News

August 19th, 2014

Elmwood plan calls for upscale apartments, ‘Rocco-themed’ restaurant

Via The Buffalo News
By Mark Sommer

A spot where Elmwood Village residents pump gasoline and buy groceries could be transformed by a developer into a place for dining, shopping and upscale living.

Plans were presented to the public Monday night for a four-story, L-shaped building with 21 high-end apartments, a locally operated restaurant and a yet to be specified retailer at Elmwood and West Delavan avenues. Ellicott Development Co. presented the information at a public meeting in the Buffalo History Museum.

The building at 905 Elmwood would replace the Elm-wood-Delavan Food Mart, which also sells gasoline. The proposed 44,000-square-foot building would cost between $8 million and $9 million, and have a modern look dominated by charcoal brick, glass and wood, said Thomas M. Fox, Ellicott’s director of development.

William A. Paladino, the company’s CEO, said the exterior is intended to tie into and enhance the surrounding area.

“I live in the neighborhood, and I think this is an opportunity to clean up a corner that has been an eyesore for a long period of time,” Paladino said. “We think the design of the building, including elements and materials, fits in with the design of the surrounding properties and neighborhood. We have vertically separated the building to look like different buildings.”

Citing the improvement that the development would bring, Fox said, “It’s a hole along Elmwood Avenue, and we want to refresh it and bring something new, bring something with a lot of activity. That will just only feed along Elmwood Avenue with the other businesses and other activity that’s going on.”

The building’s second, third and fourth floors would include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The first floor would consist of 5,000 square feet of restaurant space and 1,500 square feet of retail space.

Parking – about 27 spaces – would be behind the building and also under a portion of the building along West Delavan.

The restaurant, named Gianni’s, would be operated by Henry C. Gorino, former owner of Oliver’s, and Charles F. Mauro, operator of suburban restaurants that include Rocco’s Wood-Fired Pizza in Clarence and 800 Maple in Amherst.

“It will be like a Rocco-themed restaurant,” Paladino said.

Developers will submit an application to the Buffalo Planning Board later this week and present their plans at the Sept. 6 meeting. If they receive approval, they hope to break ground by the end of the year and have the project completed by the end of 2015 or early 2016, Fox said.

Cleaning up the site presents environmental challenges. “We have a brownfield area to clean up. There are a lot of environmental investigations to do, and it’s not yet a done deal.” Paladino said, although he remains confident enough to present the development proposal to the public.

During the public comment portion of Monday’s presentation, some community members expressed concern about the limited amount of parking at the site and potential noise from a large restaurant.

Deborah Williams took issue with the proposed building’s size. “The building is massive,” she said. “Maybe it just looks so big with it so dark and gray that it looks just like a massive, gray box. … It’s going to substantially change the character of the neighborhood.”

Others said any development would be an improvement.

“Well, the renderings look massively better than what’s there,” David Cress said.

Two owners of businesses across the street from the site offered support for the project.

“I think I’m going to be looking forward to looking at this building,” said David Drost, owner of Evolation Yoga.

Said Robert Nehin, who owns BikeorBar, “Elmwood Avenue connects the city, the downtown and the suburbs. It is the byway of commerce in the city. This property … has been a site of drug sales, panhandling. It has been the dregs of the community, and we need to be able to bring commerce and money so people can survive in a city.”

See Buffalo Rising Article

August 19th, 2014

Big Reveal: Infill Project at Elmwood and Delavan

Via Buffalo Rising
By WCPerspective

Ellicott Development and Local Boys Restaurant Group discussed their plans to replace the Elmwood-Delavan Food Mart with a four-story mixed-use building this evening. The public workshop on the project was sponsored by the Elmwood Village Association and Delaware District Council Member Michael LoCurto. The Food Mart is located at the southeast corner of Elmwood and Delavan avenues.

The ‘L’ shaped building will bring a dose of modern architecture to Elmwood.  It will step down to three levels at the south end of the building along Elmwood and the east end of the building along Delavan.

elmwood2

Plans call for a restaurant operated by Henry Gorino, retail space, and 21 apartments.   An enclosed patio will be located on the second floor and some apartments will have deck or patio space.  Parking will be located behind the building and accessed from Delavan Avenue.  Kideney Architects is designing the project.

The City Planning Board must sign-off on the plans and the development team will need to remediate the gas station site before starting construction.

elmwood4

It will be the second gas station site to be redeveloped along Elmwood.  Uniland Development removed the Valero at S. Elmwood and W. Chippewa for its 250 Delaware Avenue project.

Elmwood has seen a number of infill projects in recent years including:

  • 305 W. Utica – Two, nine-unit apartment buildings.  Paul Johnson, Michael Ferdman and Karl Frizlen.  Completed: 2011
  • 448 Elmwood – Three-story mixed use including retail space plus 12 apartments.  The Krog Corp., Michael Ferdman and Karl Frizlen.  Completed: 2011
  • 504 Elmwood – Four-level mixed-use building including retail space and eight apartments.  Paul Johnson, Michael Ferdman and Karl Frizlen.  Completed: 2006
  • 766 Elmwood – Three-story infill building with retail space and 24 apartments.  Benchmark Group.  Underway.
  • 1095-1121 Elmwood – Eight-story building combing retail, a boutique hotel with 125 rooms, enclosed parking for 160 cars, and 20 upper-floor condominiums.  Chason Infinity.  Planned.

August 13th, 2014

Paladino has big plans for track and rest of Fort Erie

Via Buffalo Business First
By James Fink

Fort Erie Race Track may eventually be surrounded by a hospitality and tourism-themed series of developments.

Buffalo developer Carl Paladino hinted as much during a Tuesday briefing that came just hours after he and his investment partners — local business leaders Joel Castle and Joseph Mosey — completed their deal to acquire 338 acres of land just off Queen Elizabeth Way. The land includes the 117-year-old track.

“I like the fact that they are building on what we already have here,” said Fort Erie Mayor Douglas Martin. “They and their plans are giving life back to this grand old lady. To me, this is the beginning of a new era for the track and for Fort Erie.”

While Paladino said development plans are preliminary, he expects whatever is constructed on the land will be hospitality and tourism-based in nature. That would dovetail off the race track and the $400 million Canadian Motorsport Speedway that’s expected to open within the next three years.

Paladino said that more definitive plans will likely be unveiled this fall, if not sooner.

“This isn’t something that’s just sitting there waiting for something else to happen,” Paladino said.

When pressed, Paladino thinks the entire project could be completed within “the next five or six years.”

The development should not only create jobs in Fort Erie, Paladino said he also hopes it is the catalyst for other private sector-fueled projects.

Fort Erie leaders want the track to go back to a 74-date schedule of live races, up from the 37 authorized for this year. They are also pushing leaders in Queen’s Park to allow the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to bring back slot machines to the track. Fort Erie lost its slot machine operations when OLGC removed them more than two years ago.

“All we are asking for is a level playing field,” said James Thibert, Fort Erie’s economic development chief. “Queen’s Park needs to understand that this track is so much more important to our community than what Woodbine (Track) means to Toronto. We view the track as an anchor for future development projects.”

The Paladino-led development consortium spent the past three years working on the sale agreement with the property’s immediate past owner, Israeli-based Nordic Gaming Corp., and also with Fort Erie officials.

While Paladino said he was open to selling off parcels to other developers, his focus is on the hospitality/tourism project.

“We’re developers,” he said. “We’re not investors. We hit the ground running every morning. People don’t understand just how important the Southern Canadian peninsula is to our city.”

August 13th, 2014

New track owners ‘want people to be encouraged’

Via Bullet News Niagara
By Kris Dube

FORT ERIE – The Fort Erie Race Track will be complimented with hospitality and tourism-focused development in the next five to six years, according to its new ownership.

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the development team that has recently purchased the 117-year-old track and its surrounding property was introduced to members of the media and local dignitaries.

Specific details were not provided about the new ownership’s vision for the property.

One of the developers involved in the takeover from Nordic Gaming, the track’s previous owner, is Carl Paladino, a well-known and highly respected businessman from Buffalo, N.Y.

He said the new team in place will elaborate further on its vision for the property in the very near future.

“There’s a more specific vision in there – which we’ll give you at a more appropriate time,” said Paladino, who did hint that major one or two-day events are part of the overall scope.

In previous years, the FELRC has leased the track property from Nordic Gaming for $400,000 annually.

The Buffalo-based developer, who ran for Governor of New York in 2010 but was defeated by Andrew Cuomo, said the plan to revitalize on the track’s property doesn’t depend on any other decisions by governments this side of the border – such as the return of slot machines.

“We buy things we feel are right at the time and we feel we can add value to,” said Paladino, the founder and chairman of Ellicott Development Company, a real-estate development company, founded in 1973.

The portions of vacant land that surround the track and its infield total approximately 200 acres and the entire property is 338 acres.

The Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium has operated the racetrack as a non-profit organization for the last five seasons. The provincial government has allocated approximately $7.9 million.

Paladino is partnered with Bill Mosey and Joel Castle, also businessmen from Buffalo, along with David Kompson, a developer with properties in Western New York and several in Fort Erie – mostly commercial plazas on Garrison Road.

He said their plans don’t involve a bailout for the cash-strapped facility, but are designed to support the attractiveness of the FELRC’s operations and create new opportunities for commerce at the site – while also working with the government to create a plan that allows for 74 race dates in a season.

“We want people to be encouraged that things are going to grow here,” he said.

Jim Thibert, chief executive officer of the FELRC and general manager of Fort Erie’s Economic Development and Tourism Corporation said bringing new ownership into the picture – with plans for redevelopment – should create bigger crowds and more money being spent at the historic facility.

“The track will act as an anchor for these developments – it’s a great synergy,” he said.

According to Thibert, seeing slot machines returned to the venue would also be another extraordinary compliment. He also claims it would cost “zero” dollars to reinstall them.

“It costs nothing to put them back,” said Thibert.

Paladino said the opportunities he and his colleagues were attracted to are “unbelievable,” such as the Canadian Motor Speedway, a 65,000-seat, $4 million development still in primary stages of construction only a few kilometres away on 823 acres of land near the Queen Elizabeth Way.

“That’s going to create all kinds of commerce,” said Paladino.

Mayor Doug Martin said he is thrilled to have investors who are familiar with Fort Erie.

“They’re local people that understand the dynamics of the area,” said Martin.

“We see this as a perfect fit for what we want to see done here,” he added.

No sale price has been listed for the track and on Tuesday – Paladino declined to discuss the amount for which it was purchased.