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Swan Street Railyard

Lazarus Industries, Frontier Group bring back Swan Street Railyard project in Larkinville

By February 9, 2023No Comments

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A contractor and the developers of the Seneca Street Lofts and 500 Seneca projects are planning $17 million to $20 million venture that would bring 62 apartments, commercial space and two warehouses to a vacant site west of Larkinville. More than a year after proposing what was then a $15 million project, Frank Lazarus of Lazarus Industries and the principals of Frontier Group of Companies have fine-tuned their plans for a redevelopment of 3.7 acres of former rail yard land at the foot of Jefferson Avenue, where it ends at Myrtle Avenue.

Located at both 567 Swan and 592 Seneca, the triangular property is across Jefferson from Frontier’s Seneca Street Lofts at 550 Seneca, as well as the AP Lofts at Larkinville, which were developed by another company. Both of those projects redeveloped old but underused industrial warehouses, creating new apartments and commercial space, and Lazarus and Frontier want to duplicate that success with their initiative. In particular, the developers said the venture will result in reuse of a “historically vacant property,” while boosting property tax revenues and jobs, offering “a new, unique housing alternative to this part of the city,” and including “desirable lifestyle and community amenities.”

“The Project will invigorate the Swan-Jefferson Neighborhood, provide additional housing diversity that complements the eclectic make-up of the rapidly developing neighborhood, create both construction and long-term employment opportunities, encourage use of multi-modal transportation options, and activate the streetscape,” the development team said in their site plan application to the city.

The Swan Street Railyard team wants to put up a three-story, interconnected building at the corner of Jefferson and Swan. The L-shaped building would feature 28 one-bedroom apartments and 34 two-bedroom units on the second and third floors, at prices ranging from $650 to $1,350 per month. Those are aimed at “urban families, professionals, empty-nesters and active seniors,” the developers said. The apartments will feature quartz or granite countertops, upgraded appliances and high-efficiency mechanicals, high-end cabinetry, and 10-foot ceilings. Each apartment would have semi-private patios or balconies with room for a table and two chairs, while additional amenities will include outdoor seating, grilling stations and “gathering spaces.”

The 108,000-square-foot building would also include seven ground-floor commercial spaces along Swan and Jefferson, starting at 2,000 square feet, but totaling 36,000 square feet. That’s targeted at commercial, medical, office and restaurant tenants., with the site plan application citing potential for “tech companies, a dentist office, an insurance agency, a yoga studio, a boutique clothing store, an art gallery, a restaurant/brewery or a bike repair shop.” According to the application, the building facade would have stacked stone, fiber-cement siding, metal wall paneling, and aluminum storefront glass. Open-air walkways would serve commercial spaces along the street, allowing for outdoor seating directly outside the businesses. The businesses will have large glass entrances and storefronts along the walkways, with “unobstructed views” inside, overhead signage for each tenant and architectural lighting.

Meanwhile, a central interior courtyard, corridors and multiple elevators would serve the apartment tenants, with a continuous skylight for natural lighting. The project also would feature a detached 12,900-square-foot warehouse building with two light manufacturing spaces, to be constructed diagonally across the opposite end of the property, along the CSX Corp. railroad right-of-way and tracks. That long single-story building would feature metal panels, two overhead entrances and long glass window facades. A total of 66 surface parking spaces – up from 55 previously – are envisioned at 567 and 588 Swan, including between the two buildings and through easements granted by Frontier to allow the Seneca Street Lofts and Swan Street Railyard to share and maximize their parking. Those will be accessible from Swan and Jefferson. Bicycle racks will also be provided for 35 parking spaces. Walkways will connect to paths and public sidewalks.

The property was rezoned as a “secondary employment center” to enable the project, but the developers are still seeking a zoning variance for a 20.3-foot setback for the warehouse, allowing for enough turnaround space for truck traffic coming in and out of the site. That change would also enable enough space for snow removal, while preserving enough greenspace on the property to meet landscaping requirements and partially conceal the warehouse. However, the main building in front would comply with the 5-foot setback in the Green Code. Site plan approval is also needed from the Buffalo Planning Board, which reviewed the project Monday night for environmental impact but can’t give final approval until after the Zoning Board of Appeals Acts.

Designed by Ryan S. Renshaw of Schenne & Associates, the project would be constructed by Lazarus over 18 months, from May 2023 to November 2024.