“LPCiminelli Seeks Variances for 123 More Units at Former Central Park Plaza”

As work continues on the first phase of the new Highland Park Village in Buffalo, LPCiminelli is now poised to start the second phase of the project, pending city approval.

The developer – owned by Louis Ciminelli – is planning to construct another 123 residential units just east of Holden Street, on the south side of part of the newly rebuilt Chalmers Avenue. It’s working with Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. – owned by Louis’ brother, Paul – as an advisor on the project.

The site is part of the 27.1-acre former Central Park Plaza that LPCiminelli is converting into a new housing community after decades as a retail shopping center and previously an industrial site. It’s just south of two sets of town houses and one apartment building that were approved as part of the first phase.

According to the application submitted to the city, plans by architectural firm HHL Architects and engineering firm Wendel call for 39 two-story townhouses, 19 single-family homes and five 13-unit apartment buildings, on 6.67 acres. Each three-story apartment building will include four one-bedroom and one two-bedroom apartments on the ground floor that are handicapped-accessible, plus eight two-story units above them.

In all, that’s 71,285 square feet of new building space, according to the application. The single-family homes range in size from 1,333 square feet to 1,810 square feet.

Tenants in the rental apartments and attached town houses will have 211 off-street parking spaces available, while the single-family homes will each have a driveway with garage parking, the application said. There will also be 14 short-term and 12 long-term bicycle parking spaces.

The $35 million second-stage project also includes more than 70,000 square feet of public park space, according to the application, while landscaping will include grass, ground cover, trees and shrubs.

The building facades features multicolored fiber-cement trim and siding to break up the appearance. The building heights top out at 35 feet and two inches for the town houses and just shy of 50 feet for the apartment buildings, according to the application. The apartment building floor heights will be 11 feet, except where a change in the ground level increases that to 15 feet.

Construction would begin in August and could last up to three years. As part of the second phase, LPCiminelli will also complete construction of a portion of Hill Street, which will then be returned to the city’s ownership.

“This project is a significant improvement for the entire neighborhood,” wrote attorney Marc A. Romanowski of Hopkins Sorgi & Romanowski, representing the developers, in a letter accompanying the application. “It re-establishes a former street grid and brings residential development into an area where a dilapidated plaza once stood. The addition of new residential development in this area of the city will create much-needed new housing opportunities.”

The developer is seeking four variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the level of transparency or windows in the town houses, the lack of a parking lot perimeter buffer, the width of driveways and a shortage of street trees in front of some buildings. The project will also need Planning Board approval before the developer can proceed. A public hearing at the Planning Board has been scheduled for May 21.

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