“Ciminelli Plans to Demolish Manhattan Avenue Warehouse”

Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. wants city permission to demolish a nearly century-old office and warehouse building at the Manhattan Avenue site where the company got its start more than three decades ago.

The Amherst-based developer – which is moving its corporate headquarters to Buffalo – has applied to the Preservation Board for permission to take down a deteriorating one-story brick building at 135 Manhattan Ave.

The warehouse is part of a 42,000-square-foot industrial complex that is owned by the estate of Frank L. Ciminelli Sr., the founder of the predecessor company to Ciminelli Real Estate who died in late 2014. It’s also the property where the development company got its start in a trailer in 1981.

Constructed in 1920 and designed by Conway Scheid, the office and warehouse building the company plans to demolish has a clay brick facade and a flat roof, but the company says it is not historically significant or a landmark, according to the application. It’s also empty of tenants.

According to a letter to the Preservation Board from Ciminelli Property Manager A. Jack Osler, the roof has “numerous holes” that expose the interior to the weather, and it also holds some heavy HVAC equipment that “will and can fall at any time.” The clay brick facade also has “deteriorated to the point of causing structural damage,”

An accompanying evaluation by Siracuse Engineers cited cracked and displaced brick at the northwest and southwest corners of the office portion, saturated walls in two warehouse portions following heavy rain in July, and both cracks and missing face shells from clay tiles in a third warehouse section. Part of the wood-plank roof also has collapsed from moisture, while other parts are rotted and unsafe for workers to use, according to the report by Siracuse President Dale T. Cich.

“The property is vacant and in its present state, presents a danger of collapsing in on itself,” Osler wrote. “In this condition, it is a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood, and it would be difficult to secure properly from any curious or unsavory elements.”

Because of the building’s age, the Preservation Board’s approval is required before it can be demolished, said Ciminelli spokeswoman Anne Duggan. There are no plans for redevelopment at the site, she added.

The application does not affect the rest of the industrial complex, which is largely composed of structural steel and block. It includes 12- to 14-foot ceilings, six raised loading docks, two overhead doors and 2 acres of parking.

The manufacturing site is adjacent to the 27-acre former Central Park Plaza property that LPCiminelli and Ciminell Real Estate are converting into the new Highland Park neighborhood.

Designed by HHL Architects, the overall $100 million plan calls for a mix of apartments, walk-up flats and townhomes, with as many as 717 residential units constructed over five years.

Duggan said there’s also no connection between Highland Park and the industrial property, other than proximity.

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