Brisk condo sales underway at Bethune Lofts

Buffalo Next

Almost 45% of 87 apartments sold so far at former water meter factory

Nearly 45% of the 87 market-rate apartments at the four-story building have now been sold, as Ciminelli and its brokers at 716 Realty Group seek to convert the entire building into individual ownership. The process began earlier this year, and 39 condos have either sold or are now under contract, indicating strong interest in residential ownership in a city that has not traditionally had a large condo market.

The one- and two-bedroom units are priced between $145,000 and $305,000 range, depending on each unit’s unique features.

“The condominium market has remained strong from listing earlier this year through the summer months,” said 716 Realty associate broker Steven Persico. “We continue to have numerous showings every week and positive feedback from everyone that has come to see the property.”

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Persico said the developer and 716 Realty had expected about 10% of the previous renters to buy their own units, but only five people have actually done so.

“By the time the financing came up, a lot of people couldn’t get approved,” he said. “They just didn’t have the credit history.”

Located at 2917 Main St., the 110,000-square-foot building was originally designed and constructed for The Buffalo Meter Co. by the Lockwood Green & Co. engineering firm in 1915-1917. The reinforced concrete building with a red brick facade features a three-story addition built in 1945, a two-story addition built in 1949, a raised basement and a fifth-floor penthouse.

It housed Buffalo Meter until 1970, after which the building was acquired by University at Buffalo for its art and architecture students. It was renamed Bethune Hall, after prominent local architect Louise Blanchard Bethune. But it became outdated by the 1990s, when UB moved out.

Ciminelli bought it in 2013 and spent $15.6 million to renovate the building into 87 market-rate apartments, with 27 different layouts, in one of the earlier significant adaptive-reuse projects before such ventures became commonplace.

“It’s been a really exciting time going through the process of converting the building, our first residential redevelopment, to not only fill the clear demand in Buffalo’s housing market, but to create value for our investors, as well,” Ciminelli Executive Vice President Kyle Ciminelli said.

– Jonathan D. Epstein

Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News will bring you the latest coverage on the changing Buffalo Niagara economy – from real estate to health care to startups.


Silver Lake Meadows

Big cities aren’t the only target of affordable housing renovations.

A 45-year-old development in Wyoming County’s Village of Perry has been fully renovated and upgraded, after a multi-million-dollar investment led by Wyoming County Community Action Inc. and Rochester-based Cornerstone Group.

Silver Lake Meadows, a seven-building campus with 52 apartments, received a full rehab that included kitchen upgrades for each unit, a community recreation area, installation of new gutters, windows and siding, a new roof, new lampposts with LED lighting, electric-vehicle charging stations and new sidewalks. The project also followed New York State Energy Research and Development Authority standards to reduce overall utility use by 22%.

Built in 1978 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Section 515 program, Silver Lake Meadows is affordable for households earning at or below 60% of the area median income. All household renters receive project-based assistance through the USDA program to cover rent, and the renovation will ensure long-term affordability in the rural community, officials said in a press release.

“Securing quality, modern, affordable housing for the people we serve continues to be one of the biggest challenges we face in our rural community,” Wyoming County Community Action Executive Director Carrie Johnson said. “We are very grateful and proud of the advocacy and partnership with Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, and the various federal, state and local agencies that worked very hard to turn this beautiful rehab into reality.”

The project was funded with $5.1 million in low-income housing tax credits, a $930,000 subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal, $36,400 in funding from NYSERDA and additional financing from the Federal Home Loan Bank and Rose Community Capital.

“In order to address our state’s housing shortage, it is essential that we protect and preserve our existing supply of affordable homes across all of our communities,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a release. “Our investment in Silver Lake Meadows will ensure this development remains accessible and affordable for the Wyoming County community for decades to come.”

“Our investment in the 45-year-old Silver Lake Meadows development ensures that these homes will remain a safe and comfortable place to live, and, importantly, provides an affordable housing option for over 50 families in Wyoming County for years to come,” Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said.


Here’s a look at what’s happening in the suburbs

In Niagara County, Michael Rotella wants to construct two 5,000-square-foot light industrial buildings with 13 separate commercial units, using a 3.51-acre property at 7431 Porter Road in the Town of Niagara. It is the latest example of similar small multi-tenant commercial or industrial buildings. Also in Niagara and just down the street, Norgen Biotek Corp. wants to combine lots and build a 2,780-square-foot addition to an existing structure for storage and warehousing of products, at 7311 Porter Road.

Meanwhile, in the Town of Lockport, Benderson Development Co. is seeking approval and an area variance to redevelop an existing building at 6009 South Transit Road into a medical facility. The project includes a partial demolition and a 12,326-square-foot addition on the 3.23-acre property.

In Orchard Park, Cornell Cooperative Extension wants to construct an 8,700-square-foot single-story building for educational and office space, along with parking, on vacant land on Burton Road at Powers Road. And Arch Cutting Tools wants to build a 4,200-square-foot warehouse addition to the existing facility at 5720 Ellis Road, along with additional employee parking, on the property on the north side of the street that used to be North American Carbide.

Nearby, the Broadway Group LLC hopes to construct a new Dollar General retail store at Camp Road in the Town of Hamburg, while car-wash developer Royal Wash Development LLC is seeking the rezoning of a 0.75-acre lot at 3231 and 3233 Lake Shore Road. And Fisher Rental Properties LLC plans to put up a pair of 9,000-square-foot warehouses at 5173 Southwestern Blvd.


A troubled Buffalo nursing home is a candidate for a program targeting the nation’s poorest-performing facilities.

Affordable housing developers are collaborating on a $25 million revamp project of Playter Street.

Deadline to apply for pot licenses extended by two weeks, while enforcement of illegal sales expands.

The five 43North winners have high hopes for their time in Buffalo.

UB is getting a big donation to help build its new engineering building.

MacKenzie Scott is coming through for Neighborhood Health.

A developer wants tax breaks for a “luxury” apartment project in North Tonawanda.

Steve Case says cities need to step up their efforts to help startups.

controversial Lockport plastics plant gets tax breaks from IDA.

The 43North semifinalists were focused on Buffalo.

What can Buffalo Sabres fans expect at the concession stand this season?

The developer of a big Amherst apartment complex wants more than $2.1 million in tax breaks.

The developer of a closed Buffalo nursing home says it needs tax breaks for the project to proceed.

The owner of the Buffalo Grand Hotel is facing a big fine from Ontario securities regulators.

A big apartment project on Transit Road is starting to open.

The fallout from the UAW strike is spreading to GM’s plant in Lockport.

Robert E. Rich Jr. is the highest ranking local person on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans.

Spectrum is offering set top boxes to turn ‘dumb’ TVs into smart ones – for a price.

It won’t cost nearly as much to turn up the thermostat this winter.

The state is making big changes to the struggling legal pot market.

The new Niagara County hospital opened last week.

An Oishei Children’s Hospital nurse is accused of possessing child sex abuse images.

The LaSalle Street Station redevelopment project now includes more land.

Want to buy a college campus? There’s one for sale in Buffalo.

Dunn Tire has a new owner.

Developer Douglas Jemal wants to use tax payments for downtown improvements.

A comic book store is closing its two Buffalo Niagara locations.

A Town of Tonawanda manufacturer says its expansion could expand.

The ECIDA is debating clawbacks for two companies that didn’t meet job targets.

Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. As the United Auto Workers’ strike against the Detroit Three automakers enters its second month, local autoworkers are waiting to see if they will be directed to walk out.

2. How Western New York colleges are adapting to a shrinking student population.

3. How Mighty Taco grew into a Buffalo food icon.

4.  In ‘tipping point,’ Buffalo’s tourism market emerges from Niagara Falls’ shadow.

5. Kaleida wants to build a new hospital in Fredonia, but getting money for it has been difficult.

The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to or reach Buffalo Next Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.

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