t as responsible as others. “If good housing can chase out the bad housing, I’m all for it,” Mr. Morris said.

While the projected value of the complex has not been established, village Trustee Steven W. Yurgartis estimated it could be “several million dollars” and bring substantial new tax revenue to the community. “This project is expanding our tax base, which is always welcome, and I think it will provide needed rental housing, particularly for our increasing student population,” Mr. Yurgartis said.

Village leaders hinted at the plan earlier this year, but didn’t release the details of the operation. But officials insist the announcement will have no effect on discussions to build a 192-unit apartment complex proposed by the town. The town’s plan is targeted toward professionals and retirees, not students, making the projects able to coincide, officials said. “I don’t think this project affects the other proposed project at all, at least from a local government point of view,” Mr. Yurgartis said." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. recently completed a market study of this project.

Watertown Daily Times
November 2011



ECC Student Housing Project Approved

"The first major student housing development devoted to Erie Community College students got the green light to proceed Monday from the Amherst Town Board. Coupled with other major developments on and around the North Campus, ECC is positioning itself as a bigger player on the Amherst college scene.

Zaepfel Development intends to open an $18 million, three-story student housing complex on Youngs Road across the street from ECC North next year. The 115- unit, private development with roughly 400 beds would be the first dedicated to serving ECC North, which is the busiest of the college’s three campuses.

“The student housing fits in very nicely with a rejuvenation of the North Campus,” said Supervisor Barry Weinstein, referring to controversial plans for a new $30 million academic building and the new YMCA building going up adjacent to the North Campus.

The Town Board voted 5-1 to lift certain rezoning conditions that would have impeded the developer’s plans to build the three-story complex. The 10-acre parcel at 205 Young Road was once part of a larger parcel that was rezoned in 1985 as multifamily residential housing back when the developer had plans to put lower-density condominiums on the site.

At the time, the developer agreed to a two-story building limit. But lawyers from the Damon Morey law firm representing Zaepfel Development said that by allowing the developer to build a three-story project, the residents living in single-family homes on Lyndhurst Road would be afforded a greater buffer area of green space.

A number of Lyndhurst residents, whose homes would border the property on the north side, expressed concern about the high-density nature of the development, but withdrew their protests after meeting with the developer and town officials and extracting a promise to give residents a bigger buffer from the student housing building and its expansive parking lot.

Lyndhurst resident Vance Conway, a former critic of the project, told the board on Monday that while residents are “still not terribly pleased” about the Zaepfel project, “we have come to an amicable agreement with the developer.”

Jeffery Palumbo, the lawyer representing Zaepfel, said the developer has increased the green buffer area from 56 feet to 77 feet, including a 6-to-8 foot high berm, landscaping and a split-rail fence to better obscure the project from homeowners’ properties.

Council Member Guy Marlette said he appreciated the spirit of compromise shown by all parties, even though he ultimately voted against the final board resolution because he opposes the idea of private, off-campus student housing. The project site plan must still be vetted and approved by the town’s Planning Board.

John Ball, president of RE Silverstone Partners, a student housing consulting and management firm, stated at a prior Town Board meeting that a majority of the students who attend Niagara County Community College and other community colleges in the region hail from Erie County.

But they don’t attend ECC because ECC doesn’t offer the same kind of dedicated student housing that other community college campuses do. If this Zaepfel Development project moves forward, Ball said, more of these students would return to Erie County.

He also said market studies have shown that if this student housing is constructed and opened by fall 2012, as planned, it will quickly reach full occupancy and have a waiting list.

Weinstein had previously stated that he wanted the developer to promise not to seek public tax breaks for his development, a promise that Zaepfel Development was unwilling to make.

While the developer did not budge on that request, representatives did reach agreement with town officials regarding new conditions that would:

• Strengthen the project’s “zero tolerance policy” regarding alcohol and drugs on site, through an official agreement with the town.

• Allow ECC’s own security to enter the private housing development to address any safety emergencies.

• Create a student housing security plan that would require approval from both the supervisor and the Amherst police chief, and limit town liability if a town police officer is injured while doing security work for the student housing project.

Weinstein said he will continue to vocally oppose any tax breaks for the project. Aside from that, he said, he’s happy to see ECC North’s growth, despite opposition from some elected officials who have long advocated for the consolidation of ECC’s three campuses downtown." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. recently completed a market study on this project.

The Buffalo News
August 2011

ECC Housing Complex Has Resistance
"A much touted proposal to build an $18 million, three-story student housing complex on Youngs Road across the street from Erie Community College North Campus met with resistance from neighbors and hesitant interest from several Amherst board members.
The proposed 115-unit student housing project with roughly 400 beds would be the first dedicated to serving students at ECC North, which has the busiest campus of the college’s three locations.
The 10-acre parcel at 205 Youngs Road was once part of a larger parcel that was rezoned in 1985 as multifamily residential housing back when the developer had plans to put a lower-density condominium development on the site.
At the time, the developer agreed to a two-story building limit. But lawyers from the Damon and Morey law firm representing Zaepfel Development, said that by allowing the developer to build a three-story project, the residents living in single-family homes on Lyndhurst Road would be afforded a greater buffer area of green space.
Nearly half a dozen Lyndhurst residents, whose homes would border the property on the north side, expressed concern about the high-density nature of the development.
“From our yards, it will occupy 70 degrees of our view,” said Lyndhurst resident Vance Conway. “This is essentially all I will see from my kitchen window. Of course, in the foreground, we get a lovely view of a nearly 300-space parking lot.”
Residents also questioned the developer’s assurances of ongoing maintenance, traffic, lighting, noise and safe pedestrian crossing, though lawyer Jeffrey Palumbo said many of these issues have been addressed in the site plan.
“The advantages to the development outweigh the disadvantages to the project,” he said.
John Ball, president of RE Silverstone Partners, a student housing consulting and management firm, stated that about 70 percent of the students who attend Niagara Community College and other community colleges in the region hail from Erie County.
But they don’t attend ECC because ECC doesn’t offer the same kind of dedicated student housing that other community college campuses do. If this Zaepfel Development project moves forward, Ball said, more of these students would return to Erie County.
Council Member Mark Manna supported the project, pointing out that the board is not being asked to rezone the parcel to multifamily residential, but rather to waive the two-story zoning restriction.
“The Town Board denying [the lifting of] these restrictions is not going to prevent something from being built there,” he said.
Supervisor Barry Weinstein said he wanted assurances that the developer would not seek public financing or tax breaks, but Palumbo said he could not make that promise." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project.
The Buffalo News
July 2011

Gracie's Village to be Redeveloped in Tempe

"A Wisconsin developer plans to take on the complete redevelopment of a 60-year-old storefront where Grace Community Church of the Valley current operates a thrift store.

Gracie's Village in Tempe is a public-private partnership between Gorman & Co. and Grace Community Church. Also involved are the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Arizona Department of Housing and the city of Tempe.

The nearly 100,000-square foot project, scheduled to break ground in March 2012, will include a mix of ground-floor community facilities and a new thrift store, plus 74 units of affordable housing on five floors above the shop.

Located along the Metro light rail line at 1520 E. Apache Blvd., the new building will be solar-powered. The developer is seeking certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program based on its use of green building technologies.

The mix of 672- to 1,064-square foot units will rent for $397 to $611 a month. The project architect is RNL of Phoenix.

In addition to the thrift store and apartments, there is a community room, medical clinic, cafe, playground and picnic area. The new community is expected to open in March 2013." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project in 2011.

Phoenix Business Journal
June 2011


Bethune Lofts Project Moves Forward as $1.05 Million Purchase is Completed

"Plans for loft apartments next to Bennett High School have taken a step forward with the purchase of the former Buffalo Meter Co. building by 2915 Main Street LLC, an affiliate of Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.

The vacant building at 2915 Main in the University District was bought for $1.05 million, according to documents from the Erie County Clerk’s Office.

Plans call for a $12.5 million renovation of the six-story building into 87 apartments known as Bethune Lofts, named for Louise Blanchard Bethune, a Buffalonian from the 19th and early 20th centuries considered the first woman in the nation to become a professional architect. The fourth and fifth floors will be two-story lofts, and the sixth floor will have a penthouse, said Anne E. Duggan, Ciminelli director of marketing and public relations.

Lofts will have one or two bedrooms and “many different configurations, based on the unique components of the building,” Duggan said.

The original estimate for renovations was $8.5 million. “There were unique components of the building that allowed us to do more creative design work,” Duggan said. “We hadn’t even gotten into the specifics of design when the initial cost was published.”

The building was constructed in 1915 and was known as Bethune Hall in in the 1970s, when it housed the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Design. Because of its age and design, it qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places, said J. Timothy Vaeth, vice president of development for Ciminelli.

Because of the renovation’s green aspects, Vaeth said, Ciminelli will seek certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project.

The Buffalo News
June 2011


$20 Million Fund Established to Seed Projects Along Light Rail Line

"In the $6 billion worth of private development built along the Metro light rail line, you'd be hard pressed to find something as humble as a thrift store in the mostly swanky new buildings. But now a $20 million fund has been established as seed money for projects along the line, including more affordable developments for those priced out of high-rent projects.

The Sustainable Communities Development Fund will begin reviewing proposals this fall for projects that will bring more life along the $1.4 billion rail corridor. The goal is to further develop the transit corridor in part by boosting demographic diversity and to get lower-income residents by light rail so they have better access to employment.

The first project is on Tempe's Apache Boulevard at what is now Gracie's thrift store. Unlike any other light rail development that would get rid of a low-end use, Gracie's Village will have a space for the store to remain on Apache.

The store is owned by Grace Community Church of Tempe. It's keeping ownership of the two acres the tiny store sits on. A proposed six-story building would include a community center run by the church and 74 apartments for people who earn 40-60 percent of the county's household median income. Rents will range from about $400 to $800. The church couldn't have afforded this on its own, Gracie's manager Jeff Brosman said

"What we were looking for was a project that could not only maintain our store but also extend our ministries and include affordable housing," Brosman said. Gracie's mostly vacant 2-acre site with a 13,000 square-foot store would be replaced with a 99,000 square-foot building. Brosman said despite its affordability component, Gracie's Village will retain a high-end look and include environmental features equal to gold-level LEED certification.

The $19 million project will be developed by Wisconsin-based Gorman & Company, which specializes in redevelopment that includes an affordable housing component. Gorman will get tax credits for construction but no ongoing subsidy.

Tempe spent 30 years and millions of dollars on the blighted Apache Boulevard to encourage this kind of development but nothing came of it, Mayor Hugh Hallman said. Then light rail was built and it spurred $2 billion of investment along Apache. The $20 million fund can lure developments with amenities that will fully enliven the transit corridor, he said. "Young people have identified that urban environments are the places that they want to live," he said.

The fund includes $10 million each from the Local Initiatives Support Group and Raza Development Fund. They're working on a feasibility study for what kind of development is likely as well as guidelines for eligible projects.

That money is essential to projects like Gracie's Village because banks are much more eager to loan money for construction than they are for the early stages, said Brian Swanton, Gorman's Arizona market manager. "It's almost impossible to get predevelopment financing from lenders," Swanton said.

Developers like Gorman repay their loans back to the fund, which is reused on other projects. Swanton estimates the $20 million fund could eventually leverage $1 billion in development.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith expects new developments along the Metro line will show not just that light rail is about transit, but that it can create a sense of place. Smith, a former homebuilder, said projects built with the new fund will demonstrate the potential to build projects that go beyond existing ones that he considers "nice but not bold."

"We know that investment follows other investment," Smith said. "We're like sheep, and you've got to get that first investment started to get the second and the third and the fourth." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project.

East Valley Tribune
June 2011


Student Housing Proposed for ECC

"Erie Community College is catching up to the student housing boom, thanks to a second apartment project catering to its students -- this one in Amherst Zaepfel Development of Williamsville is proposing a 350-bed student housing project on Youngs Road, directly across the street from the North Campus. Developers hope to open by fall of 2012.

"It's still in the preliminary stages," said Jeffrey D. Palumbo, an attorney representing Zaepfel. "There are issues that have to be addressed, including conversations with the neighbors and modifications of some restrictions from the town." Company officials recently unveiled their plan to the college's board of trustees, which gave its support for the project.
"From my perspective, it's a perfect location," said ECC President Jack F. Quinn Jr., "and the renderings they showed us are just beautiful." Once considered a novelty, student housing has become almost a necessity for community colleges. "The community college life has changed in the last 20 years," Quinn said. "When community colleges first started, students came to class, they went to work, they went home. Now, students are looking for the total college experience," he said. "For many students, that means living away from home."
ECC is behind the curve. Nearly two dozen of the state's 30 community colleges already have student housing, Quinn said. Moreover, Quinn believes the absence of housing for ECC students in Amherst is one of the reasons why the college is losing students from Erie County to Niagara County Community College, which opened student housing in 2008.
What makes the Zaepfel project particularly appealing to ECC is it would fulfill the college's goal of offering housing for students at North -- the most populated of the college's three campuses -- without having to foot the bill. In fact, it would be the second privately funded student housing development catering to ECC students.
Downtown developer Jake Schneider last year opened 91 modern, loft-style dormitory apartments in the converted Alling & Cory warehouse at Elm and North Division streets, near the City Campus. There also have been preliminary talks with a developer about student housing on or near the South Campus, Quinn said.
A site plan for the Zaepfel project shows a three-story, F-shaped building located on 10 acres between Lyndhurst Road and College Parkway, with an entrance off Youngs Road. Units would be fully furnished and include common kitchen and living areas, one or two bathrooms and two to four bedrooms for a total of 350 to 400 beds. The student housing would include around-the-clock security, as well as resident assistants and live-in management. Plans show limited parking at the front of the building and next to Youngs Road, but there would be 295 spaces at the back of the site.
Condominiums were proposed for the locationyears ago, so the site is already properly zoned for student housing, Palumbo said. But the project still needs various approvals from Amherst's zoning, planning and town boards, Palumbo said. The town, for example, has a height restriction for building on the site, so developers want to modify that condition rather than make changes to the proposed three-story structure.
Zaepfel also wants to meet with neighbors on nearby Lyndhurst to address any concerns. A letter to the residents was supposed to go out in the mail this week, with a meeting set for June, Palumbo said. Groundbreaking would follow the approval process, which could take four to five months, Palumbo said. The Amherst Planning Department has not received plans yet, but officials said they have talked to the developers about the project. While the student housing would be a private venture, Zaepfel would work with ECC to advertise the apartments.
Quinn said he also spoke with company officials about linking the campus and student apartments with a pedestrian bridge over busy Youngs Road. Since ECC has no immediate plans to build its own student housing on the North Campus, the college's board of trustees has passed a resolution in support of the Zaepfel project., hoping it can boost enrollment. "This is what I believe is a perfect public-private partnership," Quinn said." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project.
The Buffalo News
May 2011



City Approves $800,000 Loan for Hotel Lafayette Project

"Plans to turn the empty Hotel Lafayette into a $40 million apartment complex and "one-stop" wedding destination took a big step forward Thursday when a city agency approved a loan.

The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency unanimously approved an $800,000 loan to help advance the project in the seven-story building on Washington Street south of Lafayette Square. But developer Rocco Termini disclosed that there has been a slight delay in construction. He originally had hoped to finish the main floor of the city landmark in time to showcase the structure when the National Trust for Historic Preservation holds an October convention in Buffalo.

Under the revised timeline, the project would be completed in about a year. Officials described the financing package as "revenue neutral" to the agency. That's because Termini's development companies are retiring some old debt on three earlier downtown projects. The prepayments then will be channeled to the Hotel Lafayette project as a loan.
Common Council President David A. Franczyk, a Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency board member, praised agency officials for pulling together a "creative" financing plan that advances an important development without increasing the agency's financial exposure.
Franczyk noted the structure's prominent past. The city landmark was designed by Louise Blanchard Bethune, the nation's first female professional architect. Termini said plans are moving forward to transform the once-opulent hotel into 67 one-bedroom units and 48 two-bedroom apartments. There also will be a 34-room boutique hotel and a number of businesses, including a Butterwood Desserts outlet and a tuxedo shop. And the Lafayette Tap Room will reopen, Termini said.
Carmina Wood Morris is the project's architect. There are some issues to finalize with the state, the developer said Thursday. But Termini said he expects crews to begin construction within two weeks." GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal on this project in 2010.
The Buffalo News
May 2011
Rooms with a View in Cohoes
"Two projects are bringing more than 260 apartments to the Cohoes waterfront -- and promising to boost the Spindle City's recent population growth. Both are under way along Delaware Avenue, a quiet and straight-as-an-arrow roadway that clings to the Van Schaick Island shoreline and leads to the scenic drama of Peebles Island State Park.
Waters View, as the larger of the two developments is called, is a long-planned complex that has taken more twists and turns than a Six Flags roller coaster. But developers broke ground on the $30 million, 222-unit complex last week and are expecting to have initial tenants moving in by the fall.
The second project is the ongoing conversion of an industrial building at 31 Ontario St. into 40 lofts. The $2 million plan is like a small version of The Lofts at Harmony Mills -- the North Mohawk Street development credited with helping to turn around decades of population decline in Cohoes. Indeed, the census says the city's population grew by 4.17 percent from 2000 to 2010 and stands at 16,168.
Edward Tremblay, director of community and economic development, said city officials once expected the 2010 census to show an even faster rate of growth. In 2007, after all, Cohoes was anticipating the imminent construction of as many as 600 condominium units.
Then, the economy collapsed and ... cue the crickets. Most condo construction, in Cohoes and elsewhere, was put on hold as construction financing evaporated. Waters View, where some units will look out over Peebles Island and a branch of the Mohawk, was among the stalled projects -- nothing new at a site where development has been planned for decades without success.
But Prime Cos., headquartered in Latham, was able to bring the project back as apartments, rather than condos. Company principle Dean DeVito said the firm never lost confidence in the strength of the site.
At Waters View, rents for the one-, two- and three-bedroom units will range from $1,175 to $1,800 -- monthly sums that, until recently, were unimaginable for an apartment in Cohoes.
At 31 Ontario, rents will fall between $800 to $1,500, said project designer Anthony D'Adamo, who owns Capital Architecture in Cohoes and was hired by the downstate investment group that owns the building. The loft conversion should end in the fall, while Waters View construction is expected to conclude late in 2012.
Together, the projects promise to further change the character of a Van Schaick waterfront that has already seen the arrival of the Riverwalk apartment complex, built in the late 1990s, or the Admiral's Walk condos, where construction continues.
Tremblay said city officials expect more change -- and are hoping for commercial development that will please the growing group of immigrants." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on the project.
Times Union
May 2011


Roundtop Development to Offer Affordable Housing in Montrose
"Bulldozers, dump trucks and excavators are knocking down trees, churning up soil and delivering heavy supplies to about 19 acres of land off of Route 9A in Montrose. If you live there, you have noticed. The construction of a four-building affordable housing development named Roundtop next to the VA Hospital began in mid-February and is expected to be complete by the end of 2012. The development will feature 92 one- and two-bedroom units (46 units of each size), offered only to households with incomes no higher than 60 percent of the area median household income.
The project by Wilder Balter Partners was first brought to the Town of Cortlandt Planning Board by a different owner in 1993. It helps fulfill part of Westchester County’s Affordable housing requirements, created by a settlement made with the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency following a 2006 lawsuit by the Anti-Discrimination Center, a New York City-based advocacy group. It is across the street from the Cortlandt Train Station, on a Bee-line bus route and within walking distance from (Hendrick Hudson) High School, said Bill Balter, co-manager of Wilder Balter Developers.
Balter, a well-known Westchester County developer who also built and owns the senior living community Woodcrest at Jacobs Hill development in Cortlandt, expects local residents to line up for the new apartments. Median household income was most recently calculated at $96,206 (sixty percent of that is $57,723). Rent at Roundtop will range between $975 for a one-bedroom and $1200 for a two-bedroom unit, respectively.
There will be two separate waiting lists, one for 83 apartments that the county approved for financing, and another for eight apartments approved by the Town of Cortlandt before the county got involved, which means that Cortlandt residents get preference for those eight units. Balter is building a similar project in Larchmont that offers units for sale, rather than for rent, to households whose income is no more than 80 percent of the area’s median.
Twenty towns and cities throughout Westchester are affected by the fair housing settlement, including Yorktown, Rye, Pleasantville, Dobbs Ferry and others. Roundtop was not always meant to be an affordable housing development. Plans to develop the land in Montrose first went to the town Planning Board in 1993 when Rocco Triglia owned the project, said Town Planning Director Chris Keyhoe. Triglia’s then five-building project was finally approved in 2008, but he never moved forward with construction.
In 2010 Balter found the development and went to the county for funding to make it an affordable housing project, helping to fulfill the settlement requirements. The county took ownership of the project, put the affordability restrictions on it and sold to Balter to develop. Before the HUD settlement, local municipalities had the power to decide if and where affordable housing would be built and located, but now localities have no say and the county’s decisions supersede any objections Cortlandt may have. Cortlandt offers affordable housing opportunities in its Jacobs Hill, Springvale and Amberlands apartment developments.  
The planning board was reviewing the project's environmental impact throughout the 1990s when Triglia owned the project. When the project was finally approved in 2008 the planning board did not require any traffic improvements. That approval carried over to Balter. While the 83 Roundtop units count towards the county’s proposed 750 units, there are still issues in the fair-housing case to be resolved.
HUD announced in December that it is still not satisfied with the county’s plans to fulfill the requirements of the settlement. The plan was submitted in July 2010 and was the county’s third attempt at satisfying the settlement requirements. The HUD appointed federal monitor overseeing the settlement, James E. Johnson, said the county's plan does not sufficiently recognize the barriers to fair housing and identify the specific actions the county will take to overcome them. HUD said the county needs help overcoming exclusionary zoning practices by some municipalities. Johnson has given Westchester County until April to submit a fourth attempt at a plan that the department finds acceptable." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.
Peekskill-Cortlandt Patch
March 2011



Yonkers IDA Backs Housing Project

"The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency recently smoothed the way for a 77-unit affordable-housing development that would replace blighted apartment buildings on Ravine Avenue near the city waterfront. The IDA board approved a financial incentives package for the developers of teh $25.6 million project, the Center for Urban Rehabilitation, a Yonkers nonprofit agency, and L M Development Partners Inc. in Larchmont, a leading developer of afforable housing in metropolitan New York.

A seven-story building will be built at 47-75 Ravine Ave., between Point and Gold streets. Plans call for seven studios, 19 one-bedroom, 38 two-bedroom and 13 three-bedroom rental apartments. Families with incomes up to 80 percent of the area median income would be eligible for residence. Residents at 55, 57 and 61 Ravine Ave., buildings that will be torn down to make way for the development, can relocate to the new building or to comparable housing elsewhere, Yonkers officials said. The developers in partnership with the city also will restore Irving Park, a long-abandoned public park that adjoins the Ravine Avenue site.

Yonkers IDA President and CEO Ellen Lynch said the IDA board, headed by Mayor Philip Amicone, in the last year alone gave its final approval on projects that will create or renovate 535 affordable housing units. About 547 units are under construction and more are in the pipeline, she said. The Ravine Avenue project is expected to create up to 32 construction jobs. IDA officials said would could begin late this year. The IDA approved a sales and use tax exemption for construction materials and equipment, a mortgage recording tax exemption and a real property tax agreement to be negotiated." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in February 2011.

Westchester County Business Journal
March 2011


Hofstra's Twin Oak Apartments Sell to Affordable Housing Developer

"The Twin Oaks Apartments in Hempstead have been sold by Hofstra University to Conifer Realty, LLC.

Conifer specializes in the development, construction and management of high-quality, affordable housing communities; the company, in a collaboration with state, county and local government, will redevelop the property into 94 state-of-the-art rental units.

David Leviton of Cushman & Wakefield's Melville, N.Y., office, and Andrew Merin, David Bernhaut, Gary Gabriel and Jared Zimmel of the company's Metropolitan Area Capital Markets Group in East Rutherford, N.J., orchestrated the sale.

Twin Oaks Apartments, located on Hempstead Turnpike, since the early 1980s had served as student housing for Hofstra but had become surplus space when it built new on-campus accommodations. The university retained Cushman & Wakefield in 2007 to market it and an adjacent small office building for sale.

According to Andrew Crossed, Conifer's executive vice president, the project will serve local working families earning 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income. Conifer will launch a total gut rehab of the Twin Oaks Apartments, gutting the building's entire interior.

According to Crossed, the project adds to Conifer's Long Island presence, where it already owns a number of properties." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.

City Biz Real Estate
December 2010

Lofts at Warwick Nears Completion at 700 Parkside Avenue
“The “re” in real estate might be the prefix for re-model, re-cycle, re-store, re-use or re-develop. All these “re-“ words – and I’m sure there are more – apply to the current real estate market, as homes are being remodeled, home finishes and products are being recycled, architecturally significant buildings are restored and some reused for multi-purposes. But the most difficult and the most important project is – redevelopment, which “re-claims” all of the above elements. It also contributes to the renaissance of a neighborhood and community.
The redevelopment at the former North Park United Presbyterian Church at 700 Parkside avenue in North Buffalo meets those criteria. The $1.5 million renovation of the church and adjacent building is nearing completion for 12 market-rate apartments and 5,500 sq.ft. of office space by Russell D. Kytle and David E. Pawlik of Creative Structures Services, Inc. aka CSS Construction. The redevelopment was privately financed by Northwest Savings Bank.
“This parcel is uniquely positioned one block from Hertel Avenues retail, shopping and entertainment district,” noted Pawlik.
This is a tight-knit residential community that recently witnessed a successful converstion of another former church into the Tacoma Lofts. This conversion project – just a short distance away – included residential units and office space. “Delaware Park is a few blocks away; major transportation routes are at your doorstep,” he added.
The former sanctuary building at 700 Parkside Avenue was constructed of masonry with a slate roof in 1937. The project has been named “The Lofts at Warwick” after the regal castle in England. Kyte is originally from England and the beauty of the church reminded him of his visit to Warwick Castle. The church is a local landmark, continued Pawlik, who grew up in the neighborhood. It has on-site parking that will accommodate 36 spaces. An attached two-story brick building, the former Sunday school building, was erected in the 1950s.
Inside the church building, the stained glass windows, the dark woodwork, ceiling beams and plank ceiling, and brick interior walls were retained during the redevelopment. As site work continues many of the new amenities become evident; hardwood flooring or wall-to-wall carpeting, new kitchens with black-front appliances and granite countertops, ceramic tile in the bathrooms and the central air conditioning.
The 12 unique rental units highlight five, one-bedroom and seven, two-bedroom floor plans. The one-bedroom units range in size from 556 sq.ft. to 875 sq.ft. with loft. Two-bedroom designs tart at 837 sq.ft. to 1,141 sq.ft. with loft, noted Brian Burke of E.F. burke Realty Co., which will handle the property management and leasing. Rents range from $600 to $1,150, he said.
The Lofts at Warwick also offers prime commercial, recreational and office space with off-street parking. CSS Construction will move its offices to the site. As for the rest of the commercial space, the developer will build to suit.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2010.
Buffalo Home Finder
November 2010

Falls Council Updated on Loft Plan

"A highly optimistic report on a proposal to convert the former South Junior High School into an apartment building to be called Niagara City Lofts was presented Monday to the City Council. But the developer said several critical steps still must be taken — and he admitted that the $14 million project might never be done at all.
For one thing, the building and its grounds on Portage Road near Walnut Avenue still are owned by the Niagara Falls School District, and the School Board could decide to put it to some other use.
Another uncertainty involves the availability of state tax credits for historic preservation. The school, built in the 1920s, was closed in 1985. The City Council would have to accept a financial grant and then pass it along to the private developer as a loan.
If those steps and others fall into place, then the Buffalo architectural firm Clinton Brown plans to rehabilitate the unused three-story brick school building and convert it into 52 loft apartments—each with one or two bedrooms. The auditorium, gymnasium and indoor pool would be turned into commercial and community space.
Clinton E. Brown, head of the firm that bears his name, told the Council he has been working on the proposal on and off for a decade. “The project is moving forward. The pace is quickening, although it is taking longer than we expected,” Brown said. He said he hoped the School Board would vote next month to turn over the property to his company, indicating that he was encouraged by his discussions with school officials.
Once that decision is made, Brown said, consultants and contractors could get access to the building to refine their estimates of construction costs and other factors.
Even so, the developer said, the school district would have to hold a referendum — probably in May — before the publicly owned property could be turned over for private development. If the referendum passes and other hurdles are cleared, Brown said, Niagara City Lofts “could be up and running” by May 2012.
He added that a consultant to the project had generally agreed with his company’s projection of the financial viability of the project and of the rents to be charged.
Brown did not specify rental figures during his presentation Monday. But a grant application filed earlier listed rents ranging from $495 a month for the smallest apartments at 450 square feet to $1,842 a month for the two largest units of 2,025 square feet each.
The developer said tenants probably would not come from among present residents of Niagara Falls. Instead, he said, occupants were likely to be upwardly mobile people moving to the city to work at nearby Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center or at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, artists working at the neighboring Niagara Arts and Cultural Center and naturalists seeking a “green” place to live near downtown, where they could ride their bicycles to the falls, the Niagara Gorge and to the Little Italy section of Pine Avenue.
Gov. David A. Paterson last year announced a $5 million grant to the project under the state’s “Restore New York Communities” program. If that grant becomes unavailable because of the state’s current budget deficit, Brown said the project would not be undertaken." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study and appraisal on this project.
The Buffalo News
November 2010

Demand for Affordable Housing Remains Strong

"While dozens of senior condominium projects lay languishing and unable to sell, Jonah Mandelbaum, principal of Warwick Properties LLC is having the opposite problem: He can’t get units of affordable senior housing built fast enough to meet the demand.
The Baby Boomer market is getting ready to explode. And, many who have available credit would love to sell and downsize if they could. However, for many of the 55-and-over set, it isn’t a question of downsizing; it’s a question of surviving financially nowadays.
“It’s great to built 55-and-over private residences if you can sell them,” said Mandelbaum, who has built and owns over 1,000 senior rental apartments throughout the Hudson Valley. “When I started out, I was building a lot of upscale single-family residences … but I kept getting calls asking if there was any ‘affordable’ housing coming on the market. I saw what was on the horizon – and that is when I turned my attention to the senior housing market.
“For many over 55, they are not making six-figure incomes needed to afford luxury condominiums or to move into a continuum of care facilities. They need a place to live that’s safe and affordable. Many can’t afford to pay market rate rents, especially if they are on fixed incomes. You need to build to fill the need; it may not necessarily fill your pockets, but we are certainly busy and expect to remain busy.”
Mandelbaum, who has been building senior rentals in the region for the past 15 years, says his partnership with Ellenville Regional Hospital has been a win-win for both Warwick Properties and for the health care provider. Ellenville Apartments has 100 units that are fully rented with a waiting list “that’s longer than I like to see,” said the builder.
Warwick Properties and the hospital broke ground on Phase 3 of the senior housing complex on Oct. 28, which will be bringing 44 more apartments with rents ranging from $270 to $540 a month to the market. The apartments have Energy-Star rated appliances and equipment, keeping costs down for renters. Mandelbaum expects the third and final phase of the project to be completed by June 2011.
Funding for Ellenville’s senior housing, about $7 million, came from the New York State Housing Trust Fund, the New York State Division of Housing and through federal tax credits. Ironically, Mandelbaum says trying to work with the government to tap American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding involved so much paperwork, “It was not economically feasible to try to get funding. … I think we would still be waiting if we had relied on ARRA for help with senior housing.”
Mandelbaum’s been busy, breaking ground on more senior housing in the village of Warwick, where 82 units will be built at a cost of $15 million.
More than providing senior rentals at affordable rates, Mandelbaum said managing the properties has created jobs. “Each apartment complex has a live-in superintendent and live-in manager. The Ellenville project is going to create 140 construction jobs on a rotating basis. Because it is situated within walking distance to the hospital and to shopping, it is helping bring ancillary income to the village. The pharmacy owner told me he hired another full-time person and a part-time position for a student to make deliveries after school, so the senior housing is having a positive effect on the entire community.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project.
Westfair Online
November 2010

Urban Design Evolves, Making Consensus Difficult

"The inescapable reality behind urban design is that pleasing everyone all of the time is next to impossible. People, like the landscape itself, are in a constant state of evolution. Developers, building engineers, architects, city officials, neighbors and building users, even if they do agree on a plan, can always change their minds.

Developers such as Conifer Realty LLC know this all too well. Recently officials there have been defending a local, riverside housing project to neighbors who suddenly object to its design.But the company is used to it, as most developers have to be. Despite the best provisions and intensions, the property development process is far too complex for snags not to occur. That rarely makes it any less frustrating, however.
Since its inception, Conifer has developed more than 200 properties and more than 15,000 apartment units, mainly affordable housing. Among its current projects is Erie Harbor, the housing development on the Genesee River at the former River Park Commons complex.
Built in 1975 as subsidized housing, River Park Commons had deteriorated when Conifer purchased it in 2004. Neighbors considered it an urban blight; the housing, they complained, was poorly designed and blocked access to the river.
Working with the neighborhood and the city of Rochester, Conifer proposed a redevelopment plan that included rehabilitating the tower at 185 Mt. Hope Ave., now called the Hamilton, and razing four low-rise buildings to make way for market-rate and affordable apartments and town houses under the Erie Harbor name.
Gathering input
In 2008, when Conifer closed on its financing for the tower, company officials presented their plans to neighbors and local organizations, and the feedback, Conifer officials say, was generally positive. One person commented that any new plan for the property would be an improvement over the existing use.
Throughout the redevelopment process, neighborhood organizers, residents and merchants near the property voice their opinions. With written comments from more than 300 people, the design was changed to improve views and to add riverfront walkways, porches and more parking.
But this September, when city and Conifer officials presented the latest plans, they faced community opposition.“There were people who, No. 1, didn’t care for the design and, No. 2, felt that they weren’t properly informed,” says Allen Handelman, project director at Conifer. Some people disliked the contemporary style and bold colors. The problem for Conifer was that they had not voiced those dislikes sooner.        
“It was a design that was public and shared as transparently and openly as possible with anyone who asked,” Handelman says. “And then recently, as we were getting approvals (for) final financing from the city, a local opposition emerged.” This is all part of the development process, he says. Something somewhere is always going to go awry, regardless of the nature of the project, its design or location. Still, Handelman says, “It’s frustrating when you feel like you’ve done everything you possibly can to establish lines of communiation and then not have that work out.”
State of evolution
Robert Boyd, executive director of the South Wedge Planning Committee, can sympathize. Developers, he says, never set out to fail, especially when they are investing large amounts of money. In Conifer’s case, the development is estimated to cost $43 million.
Conifer and other developers, Boyd says, have to weight so many different aspects to develop a design that to some extent people must trust a developer’s experience, research and planning instead of their own subjective opinions.
“Is it preference versus design? You have to know that if a developer is going to put that much money into it, they need to understand the market they’re renting to,” Boyd says. “So does it fit with anything in the Wedge? I’m sure I could tell you 10 buildings it looks just like. Could I tell you there are 100 people who love it? Yes. Are there 100 people who don’t like it? Yes.” But more important than those individual preferences is the usefulness of a project. Its ultimate success depends on the users, not just the neighbors.
“If it’s in an urban setting, does it provide the things that urban dwellers want: access to bus lines, good walking distance to things, etc.?” Boyd says. The public also has to understand, he says, that design changes with the times: materials change; uses change; density changes and styles change.“It’s in a constant state of evolution,” Boyd says.
Despite the architectural eclecticism of the South Wedge and the diversity of people who live there, some neighbors want to stick to a very traditional design, which flies in the face of Conifer’s more contemporary plans. Some people, for example, would like to see Victorian homes line the Erie Harbor development, Boyd says, but economically that is not feasible. People, he says, have to draw a line between community needs and individual preferences.
“The high-rise tower, despite what anyone says, is part of the neighborhood,” Boyd says. “So you start looking around and say, ‘Is what they’re proposing a personal preference? Is there anything flawed in the design?’ For example, if the windows were only a foot wide, then we could say, ‘They’re not taking advantage of the river assets.’ But they’re big windows, and some people think they’re too big.”
One year ago, as exterior renovations on the Hamilton were being completed, the subsidized housing project drew criticism too. People either loved the building’s bold blue, yellow and gray panels or hated them.
Conifer’s Handleman points out that a wholly successful project relies on feedback from all stakeholders. The company has made adjustments to the design to accommodate the most recent community feedback on Erie Harbor, construction of which is slated for later this year. One of the changes includes a more muted color palette.
Final word
Who should have the final say over what constitutes a successful design is an impossible question. Feedback from all parties is essential. The real problem is coordinating and communicating it in a formalized way. But the difficulty with doing it in a formalized way is that a dictated process can inhibit the natural evolution of a neighborhood.
“I don’t advocate for the city controlling the design process,” says Daniel Edgell, senior architect at Stantec Consulting Services Inc. and president of the Rochester chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The city, he says, tried to steer the evolution of the High Falls neighborhood, which did not take off until a more organic evolution, led by individual businesses and developers, supplanted it.
Edgell notes that his opinions are not representative of the Rochester AIA but are based on his own personal experience. “What you’re designing ultimately depends on the people who own it. Public money invites public criticism, and rightly so,” he says.
“But from a designer’s standpoint, architecture is a bit unique because it’s more of a social art. Everyone experiences it in one way or another. And so from my perspective, you try to educate your client as much as you can as to why certain things are well received and why certain things are not well received.
“That’s my role as a consultant, and think that’s the best thing to call an engineer,” he adds. “In a way, we’re like your lawyer: We can educate you, but in the end you have to use the education and the tools we give you to make decisions. We can’t control what decision that is.”
In Conifer’s case, the company puts a lot of faith in the experience of its architect, Barton Partners Architects and Planners of Pennsylvania. When South Wedge neighbors present their ideas to Conifer, the company takes the most relevant suggestions to Barton Partners, and it provides recommendations, Handelman says. That is how a lot of the decisions are made.
Delicate balance
But beyond providing insight and acumen, designers also have to express creativity. “What we do is a practice. Between art and engineering, we need to push the norms once in awhile to enhance the aesthetic,” Edgell says. “The best thing developers can do is keep the design open early, from the concept stage.”
Unfortunately, in the case of Erie Harbor, even when a developer does that, the design process will still run into costly and time-consuming hurdles. To avoid at least some of those hurdles, Joni Monroe, executive director at the Rochester Regional Community Design Center, suggests that a neighborhood determine a vision, employing a process that provides for constant updating and involves neighbors chosen to represent the community.
Roger Brown, creative consultant at the Community Design Center and member of the AIA Rochester Urban Design Committee, says the city understands the need for this but lacks the resources to organize and consistently update the vision. City officials were not immediately available to comment.
“Within the (city’s) 2010 plan, it called for doing vision plans for these urban villages over time, so not only did downtown have a center-city master plan but the various communities would also have these small guiding plans. That’s never really transpired, which is a shame,” Brown says. “I assume some of it has to do with budgeting and planning staff.”
The RRCDC regularly invites urban designers and cit officials from other parts of the country to share their best practices with Rochester. “It’s interesting to see some of these folks who represent other cities, and their planning staffs are amazingly large compared to what we have,” Brown says. “So that’s why we’re around. (The RRCDC) is trying to fill a void, if possible, in the city planning department.”
Measured input from all sides is important. The RRCDC, Monroe says, is not looking to snuff out creativity but to encourage it and to provide an enlightened prospective. Design skill and public sensitivity, supported by good design principles, are necessary to good urban design. What Rochester and neighboring communities need, Monroe says, is the leadership to translate these design necessities into action that is consistent. “But it’s an emotional topic,” she says. “It polarizes people, mapping these things out.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.
Rochester Business Journal
October 2010



First Phase of Hope VI Housing Opens

"The street sweepers still were tidying up the area Tuesday afternoon, and the first tenants moved in only a few days ago, but the city’s newest residential neighborhood already was drawing rave reviews as it planned for its grand opening today.


“It’s going to be a lovely neighborhood. It’s going to grow. They are coming tomorrow to hook up the telephones. And we have two full bathrooms — and one of them is downstairs,” gushed Neziezadie Brown as she relaxed in the afternoon sunshine on the spacious front porch of her new apartment at 1350 Garden Ave.


“Look how big this porch is. We’ll have lights all over the porch for Christmas, and everybody else will have them too,” Brown said as she looked ahead to the changing seasons in the new Hope VI community being created by the Niagara Falls Housing Authority. It replaces the decaying, 67-year-old Center Court public housing project in the city’s North End.


“There’s even a new city bus route right down Garden Avenue, so we can get on the bus without walking all the way to Highland Avenue,” Brown said. The more convenient transportation is among the amenities that appeal to people like the 65-year-old Brown, who walks with a cane.


The first five buildings, with a total of 10 duplex apartments, opened within the last few days. Brown was among the first tenants to move in, along with her husband, Walter, a retired employee of both Bethlehem Steel and the Housing Authority.


Just up the street, Barbara Jeter also was among the first tenants, at 1358 Garden Ave. Having been there for just a few days, Jeter said she still was getting settled into her new home after having lived in the Center Court project for 33 years. “It’s going to take some getting used to, but I just love it,” she said.


Brown and Jeter plan to be on hand for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a. m. today at Garden Avenue and nearby Aaron Griffin Way. Among the speakers will be Stephanie W. Cowart, executive director of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority; Carmelette M. Rotella, chairman of the authority; and a list of public officials and Housing Authority tenants.


The Housing Authority is billing its Hope VI project, expected to cost more than $72 million, as the “Creation of a Be-loved Community. We empower. We enrich. We build strong communities!”


Material being distributed at today’s ceremony explains that the development being built adjacent to the Center Court project is a private-public partnership forged by the Housing Authority and Norstar Development USA.


Phase I, which is being built on city-donated lots, consists of 115 rental units ranging from one bedroom to four bedrooms in 59 buildings. No building will contain more than two apartments. The authority is announcing today that financing for Phase II, to be built on the site where the existing Center Court is to be torn down, has been authorized and construction will begin next summer. When the entire revitalization program is finished, its 282 new housing units will replace the 134 obsolete units on and around Center Court.


The authority said the “modern, well-designed units will not just be replacement housing for Center Court residents, but will offer a mix of home ownership and low-, moderate-and upper-income level rental units to strengthen the overall social and economic foundation of the community and the growing needs of individuals and families who want to live and work in the City of Niagara Falls.”


Other components of the program will include job development and training, health care programs, personal and professional development opportunities, credit counseling, home ownership counseling, after- school tutoring, computer training, budgeting classes and parenting classes." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.


The Buffalo News

October 2010


Tax Breaks Sought From Yonkers IDA for Affordable Housing


“The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency is considering issuing $6.4 million in bonds for a senior complex owner and tax breaks for a new, $20 million affordable-housing project.


At its most recent monthly meeting, the YIDA approved a resolution to accept an application from Ravine Neighborhood Associates LLC for a 64-unit apartment building at 47-75 Ravine Ave., near the waterfront. The affordable-housing complex would be rental apartments restricted to households earning less than 60 percent of WestchesterCounty's median income, which in 2010 is $73,300 for a one-person household. Ravine Neighborhood Associates is seeking exemptions from construction-related sales, mortgage-recording and property taxes.


Developers behind the project include CURE Development, a Yonkers-based affordable-housing developer that is finishing work on a 12-unit, $3 million development at 304 Warburton Ave.


CURE's partner is L&M Development Partners Inc. of Larchmont, which is working on a $51 million, 170-unit building at 314-40 Riverdale Ave. That mixed affordable-housing and market-rate building is expected to be done in the spring, said Ron Moelis, who was at the meeting.


Separately, Woodstock Manor HDFC at 755 Palisades Ave. in the city seeks $6.4 million to refinance its mortgage so that it can afford to rehabilitate the low-income senior complex, which has 61 units.The building's owners also are seeking tax exemptions.


A public hearing on Woodstock Manor's request is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Mayor's Reception Room at City Hall, 40 S. Broadway.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.
September 2010


Mechanicville Draws Developers Focused on GlobalFoundries Workers


"A $40 million housing and retail development is planned for land along the Hudson River that is five miles away from the GlobalFoundries computer-chip plant. The Esplanade would include 225 apartments and 36,730 square feet of office/restaurant/retail space on 11 acres in the city of Mechanicville and adjacent town of Stillwater.

An old pulp and paper mill now used as a warehouse would be demolished to make way for the development, which was designed to take advantage of the views of the river, a lock and surrounding countryside. The only tenant in the warehouse, Leonard Bus Sales, a school transportation company, would be moved to a new facility at the W.J.GrandeIndustrial Park in Saratoga Springs.

The Esplanade is proposed by the owners of Logistics One, a warehousing and distribution company based in Saratoga Springs. “It’s a good location for housing and it’s better suited than warehousing,” Logistics One President William J. McNeary IV said.

Rents would range from $800 to $1,200 for the units, which have an average size of 1,000 square feet. The units would be contained in six buildings, all of which have balconies facing the water. There will be no boat launch to access the river.

The Esplanade’s small-town ambiance, modern amenities and proximity to the chip fab will make it a desirable place for GlobalFoundries workers, McNeary said.

The chip fab is scheduled to open in 2012. About 1,400 people are expected to work there when production hits full-scale in 2014. The Mechanicville planning board recently approved the site plan for the Esplanade. Another developer is pursuing a residential project in Mechanicville with an eye toward renting units to GlobalFoundries workers, though on a much smaller scale.

The former St. Paul’s parochial school would be converted to 14 upscale apartments under plans approved last week by city officials, according to Mayor Anthony Sylvester. The developer, Keith Harris of Schuylerville, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Esplanade would be the first residential/retail development for Logistics One, a company that had revenue of $28 million last year and employs about 200 people. Nevertheless, McNeary and his father, William J. McNeary III, executive vice president, have been involved in real estate for a long time.

“I started my career building houses and my father has been in the real estate business for over 40 years,” McNeary IV said. “It’s not a foreign business for us.” About 75 percent of the construction cost would be financed through borrowing.

Although access to credit has tightened during the recession, particularly for commercial real estate developments, McNeary IV said they have “partial commitments” and he’s confident the funding will be approved. “We are discussing financing with several sources at the moment,” he said.

They will also be seeking an unspecified amount of sales and mortgage tax exemptions from the Mechanicville-Stillwater Industrial Development Agency. If all goes according to plan, The Esplanade would be ready for occupancy in 2013.

“We will be one of the first few in the game,” McNeary IV said of the new residential options for GlobalFoundries workers. 'However, we’re the only ones on the water. We feel it gives us an edge.'" M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project in 2010.

Albany Business Review
August 2010


Plans to Renovate Former Buffalo Church Move Forward


"Developer David Pawlik has cleared another step in his plan to transform a Buffalo church into a residential-based development. According to documents filed in the Erie County Clerk’s office, Pawlik’s 700 Parkside LLC, has officially bought the former North Park Presbyterian Church, paying $210,000 for the complex, located at 700 Parkside Ave.


Pawlik, through his Creative Structure Services Inc., plans to renovate the church into 12 market rate apartments and a small amount office space. The project carries a $1.5 million price tag.

Tentative plans call for the units to range between 1,000-square-feet and 1,300-square-feet with the church’s main sanctuary renovated into six loft-style apartments and the remaining six units shifting over to the former Sunday school complex.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency, in May, approved an incentive package for the project, which was eligible under its adaptive re-use policy. The main church sanctuary was constructed in 1927 and an adjoining Sunday school building was built in the 1950s.

North Park Presbyterian once had a large congregation, but in recent years, that dwindled to about 40 members. The church closed five years ago.

Pawlik, who grew just a few blocks away from North Park Presbyterian, said he was inspired by the renovation of another former church on Tacoma Avenue that sat shuttered for many years and was recently opened stored as the Tacoma Lofts." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.

Business First
August 2010


Ground Broken for St. Martin Village on Dodge Street


In an earlier era, the cavernous complex of brick buildings was an orphanage. It later became a seminary for Catholic priests, then a diocesan education center. But for the past quarter-century, the buildings in the 500 block of Dodge Street near Wohlers Avenue have been empty. "It's been vacant for so long, and it was not maintained or taken care of," said Frank R. Robinson, who can see the complex from the front porch of a home he has lived in since the late 1950s. "It was an eyesore. It brought down the property values." When a fleet of construction vehicles converged on the site earlier this year, Robinson and other neighbors were pleased that the former German Catholic Orphanage was being primed for an extreme makeover.


Recently, nearly 100 people gathered beneath a large tent to help usher in a new life for the complex. ErieCounty's largest nonprofit group is teaming up with numerous funding partners to transform the site into a $16.2 million residential community, complete with a chapel and a small center that will provide services to dwellers.

When St. MartinVillage is completed next year, it will feature 36 townhouses and 24 apartments that will be marketed to low- and moderate-income residents. Three buildings are being torn down, and two others are being renovated. An old chapel is also being restored.

The Community Action Organization of Erie County is the project's lead sponsor. It has been working with the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, Key Community Development Corp. and other partners. Mayor Byron W. Brown joined other local government leaders and community activists at the groundbreaking. The project is being funded through numerous sources, including $2.4 million in federal housing money earmarked by the city, state funds and other grants. The project will be built using energy-efficient technology.

Robinson's earliest recollection of the site was when he was 9 or 10 years old and the complex was being used as a seminary for priests. He hopes the project strengthens one of Buffalo's historic neighborhoods. But he said it will be important for residents who move into the new housing to "take pride" in their community and care for their homes. He also urged city officials to take more aggressive steps to deal with blighted empty buildings that dot many streets around the former orphanage.

Lenord Bethel has lived on Dodge Street for nearly 50 years. When he moved there in the early 1960s, the neighborhood was peaceful and immaculate. These days, a light post outside Bethel's home is adorned with flowers that mark the spot where someone was gunned down a couple of years earlier. Bethel wants to believe that the construction of the new housing in the center of his neighborhood will be a catalyst for community renewal. 'The place will look better,' he said. 'It will make people feel better and safer.'" M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.

The Buffalo News
July 2010


21 North Greenbush Acres Sell For $2.5M

"Twenty-one acres in North Greenbush, the future home of a proposed 180-unit apartment complex, hotel and retail stores called Quackenberry Commons, sold for $2.52 million.

Catlyn & Derzee Inc. sold the property off Exit 8 of Interstate 90 to Van Allen Apartments LLC, according to brokers Bruce Ginsburg and Derek Brown of IKON Realty Group in Albany.

Amedore Land Development in Albany formed Van Allen Apartments to buy the property and pursue the project. The property is located on Route 43, near the Route 4 intersection.

The land is part of a planned development district that is zoned for 180 apartments, a 100-room hotel and 120,000 square feet of retail. Construction of the apartments is expected to begin in early 2011.

Site work has begun for the retail stores, which will be located near the Home Depot on Route 4. The retail stores are being developed by Catlyn & Derzee and should be finished by summer 2011." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project.

The Business Review
June 2010


New Housing for Seniors on Track in Southtowns

"Niagara County developer Calamar Enterprises moved a big step closer to making its new independent senior living community in Orchard Park a reality, as it snapped up the land it needed in three purchases late last week. The Wheatfield developer is planning to build a 90-unit, 82,000-square-foot complex called Eagle Crest Senior Village on 22 acres along Weiss Avenue. The $10 million, two-story building will include both one-and two-bedroom apartments at market-rate prices, aimed at middle-income seniors who don’t qualify for federal subsidies but can’t afford high-priced apartments.

Recently, the firm’s RM3 Holdings LLC entity paid $400,000 to buy vacant land from Downing Family Real Estate LLC, according to Erie County clerk records. It also purchased two adjacent parcels — from Leisure Rinks Southtown and from Bally Total Fitness of Greater New York — in separate deals, according to the clerk’s records.

The project was first unveiled in September, when the Erie County Industrial Development Agency approved $1.38 million in tax breaks to support construction. Specifically, Calamar will save $1 million on property taxes, $300,000 in sales taxes and $79,000 in mortgage recording taxes.

Officials plan to hold a groundbreaking in a month or two, and construction is expected to take about a year. The residence will be owned and managed by Calamar. Calamar is a family-owned construction, development and management firm, with projects in various parts of the United States and Canada. The developer has overseen $125 million in construction in the last decade.

This is the fourth senior community that Calamar will be completing within 24 months, including the 110-unit Woodlands Senior Village project in Wheatfield, the last piece of which opened in February. Calamar is considering a similar venture in Hamburg.

While the developer has also done industrial, commercial and retail work, its focus in Western New York is now on senior housing. The firm told the ECIDA that the over-60 population in Orchard Park, Hamburg and West Seneca will rise from 27.9 percent of the population to 34 percent within five years. It’s also engaged in similar efforts elsewhere, including a big senior housing project in Omaha, Neb. Nationwide, the firm says, 22 million baby boomers will be retiring shortly, giving significant impetus to the efforts to ensure there is enough housing for their needs." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study on this project.

The Buffalo News
May 2010


From Warehouse to Apartment House

"A long vacant set of former department store warehouse buildings has a new lease on life, as the AM&A's Warehouse Lofts project opened May 14 with residential tenants and a collections agency moving in immediately. Rocco Termini unveiled his mixed-use conversion of the deteriorated warehouses at 369 Washington St. into 48 apartments and 15,000 square feet of commercial space.

The completion of the eagerly awaited project marks a big accomplishment for Termini, and a turnaround for a large derelict parcel in the center of Buffalo. The yearlong, $12 million project required a complex array of financing involving historic and other tax credits, as well as nine public and private sources of outside capital, to revive the century-old landmark structure.

"It had been vacant for 15 years, so financing was very difficult," said Termini, who led the project through his Signature Development Buffalo LLC company. "Without the New Markets Tax Credits financing, it never would have gotten done." Those federal credits are geared to help urban redevelopment.

Built in 1892 as a dry-goods store, the building was later used by the Adam Meldrum & Anderson store as a warehouse until the business closed. In redoing the building, Signature kept the original hardwood floors, extensive brick and marble, and 14-foot ceilings.

The 65,000-square-foot complex includes 50,000 square feet of residential space, featuring 36 one-bedroom apartments and 12 two-bedroom units. Rents range from $850 to $1,175 per month, depending on variations in size. There are also two workout rooms for residents.

As of today, 45 of the 48 apartments are rented, with tenants ready to move in as early as Saturday. However, Termini said he is offering half a month's rent free for tenants as an incentive to encourage them to stagger their moves over the next 15 days, so as not to overwhelm the building at once.

About 30 percent of the tenants are medical residents or fellows who are coming from out of town to work in the nearby medical corridor. That's because, instead of working 18 hours straight, medical residents now work 10 hour-shifts and are on call for eight more hours. That means they may "have to get to work quickly," so "all the residents have to live within a few minutes of the hospital," Termini explained.

Collections firm P&B Acquisitions will occupy 15,000 square feet on the first floor, moving from smaller space it leased from Termini at Ellicott Commons above the Washington Street Market, at 465 Ellicott St. That will enable the company to more than double in staff from 50 employees currently to 130 within the next year … up from just five employees five years ago. "This is really a stimulus project," Termini said. "That's what the stimulus money was intended to do."

The rehabilitation was funded primarily through a $7.4 million construction loan from KeyBank, helped by an allocation of New Markets tax credits. "KeyBank has been a valuable partner with us," Termini said. "They provided financing for a very difficult project that other banks wouldn't even consider." Key sold the tax credits to investors and used that revenue to "buy down" the interest rate on the loan to 1 percent for the first two years and then 4.72 percent for the remaining five.

"The loan is very important to our position and visibility here in Buffalo," said Joseph G. Eicheldinger, senior relationship manager for Key Community Development Lending. "We make loans in the communities in which we serve and the mission of those loans is to revitalize urban neighborhoods and to encourage economic diversity and neighborhood reinvestment. This particular investment accomplishes all of those."

The project also qualified for federal historic tax credits, which Termini will then sell to U.S. Bancorp's U.S. Bank Community Development Corp. in exchange for a $3.5 million equity investment that will reduce KeyBank's loan to $5.2 million. And it involved participation from First Niagara Bank, Evans Bank, National Fuel Gas Co., National Grid USA, the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp., the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and the Empire State Development Corp.

"As the excitement of the redevelopment of downtown Buffalo gains momentum, KeyBank is committed to financing both new construction and historic renovations, especially in redeveloping neighborhoods," said Key's Buffalo district president, Gary Quenneville.

The completed complex is the first of three such major redevelopment efforts by Termini, who originally bought four warehouse buildings for $720,000 in June 2009. Three were of historical significance and were retained, but the fourth was knocked down using $400,000 from BERC to create 20 parking spaces. To ensure adequate parking, Termini has also rented additional spaces from the city, for a total of 60.

He also has an agreement to buy the nearby Hotel Lafayette, a once-opulent landmark opened in 1904. Termini plans to spend $35 million to convert the six-story, 367-room hotel into a mixed-use development with 115 market-rate apartments, a boutique suites hotel, five restaurants, 15,000 square feet of office space, and a banquet facility.

And he has an option to buy the 350,000 square-foot AM&A's department store building itself, with plans for a $70 million renovation. That will include a 117-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, banquet center, meeting and conference space, food court, bar and restaurant, 28 independent senior-living apartments, 24 market-rate apartments, and 30,000 square feet of office space for Hamister Group's new headquarters. But the other two projects are on hold until Albany passes legislation that would make major changes to the state's historic tax credit program that Termini says are necessary to make the renovations viable. Termini said he has not even completed the purchases of the buildings. "Everything's still pending," he said. "Without those credits, it's not do-able." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2009.

The Buffalo News
May 2010


Parkside Church May Become Residential Development

"A vacant Parkside Avenue church that has stood as a North Buffalo landmark for decades may find new life as a residential-based development.

Creative Structures Services Inc., a Buffalo-based construction company, has agreed to purchase North Park Presbyterian Church at 700 Parkside Ave. It intends to renovate the building into 12 market-rate apartments, as well as office space. Creative Structures plans to move its own offices into a portion of the church. The development project carries an estimated price tag of $1.5 million.

David Pawlik, Creative Structures co-founder, confirmed he will be seeking an inducement package from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for the project, which is eligible under the agency’s adaptive-re-use policy.

The IDA has scheduled a May 4 public hearing on the project. Its board of directors is expected to vote on the project at a meeting on May 10. Creative Structures has the building under contract, with a closing set for later in May.

Pawlik, who grew up on Parkside Avenue a few blocks away from the church, said he was intrigued by the building, given its location and architectural elements. “There was something about it,” Pawlik said. He was a City of Buffalo development official under former Mayor Anthony Masiello.

The church’s main sanctuary was constructed in 1927 and an adjoining Sunday school building was built in the early 1950s.

North Park Presbyterian once had a deep congregation, but recent years saw it dwindle to just 40 members. The church closed its doors about five years ago and was marketing the property. Pawlik said that when another nearby church on Tacoma Avenue was renovated into the Tacoma Lofts, he decided to give North Park Presbyterian a good look. “There was something intriguing about it, especially looking at how well the Tacoma Lofts were received,” he said.

The Parkside area where the church is located is considered one of the most stable in Buffalo and in North Buffalo, in particular. The property is one block north of Hertel Avenue and less than 10 minutes from downtown Buffalo.

Tentative development plans call for six loft-style apartments to be developed in the main sanctuary and the other six apartments going into the Sunday school building. The plan was put together by local architect James Rumsey. Pawlik’s company will serve as its own construction manager.

The apartments will range in size from 1,000 to 1,300 square feet. All will be two-bedroom units. The office space, roughly 6,000 square feet, also will go into portions of the sanctuary. Creative Structures Services will use about 2,100 square feet of the office space. “There’s already a street buzz and it has been very positive,” Pawlik said. He plans to meet with Northwest Savings Bank regarding financing for the project, he said. Work could begin as early as June, with the first units ready for occupancy by early winter." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2010.

Buffalo Business First
April 2010


Housing Planned at Former Dodge Street Orphanage

"A boarded-up East Side complex that once served as an orphanage is slated to be converted into housing for low-to moderate-income people. The $16.3 million St. Martin Village project was reviewed Thursday by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, which allocated $2.4 million in federal housing funds toward it.

The project is being undertaken by the Community Action Organization of Erie County, an agency with close political ties to Mayor Byron W. Brown. “This is an excellent project,” said Brown, chairman of the Urban Renewal Agency. “This facility has been vacant for nearly 30 years. This will go a long way toward stabilizing that part of the community.”

The Community Action Organization, a nonprofit community group, is partnering on the project with Delta Development of Western New York, the development arm of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

Plans call for partial demolition and renovation of the former German Catholic Orphanage, 564 Dodge St., along with new construction.Three buildings will be demolished, and two others will be renovated and converted into 24 two-bedroom apartments. Six new buildings will be constructed, creating 36 three-and four-bedroom townhouses. The chapel will be converted into a common area for St. Martin Village residents as well as a community services facility occupied by the Community Action Organization.

In addition to the $2.4 million from the Urban Renewal Agency, project funding includes $2.4 million from the state Housing Trust Fund Loan Program, $1 million from the Community Preservation Corp. loan program and more than $9.5 million from the Key Community Development Corp.

L. Nathan Hare, executive director of the Community Action Organization, was not available to comment Thursday. Hare has ties to Grassroots, the political organization that has served as Brown’s political springboard.

Also, the Urban Renewal Agency allocated $900,100 in federal funds to help convert the former Holy Family Elementary School on Tifft Street into affordable senior housing. Plans call for converting the three-story building into 35 apartments. The building also will become the permanent home of the South Buffalo Food Pantry.

The $8.2 million project is being undertaken by Delta Development along with Living Communities LLC. Additional funding includes $2.2 million from the state Housing Trust Fund Program and $4.9 million in tax credits from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

“This is an excellent project,” said South Council Member Michael P. Kearns. “It keeps our seniors in South Buffalo.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study and appraisal on this project in 2010. 

The Buffalo News
March 2010


Upgrades - At Any Cost

"Just a short distance east of downtown Buffalo, a few blocks away from neighborhoods pocked with vacant lots and boarded-up buildings, you'll find Sycamore Village. It's an upscale development in one of the poorest parts of the city, featuring houses that receive unprecedented subsidies to go with unprecedented price tags.

Looking for a good deal on a new house? In Sycamore Village, a $225,000 Colonial goes for $176,000. Those who qualify as low-and-moderate income under federal guidelines (that's a maximum income of $50,800 for a family of four), can get a $215,000 model for just $90,000.

Worried about property taxes? For the first 10 years, they are discounted. It's another perk for agreeing to live in this experimental community -- a high-end East Side development built on a former industrial site.

And there's more. Before City Hall built the 15 homes that now make up Sycamore Village, it spent $1 million in state funds to clean up the property and another $1 million in city funds on sewer and water lines and other amenities. But those costs aren't folded into the price tag. Nonetheless, when calculating the full development cost of these houses, these environmental and public works expenses bring the amount the city paid for each Sycamore Village home to as much as $350,000, according to Buffalo News calculations.

Some say this is the cost of rebuilding an inner-city neighborhood. "Trying to take a deteriorated part of the city and turn it into a successful mixed-income neighborhood -- that does not happen without subsidies," said Janet Penksa, the city's commissioner of finance, who is a member of the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.

Critics don't dispute Penksa's rationale, but say Sycamore Village takes her good intentions a bit too far. "It's absurd," said Steven H. Polowitz, an attorney who has worked with various housing organizations in Buffalo. "How do you justify these kinds of subsidies when you look at the need out there in the neighborhoods for all the existing people whose homes need work who don't get a dime?"

Traditionally, subsidized housing in Buffalo meant low-to-moderate-income homeowners got $20,000 to $25,000 in federal funds from the city to help purchase a home built by private developers. Ten years ago, for example, the average subsidized home cost $93,400. With a $22,000 federal subsidy, the buyer paid about $71,400.

But today, subsidized houses in Buffalo -- and not just in Sycamore Village -- cost upwards of $200,000 each to build. City property values are not keeping up with these rising housing costs, so subsidies now go to developers as well as homeowners. The combined subsidies total as much as $100,000 in order to keep the average sale price at $80,000 to $90,000.

Private companies are no longer involved in developing these homes. Instead, subsidized housing in Buffalo is exclusively the domain of nonprofit organizations, including City Hall. The federal government now provides full construction funding as well as subsidies as long as home buyers qualify as low or moderate income. That's generally the case with 50 subsidized homes that Belmont Shelter Housing Corp. developed in the Hickory-Kane-Kamp Road area at the City of Buffalo's request. The homes cost, on average, $190,000 each to build, with the largest houses in the group costing as much as $200,000 for construction, soft costs, subsidies and soil remediation.

The houses sell for an average $82,000 after subsidies. A similar pricing structure exists with 25 homes being built by Bethel Community Development Corp., headed by the Rev. Richard A. Stenhouse, and three houses being built by True Community Development Corp., headed by the Rev. Darius Pridgen.

Pridgen's group was recently awarded more than $724,000 in HUD money for three homes on Woodlawn Avenue, near Pridgen's church. That's $241,000 each for houses that will sell for $80,000 to $100,000 each.

With the Belmont Shelter, Bethel Community and True Community programs, these homes are designated for low-and-moderate-income home buyers. Also under federal regulations, proceeds from the sale of these homes must be used on future housing projects. Those also are the rules for the city's most highly subsidized houses in Sycamore Village, which City Hall is developing.

Sycamore Village

The four Sycamore Village homes designed for low-and-moderate-income buyers are scattered among the other 11 houses in the village project, which are sold without regard to income limits.

The four low-to-moderate-income homes cost a total of about $860,000 to develop and build -- or $215,000 each, excluding environmental cleanup costs. They have $150,000 price tags, but each homeowner gets a $60,000 subsidy, meaning the new homeowner pays $90,000. That still leaves a gap of about $64,000 per home, which is considered the developer's subsidy. The federal government picks up the cost of these homeowner and developer subsidies, which totaled about $500,000 for the four houses, or $124,000 per house.

The 11 larger Sycamore Village homes the city is building are not federally funded. They are designed for the relatively well-to-do. But they still receive a subsidy -- which the city picks up. These homes cost about $225,000 to develop and build, and sell for an average $205,000, although buyers pay, on average, $176,000. That's because the city gives each homeowner, on average, a $29,000 subsidy. The remaining $20,000 gap is picked up by the city also as a developer subsidy.

The city's total cost to subsidize the 11 houses is, on average, $49,000 per house, or $536,000 for the 11 homes. The funds to pay for the subsidies come primarily from the sale of a city-owned parking ramp, said Penksa, city finance commissioner and Urban Renewal Agency board member. No federal antipoverty money was used for these 11 "market rate" houses, Penksa said.

Since being put on the market in November 2008, the city has sold all of the 11 market-rate homes that were built, the last two selling in the past two months. Three of the four highly subsidized ones are also sold, according to Keith L. Barnes, the realty agent working with the city to sell Sycamore Village.

"From the perspective of bringing new life into a neighborhood, the project has been clearly successful," Penksa said. "There was nothing there, and now there is development."

Peter K. Cutler, a spokesman for Mayor Byron W. Brown, predicted that Buffalo's subsidized housing will prove to be a good investment. "I think it's reasonable to expect that as continued investments are made in the community, we will get to that point [where the homes are worth their construction price.]," he said.

Others are skeptical. "Look at how many homes they have built in the area already," said attorney Polowitz, referring to the hundreds of less-costly subsidized homes built in the surrounding area over the past two decades. "Why do they think by building 15 to 20 more homes at that outrageous expense that we will have different result?"

For now, Sycamore Village is on hold. Sycamore Village was initially envisioned as a 24-unit development. With 15 homes already built in Phases 1 and 2 of the development, that leaves nine more yet to be built. Before Buffalo decides if it will build those nine houses, the city wants to do a market analysis, Penksa said.

"There are no plans to proceed with Phase 3," she said. "The next step is to evaluate the project. The city is committed to continuing development in the Sycamore Village neighborhood, but not necessarily the planned Phase 3. The real estate market and economy have changed dramatically since Sycamore Village. We are going to do a market analysis, and like any development, make sure it makes sense in the short and long term."

In the beginning

Sycamore Village wasn't always intended to be as expensive as it became. Back in 2002, during the Masiello administration, city officials hired M.J. Peterson to build homes on the Sycamore Village site that would be more typical of subsidized housing in Buffalo. But while Peterson was building three houses, the Masiello administration realized that the land where the houses were built on was contaminated with heavy metals.

Eventually, at the beginning of the Brown administration, the city paid to demolish the houses and remediate the land, a process that cost well over $1 million, recalled Timothy E. Wanamaker, the former city housing chief now working in California. When the city was ready to rebuild, Wanamaker decided to test the waters and see if the Sycamore Street area was ready for upscale housing, in some cases including Corian countertops, ceramic tile floors, fireplaces, central air conditioning and whirlpool tubs.

The highly subsidized houses in Sycamore Village are somewhat smaller than the more expensive ones -- 1,300 to 1,400 square feet vs. 1,700 to 1,900 square feet. The highly subsidized homes have one-car garages rather than two, fewer high-end amenities and no whirlpool or Corian counters. Nonetheless, the development was designed, Wanamaker said, so that you can't tell the difference between the federally funded and the market rate homes. That's important, he and other planners say, to maintain the value of all the houses.

Wanamaker, who had a street in the development -- Sydni Lane -- named for his daughter, Sydni, added that it's important when redeveloping in urban areas to provide homes for people of varying incomes, not just low-income, and to provide an alternative for people who might otherwise move to the suburbs. At the same time, he said, you don't want to create a development on the East Side only for the higher income. That would become a gated community, he said.

Size a factor

Wanamaker left Buffalo city government before the project came to fruition, and the prices on the houses were set. But other development officials say they aren't surprised by the level of subsidies required in today's market. Part of the cost reflects the sizes of the homes -- many are several hundred square feet bigger than the ones built in the city years ago.

More significant is the cost surrounding the city's decision to require clean fill used in any project involving city property, hoping to avoid environmental problems. Most recent estimates peg the cost at $30,000 to $40,000 in soil remediation costs per house. But the bigger issue seems to be that property values in Buffalo -- particularly on the East Side -- haven't kept up with the increasing cost of construction in recent years, making it hard to follow subsidy formulas of the past, according to development officials.

Often the appraised price of the house, as established by the bank, does not equal the cost to build the house, especially when property acquisition and all soft costs are included. What's more, given the median income of the area, federal regulations effectively limit the price a subsidized home can be sold for to $150,000.

So in addition to the subsidy the buyer receives, a subsidy also goes to the developer, to bridge the gap between the home's selling price and construction cost. That's not the case in more-affluent communities such as East Amherst but holds true in Buffalo and to a lesser extent in some of the city's older suburbs, including Cheektowaga, according to development officials.

Build or rehab?

Given the high cost of new construction, development officials, including Wanamaker, said government needs to consider whether it makes sense to build new homes in Buffalo or rehab existing ones. Generally, it costs about $100,000 to acquire and rehab a house that then sells for no more than $60,000, said Bryan M. Cacciotti, executive director of HomeFront Inc. a nonprofit housing agency in Buffalo dedicated to housing rehabilitation. But there have been instances, he said, where costs have reached as high as $200,000.

In those cases, HomeFront felt restoring a few key houses that needed extensive rehab would have a positive domino effect on the neighborhood.

Dennis M. Penman, a home builder who is the current head of the city's economic agency, the Buffalo Economic Development Agency, said rehab doesn't always make sense with larger East Side homes.

Given the need to remove lead and asbestos from houses, and the costs associated with providing aluminum siding, plumbing and other basics, it could cost as much or more to rehabilitate as to build a new, smaller house, Penman said. And the smaller, newly built homes are more affordable to maintain, given such factors as heating costs, he said. Nonetheless, Penman agreed with Cacciotti and others who said a combination of new builds and rehabilitation might be the answer to revitalizing a community while keeping costs in mind.

"When you do development or neighborhood revitalization, you have to have so many tools in your toolbox," Cacciotti said. "You can't just look at one activity and expect a neighborhood to come back." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study for this project in 2008.

The Buffalo News
March 8, 2010


 AM&A's Lofts Expected to Open in May

"Rocco R. Termini’s new AM&A’s Warehouse Lofts residential project is more than half leased and should open by early May, the downtown developer told the Buffalo Place board.

Termini, through his firm Signature Development Buffalo LLC, is converting the former department store warehouse buildings into 48 loft apartments — 36 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units — and 15,000 square feet of commercial office space.

So far, 26 of the apartments are rented, and the office is slated to be occupied by P&B Capital Group LLC, a collections agency formerly known as Phillips & Burns LLC. Monthly rents run from $850 to $1,150.

The apartment tenants are “a mix” of seniors, researchers and others with ties to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and new employees of M&T Bank Corp. M&T recruits a new “class” of workers every June.

In a previously announced project, he’s hoping to line up financing and other support to turn the landmark 350,000 square-foot department store itself into a $70 million mixed-use project. He has an option to buy the vacant and dilapidated building from the current owner.

Plans call for the AM&A’s complex to include a 117-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, a banquet center, meeting and conference space, a food court, a bar and restaurant, 28 independent-living senior citizen apartments, 24 market-rate apartments and 30,000 square feet of office space. Additionally, Termini is also buying the Hotel Lafayette, with hopes of reviving it.

However, both projects rely on use of the state historic tax credit, which he and other critics say is burdened by crucial flaws. In particular, the law does not allow him to sell the tax credits to banks and insurers, who are among the biggest potential buyers, and he can’t sell the federal and state credits separately. Termini is pushing for passage of a bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo, to change the law." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal on this project.

The Buffalo News
February 2010


Lofts Open at Broadway and Fillmore

"Urban multifamily housing developer Eran Epstein has completed his renovation of a former East Side factory into affordable housing and retail space, opening East Village Lofts.

The $4 million, two-year project by Epstein’s E Square Capital LLC converted the four-story, 45,000-square-foot factory at 937 Broadway at Fillmore Avenue into a mix of 43 affordable studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

The apartments rent for $325 a month for a studio, from $348 to $517 for one-bedroom units, and $549 for the largest two-bedroom apartment; all rents include heat. The firm said Monday that 60 percent of the units were rented within the first five days after opening.

The apartments range in size from 416 square feet to 1,248 square feet, with loft designs, new appliances and ceramic tiles. The building features on-site laundry, a community room, elevator and a security system, as well as a gated parking lot for 22 cars at Wilson and Townsend streets, where E Square purchased nearby vacant lots from the city of Buffalo.

Wagner Optical, the only current commercial tenant, remains on the ground floor, but E Square also created two more retail spaces of 3,000 square feet and 1,000 square feet.

The opening of the building completes a project that began when Epstein bought the building in 2002 from Mauntner Co., a jewelry display case maker that left the building in 2000. He paid $10, and also assumed $20,000 in back taxes and $40,000 in utility bills owed on the property. Epstein and Chris Gerhart of CWG Development collaborated on the project with Silvestri Architects, but E Square was the contractor and will manage the property.

The project received government benefits from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and financing from Boston Capital Corp. and Citizens Bank.

This is the latest venture for Epstein, who began investing in Buffalo residential real estate in 1994 while he was a student at the University at Buffalo. Since then, his firm has purchased a 21-unit apartment building at 367 Elmwood Ave., a 23-unit building at 2803 Main St. and a 48-unit building at 950 Delaware Ave.

The firm also worked with Gerhart to renovate the former Holling Press factory at 501 Washington St. into 82 affordable apartments, and turned the building across the street at 504 Washington into loft condominiums. Last year, Epstein and Gerhart opened The Residence at 245 North St., with 64 affordable senior citizen apartments in the former YWCA Residence." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study for this project.

The Buffalo News
January 2010


Rochester Management, Inc. and Rochester's Cornerstone Group Finish $60.425 Million Renovation Project

"Affordable housing originally built to help World War II veterans save money in order to purchase their first home is now completely renovated to serve a new generation. Rochester Management, Inc., Rochester's Cornerstone Group (RCG) and the city upgraded a total of 516 city apartments across three different apartment communities in city's northeast and northwest quadrants. The total development was $60.425 million.

In 1946, as thousands of local World War II servicemen returned home to overcrowded and substandard housing, the need for solution to this growing housing problem became clear. With the same "can-do" attitude that America demonstrated throughout the war years, eight local banks joined together and formed a nonprofit that collaborated with the city to quickly address the needs. Their solution was called, "The Rochester Plan," and it was an effort to create affordable rental housing for the veterans and their families. The city donated the land at a nominal cost and provided a low tax assessment. The participating banks formed Rochester Management, Inc., a non-profit corporation that built the rental units and manages them, to this day, on a non-profit basis. The banks then received an insured mortgage from the Fair Housing Administration (FHA) at a very low interest rate. Construction began in the spring of 1946 at the first community, and the latter two were built shortly thereafter.

As construction progressed, nearly 3,500 applicants poured in from servicemen for only 516 units. To assure fairness, tenants were chosen by lottery. The plan's goal of enabling the young families to save money toward purchasing a home was a resounding success: by 1956, nearly 900 families had purchased their own homes in the area. The plan was recognized as a national model to address the national housing shortage. To this day, returning veterans still receive preference at each of these three communities. Over the years, there have been 8,000 city families who have called these apartment communities home. As the three complexes had begun to show their age, a major renovation was in order.

Rochester Management, Inc. selected RCG to oversee the renovations. LeCesse Construction and Konopka Architecture were also selected for site work, design and construction. A thorough review of the projects revealed the need to replace a majority of the roofs, windows, rear porches, landscaping, and all the mechanicals. It became clear that some buildings needed to become handicap accessible, and as the communities lacked any community space, community centers were built at all three projects. The improvements were completed in September. Cornerstone's primary goal as developer has been to maintain the affordable nature of this project." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study for this project.

New York State Real Estate Journal
November - December, 2009


Developer Proposes Apartments for Holy Family Site


"A Buffalo school attended by the late Tim Russert is being eyed as a new senior apartment complex. Delta Development Co. confirmed it wants to renovate the circa 1915 Holy Family School into a 35-unit senior housing complex. The former school is located at the corner of Seneca and Tifft streets.

Delta will unveil the proposal for the $8.2 million project during the Nov. 17 Buffalo Planning Board meeting. The planning board is one of several city approvals needed before construction can begin. Because of its age and potential historic status, the state Office of Historic Preservation must also sign off on the project.

Holy Family School closed in 2004 due to dwindling enrollment. During its peak years of 1950 to 1975, the school averaged more than 1,500 students each year. By 2004, however, it had just 105 students. Russert, longtime host of "Meet the Press," attended kindergarten and first grade there.

Holy Family Church, which neighbors the school, remains open. Catholic Charities of Buffalo continues to run a food pantry in the basement of the former school. The school is among 22 properties - mostly senior or elderly care residential complexes - that Delta Development operates in Western New York.

Pending various approvals, the renovation project should start by early spring. The apartments should be open by spring 2011. More than 200 people have expressed an interest in living there. The three-story complex will have 30 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom apartments.

Delta Development is working with KeyBank on both construction and permanent financing for the project. The City of Buffalo, through its HOME financing program, has offered $900,100 for the project. Living Communities LLC has been retained as Delta's development partner." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study for this project in 2008.

Buffalo Business First
November 2009


Housing For Elderly Gets IDA Tax Breaks

"A senior citizens apartment complex in Orchard Park is receiving nearly $1.4 million in tax breaks through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, despite the objections of County Legislature Chairwoman Lynn M. Marinelli.

The agency approved property, sales and mortgage tax breaks Monday for the 90-unit Eagle Crest Senior Village complex on Weiss Avenue in Orchard Park that is being planned by an offshoot of real estate development firm Calamar.

IDA officials said the 82,000- square-foot complex will help fill a growing need for affordably priced senior citizens apartments in the Southtowns. The apartments, which are expected to rent for $850 to $950 a month, are for senior citizens capable of an independent lifestyle, said Karen Fiala, the IDA’s coordinator of tax incentive products.

The $8 million project will fill a void for middle-income senior citizens, who have too much money to qualify for subsidized housing, yet can’t afford to live in a more expensive life-care community, she said, noting that 28 percent of Orchard Park’s population is 60 or older.

Senior citizens housing complexes often have received IDA tax breaks, as developers launch new projects in response to the growth in the region’s elderly population. The number of households consisting of people 60 and older in Hamburg, Orchard Park and West Seneca is expected to grow by nearly 9 percent over the next five years, IDA officials said. Even with the tax breaks, the project is expected to generate an additional $824,000 in local property tax revenue and payments, IDA officials said.

The IDA also approved sales tax breaks of as much as $65,000 for Windham Professionals, a debt collection agency that is expanding its operations, with plans to hire 120 new workers over the next two years. The sales tax break covers the purchase of as much as $740,000 in new equipment, computers, furniture and machinery as part of Windham’s plans to expand its second-floor offices at 300 Gleed Ave. in East Aurora.

Empire State Development Corp. last month gave a $280,000 grant to the Salem, N. H.-based national debt collector, which handles past-due government-guaranteed student loans and some private loans. The company, which now employs 80 people in East Aurora, plans to boost its work force to 200 within two years." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study for this project.

The Buffalo News
October 2009


Old Livery to Ride Again as Apartment Building

"Saved from the wrecker's ball, a late 19th century equine livery is coming back to life as an apartment building. The Savarino Cos. will present a formal redevelopment plan for the nearly demolished Jersey Street livery to the Buffalo Planning Board Sept. 8. Pending the expected approval and the necessary permits from Buffalo City Hall, work could begin this fall or, more likely, in spring, said developer Sam Savarino.

"We might be a little late for the fall construction season, especially considering all the masonry work that needs to get done and the weather conditions crews may face by late fall," he said.

The former White Brothers Livery, a three-story structure that dates to 1889, was days away from being demolished when Savarino stepped in to save it. The restoration was championed by Mayor Byron Brown, among others. "The mayor really helped us pull this through for us," Savarino said.

The $3.5 million project, jointly funded through public- and private-sector sources, will be a 14-unit apartment building that offers "affordable" housing, he said. The apartments include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units ranging in size from 800 to 1,100 square feet. "All of our funding is in place and ready to go," Savarino said.

The project represents a mix between civic pride and economics, he added. Despite its unique architecture and history, the building was badly deteriorating and the city was considering razing it out of concerns for public safety before Savarino stepped in and agreed to take on the project.

He has vowed to restore the building as closely as possible to the original design, including rebuilding the front facade to showcase arched windows and a twin peaked roof. The design work was handled by Stieglitz Snyder Architecture of Buffalo. Savarino said he is looking to have the first tenants move in by late next year or early 2011.

The apartments will be on the building's upper two floors, while the first floor will house an indoor, 12-car parking garage. Besides serving as a horse livery for carriages and recreational riders, the building also was used as a gas station and auto repair shop and, later, as a vehicle storage facility." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study for this project in 2009.

Buffalo Business First
September 2009


School to Become Senior Housing

"A long-vacant building in South Buffalo that once served as Western New York’s largest parochial school will be transformed into new housing for senior citizens. The former Holy Family Elementary School, at 1901 South Park Ave. near Tifft Street, will become a 35-unit apartment complex. City, state, federal and county officials announced the $9 million project Monday at the site, lauding it as a collaboration among various government entities.

Construction will begin later this year or in early 2010. The facility will provide affordable housing to low-and moderate-income residents who are at least 55 years old. Some of the apartments in the Holy Family Senior Housing Development will be tailored to frail residents and will include an emergency call response system and features that make them accessible to people who have physical impairments.

The city will commit $900,000 in funds it receives from the federal government to promote housing, Mayor Byron W. Brown said Monday. The Rev. James B. Cunningham, administrator of Holy Family Parish, said there is a pressing need for senior housing in communities across America. The elementary school was opened in 1915 and closed 89 years later as part of a consolidation of parochial schools in the city.

The housing project should be completed in early 2011. The three-story structure will house 30 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom apartments. Among officials joining Brown and Cunningham at Monday’s news conference were Rep. Brian Higgins, Assemblyman Mark Schroeder and Erie County Legislator Timothy M. Kennedy. The development will complement millions of dollars in capital improvements that are being made as part of the South Park Avenue Reconstruction Project, said officials." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study for this project in 2008/2009.

The Buffalo News
July 2009


Coalition of Churches Stalls Plan For Housing

"A $12 million housing initiative aimed at bringing 50 rent-to-own homes to Buffalo’s East Side has been derailed, apparently due to opposition from a faith-based community development group whose president told top city officials the project isn’t good for the community. The housing plan received initial support last year from Buffalo, which led to it receiving funding from New York State as well as a private investor. But since March, when it won city planning board approval, the project has been stalled. City officials haven’t authorized the in-lieu-of-tax agreement the project requires and haven’t transferred to the Cleveland-based developer the vacant lots in the city’s Cold Spring and Masten districts that the project needs.

City housing officials were not immediately available to discuss the issue, but it appears the main opposition to the NRP project comes from the Jeremiah Partnership, a collaboration of seven African-American churches working to revitalize the East Side that is headed by the Rev. Richard A. Stenhouse. Jeremiah Partnership favors targeted development over the scattered site housing NRP is proposing. Jeremiah prefers home ownership to rent-to-own homes. Jeremiah also objects to the city using $1.6 million of its federal housing funds on the project, and doesn’t think the NRP project fits into the Jeremiah Partnership’s strategic plan for redeveloping East Side neighborhoods. The city set up a meeting between NRP and Jeremiah during which Jeremiah asked to be responsible for minority hiring on the NRP project, and to set up a mentoring program supporting future minority developers.

NRP in late 2007 entered into a contract with Belmont Shelters of Buffalo to serve as its local development partner on the project. Given concerns expressed by Stenhouse and the city during the March 2009 meeting, NRP agreed to also establish a minority component. NRP issued a Request for Proposals, asking those interested to submit their plans for involving minorities in the project. Jeremiah Partnership was invited to submit a proposal and did. Several others also submitted proposals.

The one selected came from University at Buffalo’s Professor Henry Taylor, working with UB’s Center for Urban Studies, in conjunction with J. W. Pitts Planning and Development Co., owned by former Common Council President James W. Pitts. The proposal was superior and less costly than the Jeremiah proposal. Stenhouse was involved with a rent-to-own project that Belmont Shelters Corp. developed on the East Side three years ago. It involved 29 scattered homes using the same financial mechanism that NRP is using. It’s partly because of that that he opposes further scattered site housing. It’s preferable to do targeted development in neighborhoods where there has already been development. And home ownership is preferable to lease-to-own homes." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study for this project in 2008. 

The Buffalo News
July 2009


Termini Seeks to Redevelop Long-Vacant AM&A's Store

"Downtown developer Rocco Termini plans to spend $80 million to $100 million on redeveloping the former AM&A department store downtown, possibly in as little as a year, but said he’ll need government help to do it. Termini, who has started converting three former AM&A warehouse buildings into apartments and office space, told the directors of Buffalo Place Wednesday that he has begun discussions with various planners and designers to help on the project.

As part of his plan, he applied for and obtained from the State Historic Preservation Office a designation of the AM&A buildings as a historic district. That prevents the historic portions from being torn down, while making the entire project eligible for historic tax credits. He said the AM&A’s project, the Statler Towers and the 500 block of Main Street should be priorities for redevelopment efforts downtown. But he acknowledged the challenge posed by the AM&A’s store, which has been the biggest hurdle in any redevelopment effort for the long vacant but highly visible cluster of buildings.

Termini, through his Signature Development Buffalo LLC firm, started work a month ago on his $11 million effort to turn three of the four former AM&A warehouse buildings at 369 Washington Street into 65,000 square feet of residential and commercial space. The five-story buildings were full of debris and asbestos, but workers have mostly taken out the trash in the last four weeks and are finishing up asbestos removal. Construction work will begin in one to two weeks, he said. The architect on the project is Carmina Wood Morris PC.

Termini is planning to convert the buildings into 48 apartments, a collections office and a surface parking lot. Plans call for 36 one-bedroom apartments and 12 with two bedrooms. The first floor will be 15,000 square feet of office space, which will be occupied by P&B Acquisitions, which owns the Philips & Burns debt collection agency. The fourth building, a three-story addition on East Eagle Street built in 1965, will be torn down and converted into 26 parking spaces.

Termini said he hopes to open the project by next March or April, and to be fully occupied on the first day. Already, he said, there are 15 people on the waiting list for apartments. The one-bedroom apartments will be priced at $795 a month, while the two-bedrooms will go for $995 a month.

The cluster of AM&A buildings date back to 1886, when the J. N. Adam & Co. Department Store opened as a dry-goods store before expanding later into a broader department store. The buildings later became the flagship store of Adam, Meldrum & Anderson Co., a family-owned chain of department stores based in Buffalo that was sold in 1994 to Bon- Ton Stores.

A year later, the department store closed, reopening for only a few months in 1998 as an upscale women’s department store and restaurant before closing again. It has been vacant since early 1999, and has become an eyesore downtown, deteriorating over the years and threatened with demolition.

Various plans emerged and the buildings were even acquired by out-of-town developer New Horizons Acquisitions LLC in September 2006 for $2.05 million, with the intention of converting them into apartments and ground-floor retail. But none of the concepts progressed until Termini bought the warehouses. He is now negotiating with New Horizons to buy the store as well. Termini is already a veteran of converting vacant downtown spaces into loft apartments, having developed the IS Lofts, Ellicott Lofts, Ellicott Commons, Oak School, Webb Lofts and Oak Street Apartments." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal for this project in 2008. 

The Buffalo News
June 2009


Loft Project Under Way at AM&A's Warehouse

"Work has started on downtown Buffalo's newest residential-based project. Developer Rocco Termini has crews working on interior demolition efforts, as well as asbestos removal, in the former Adam Meldrum & Anderson Co. Inc. warehouse on Washington Street. The century-old building is being renovated into a mixed-use complex, anchored by 48 market-rate apartments. P&B Acquisitions, a local debt collections agency, is leased all 15,000 square feet of the building's office space. With the move, P&B hopes to add 50 employees to its 120-person workforce.

Termini has been securing financing and approvals for the $11 million project for nearly two years. That includes incentives offered by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency through its adaptive re-use program and New York State Housing Tax Credits.

Dubbed the AM&A's Lofts after the building's former tenant, the eight-story structure has been vacant for nearly 15 years. It was closed when the Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which acquired the AM&A's chain in 1993, closed the flagship Buffalo department store and the warehouse. The store and warehouse are connected via a tunnel that cuts underneath Washington Street. AM&A's Lofts will have 36 one-bedroom units and a dozen two-bedroom units. Monthly rents will range from $795 to $1,050.

It's the latest in a series of residential-fueled downtown projects that Termini has completed in recent years, including developments along Ellicott, Oak and Pearl Streets. Termini said he remains interested in buying and renovating the AM&A's flagship store, but only if he can secure tax credits and incentives from New York State." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal for this project in 2008. 

Buffalo Business First
June 2009


Omni Housing Development and The Wesley Community Continue $18 Million Rehab of the Embury Apartments

"Saratoga Springs, New York: Mayor Scott Johnson and NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal commissioner Deborah VanAmerongen along with a representative of governor David Paterson and state legislators joined Duncan Barrett, COO, Omni Housing Development LLC and Brian Nealon, CEO of The Wesley Community in sledge hammering a wall to continue the $18 million rehabilitation of Embury Apartments on April 7. Embury Apartments, Inc., the non-profit group who has been the owner and property manager of the site since originally constructed on the campus of The Wesley Community over 35 years ago, along with current co-developer Omni Housing Development LLC anticipates completion of the project by summer 2010. After the "Wall Demolition Ceremony", officials toured existing, gutted and rehabilitated units to see the buildings' transformation.

Embury's twin, 14-story towers helped to redefine housing opportunities for area seniors when they were completed in 1972. Originally conceived by the founders of the Saratoga Retirement Center, the forerunner to the modern-day Wesley Community, The Embury towers offered subsidized, independent living for active seniors aged 62 and older. One year later, the towers were joined by the addition of the Wesley Nursing Home to provide Embury residents easy access to health care services and social activities.

Today, the apartment towers and its residents are part of the broader Wesley Community, a 36-acre not-for-profit agency, which serves the needs of the elderly, active seniors, adults and pediatrics. Residency is for those seniors with incomes restricted and regulated under the NYS Mitchell Lama Programs well as HUD's Sec. 236 Interest Reduction and Rent Supplement Programs.

Although the apartment complex has been well maintained and managed, its original design and age have resulted in escalating utility and maintenance costs, which now exceed the restricted and regulated rent revenue. Embury's two towers, which are connected by a community building, require rehabilitation and regulatory restructuring. The renovation will enable Embury to operate cost effectively and allow rents to remain affordable. Residents of the current 208 apartments will be relocated within the complex as a few floors at a time are rehabilitated.

At the conclusion of the work the total number of units will be reduced to 192 with as many as 16 two-bedroom units available for the first time, replacing 32 studio dwellings. Each apartment will feature Energy Star appliances.

The rehabilitation will address fire safety, environmental hazards, energy conservation, dated and obsolete systems and standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, including converting several units to better serve the handicapped. To remedy these conditions, the revitalization will include: removal of the asbestos flooring, replacement of all windows and insulation of the inside of all exterior walls and installation of handrails as well as ADA compliant bathrooms in the public areas. CK Dennis Architects will be providing design, architecture and engineering services for the project. Omni Housing Development will lead development and construction management and MLS construction Services, LLC is the general contractor. Embury Apartments, Inc. will provide property management services.

Financing for the $18 million rehabilitation project is provided by the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, Embury Apartments, Inc., Community Preservation Corp., M&T Bank, Hudson Housing Capital and grants from the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study for this project in 2007. 

Capital Region/Hudson Valley Real Estate Journal
May 2009

Plans For River Park Commons Signal Future Growth

"With Conifer Realty LLC's plan for River Park Commons on Mount Hope Avenue now imminent, South Wedge organizers and merchants say they look forward to the property's extreme makeover and its prospect to spur development nearby. Central to Confier's plan for the seven-acre parcel at 185-405 Mount Hope Avenue is the razing of four low-rise buildings, making way for 130 market rate and affordable flats and townhouses. The developer will rename those units Erie Harbor. Built in 1975 as subsidized housing, River Park Commons will undergo its first phase of demolition this spring. The plan calls for replacing the failing low-rise buildings, significantly refurbishing the existing tower and improving access to the Genesee River." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a real estate appraisal of this property in November 2007.

Rochester Business Journal
December 12, 2008

Former YWCA Housing Upgraded For Senior Living

"A former YMCA women's residence in Buffalo is now home to local seniors. E Square Capital has completed its conversion of the stately, circa-1926 complex to 63 studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors. E Square, whose residential portfolio includes the Holling Press Apartments in downtown Buffalo and is doing another senior housing project at 937 Broadway, began welcoming tenants at the former "Y" this month. Empty since 2005, the five-story, 100,000 square foot structure, with its distinctive brick and pillared facade, began life as a women-only residence for short-term local tenants and visitors. Located at 245 North Street, the Georgian-style building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was most recently used by the New York State Health Department to house women with mental health problems. E Square President Eran Epstein said his $9 million project returns the historic site to productive use." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a real estate appraisal of this property in May 2006.

Rochester Business Journal
December 12, 2008

A.D. Price Housing Complex Rehab Widens

"One of Buffalo's oldest public housing campuses is headed into a second round of redevelopment. The Buffalo Planning Board today will hear a proposal to demolish five building at the A.D. Price complex at 390 Jefferson Ave. to make way for a new $15 million senior housing building. A preliminary timetable calls for the new, three-story senior complex to be under construction next summer with a fall 2010 completion date. The 95-unit structure will have 83, one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom apartments reserved for low-income seniors. The new senior apartment building will be constructed incorporating "green" building practices to increase energy efficiencies and reduce waste. In addition to city approvals, the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority project is awaiting word on state and federal funding applications." M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study for this project in 2007. 

The Buffalo News
October 2008

Developer To Close To Deal On AM&A's Warehouse

"Developer Rocco Termini wants to convert the former Adam, Meldrum & Anderson Co. Inc. warehouse complex into market rate apartments.  Termini confirmed this week that he has put the five-story, 90,000 sq.ft. Washington Street building under contract.  The building is owned by New Horizons Acquisitions LLC, a Long Island company that bough the warehouse and the long-vacant former AM&A's flagship store on Main Street in 2006.  Termini did not reveal the price tag of the acquisition." Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. is currently working on the appraisal for this property.

Business First
August 2008

Apartment Complex Goes To School

"Mark Chason isn't hanging onto the past.  The Cheektowaga-based developer is edging closer to finalizing the sale of 144 apartment buildings to WNY Student Housing, a limited liability corporation established by Villa Maria College that will provide off-campus housing to area college students.  Formerly known as Kensington Village and located on the Buffalo-Cheektowaga border, the 50-acre site now called Collegiate Village has been part of Chason's family real estate portfolio since 1950, when his grandfather bough the then-undeveloped field at auction.  About 30 new or transfer students plan to live at Collegiate Village this fall. "  Gerald T. Schmitt and Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. appraised this property in early 2008.

Business First
August 2008

Housing Project Hinges on Assortment of Approvals


"If the public-sector stars line up just right, work could begin soon on the conversion of a vacant Buffalo bowling alley into a $36 million housing project.  Developer John Giardino of Centerstone Development LLC said he is working with state, local and federal offices to obtain necessary approvals to move tenants of the Lyndon B. Johnson Apartments to a new, low-rise housing complex on Amherst Street.  The site is the abandoned Amherst Bowling Alley.  The apartments are owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.  The property located at the corner of Main Street and Humboldt Parkway, likely will be sold to neighboring Medaille College for $3.5 million, which is the appraised value. "  Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. is currently working on a market study for this development.

Buffalo Business First
July 2008

Buffalo Builders 'Drum' Up Business

"The population of Fort Drum is booming, and two Buffalo-area developers are helping fill a need for more off-post housing.  Clover Construction Management of Amherst and Norstar Development USA of Buffalo have a total of four projects either built or planned in the Watertown area that add up to more than 1,100 apartment and townhome units.  Clover has the largest single project of the four:  a $70 million, 648-unit project called Eagle Ridge Townhomes.  Clover is in the midst of building the first phase, consisting of 218 units, and has opened 20 so far.  Norstar last year opened the 91-unit Starwood Apartments and has two other projects in the works.  Starwood is about 90 percent occupied.  The surge in off-post housing has been fueled by a rising number of troops assigned to Fort Drum, home of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.  A study commissioned a few years ago determined that following the addition of third brigade to Fort Drum, there was a need for 2,000 units of additional off-base housing beyond new quarters built on the base.  Of the 2,000-unit need identified by the study, about 1,800 to 1,900 units have either been built or are in production."  In 2006, Scott Allen and David Carlon of GAR Associates, Inc., completed a market study of the Fort Drum project.  In 2005, Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and a market study of the Starwood Apartments.

The Buffalo News
January 2008

Building Blocks:  Omni Affordable Housing Group Does Well By Doing Good

"Eight years ago, Omni Development Co. Inc. sensed a need for affordable housing and went about trying to fill it.  The Albany-based commercial real estate developer, one of the largest in the region, had plenty of experience building, designing and managing big buildings for a variety of clients.  But it recognized the demographics of the region were changing in a way that would demand more low-cost housing for senior citizens.  "Providing good, affordable senior housing is both good public policy and good economic policy," Omni President and Chief Operating Officer I. David Swawite once told local chamber of commerce officials.  Omni hired an expert in the field, J. Duncan Barrett, to carry out the mission.  Barrett spent 20 years in charge of Taconic Capital Corp., a firm that managed, built and acted as compliance officer for several housing projects in the region that serve low-income senior citizens, the homeless and others.  Those include the 44-unit Caldwell Apartments in Troy, the 28-unit Civill Senior Housing in Coeymans and the 140-unit Dudley Park Apartments in Albany.  Omni is currently redeveloping 206 more units, including 52 in Albany's South End, a neighborhood that has suffered for years from violent crime and neglect.  Omni has an interest in improving the neighborhood because it's near the company's commercial investments downtown.  On a personal level, the South End is close to Barrett's heart because it reminds him of sections of Troy where he worked in the early 1970s.  Under the $12 million plan, a rundown, 60-unit apartment building at Morton Avenue and Eagle Street will be converted into 42 units.  And, a 10-unit apartment complex will be built on a vacant parcel three blocks away.  The housing will be available to people who earn less than $27,840 for a single person and $39,780 for a family of four, which is less than 60 percent of the median household income in the region."  In 2007, Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed a market study for Albany's South End project.

The Business Review
November 2007