December 19, 2021
Article originally published at buffalonews.com
Jonathan D. Epstein
Construction contractor Frank Lazarus is teaming up with the developers behind the success of the Seneca Street Lofts and 500 Seneca on a mixed-use project that will combine a host of new residential tenants and commercial businesses on a vacant site that has spent most of its history as a railyard.
Lazarus is working with the principals of Frontier Group of Companies on a new $15 million plan to bring nearly 60 apartments – plus abundant flex space for commercial, industrial or even retail use – to a nearly triangular-shaped lot in Larkinville.
Plans for the proposed new Swan Street Railyard complex at 567 Swan are still in flux, as the developers are considering a couple of design options for the 3.7-acre site, which must also be rezoned before the project can proceed.
Both designs under consideration would be similar in their mix of uses, but one option would have two stories with a larger footprint, while the other would be three-stories, but would take up less of the ground. Both would include a second one-story building that would be entirely flex space, although in different locations on the property.
“We want to be upfront with the planning board about the two different options,” Lazarus said. “However, at this point, the way that things are progressing, it looks like the three-story is the option we are going to go with on the project.”The current overall concept calls for an L-shaped building with a ground floor of 36,452 square feet and two upper floors of 43,200 square feet each, which would hang over the two-way driveway from Swan.
The first-floor commercial space would be entirely flexible and would be marketed for retail, office, medical, warehouse and light manufacturing purposes. It’s designed with a modular footprint, so that dividing walls could be erected to break up the space to meet specific tenant needs or desires. Ceiling heights could vary from 16 to 22 feet.
“The beauty of the space is the flexibility to cater to one or all of those segments,” Lazarus explained.
The second and third floors of the main building would contain 58 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 600 to 1,200 square feet. The apartments would feature a blend of both affordable and market-rate rents ranging from $650 a month to $1,550, depending on the size of the unit, and the apartments would have private balconies.
The building would also include bicycle storage, laundry facilities, a fitness center, and meeting or common areas.
There’s no building on the site currently, and “we have not been able to find a building or any indication of a building as far back as records show,” Lazarus said. Rather, the property “has been historically a rail yard for as long back as we can find any history on it,” just servicing the industry that existed in that area. As a result, the site needs to be remediated before construction can begin, so the project would qualify for state brownfield tax credits. The rest of the funding would come from bank loans and Frontier’s equity. The project requires site plan approval from the Planning Board, but also a rezoning of the land from rail to “secondary employment center,” avoiding the need for multiple zoning variances. If approved, remediation and then construction could begin by early next year or mid-2022, with completion by summer 2023, after 14 months of work, Lazarus said.