“Plans to Build Residential Units at Central Park Plaza Advance”

The first phase of a new residential development where Central Park Plaza once stood is moving onto the next stage of the approval process, while a presentation about expanding Tapestry Charter School was postponed.

On Monday, the Buffalo Planning Board reviewed the proposal for the new housing project at the former Central Park Plaza, dubbed Highland Park Village.

Developers presented details of Phase One – to build the first of a series of apartment buildings and townhomes on the north and south sides of an extension of Chalmers Avenue at Holden Street.

It’s the start of what would be a five-year, $100 million effort by Ciminelli Real Estate to bring hundreds of new residents to a 27-acre area of east of Main Street that is now mostly vacant land.

The initial phase is estimated to cost $13.5 million, said Marc A. Romanowski, the attorney representing the developers.

It features four three-story apartment buildings with 13 units each, for a total of 52 one- and two-bedroom apartments that will occupy 3.9 acres.

Phase One also would include 32 single-family attached townhome units with a mix of two- and three-bedroom designs, ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. The townhomes also will have garage parking and will be priced between $200,000 and $230,000.

The buildings would be a blend of red brick veneer, fiber cement siding and other materials, with colors including gray, blue, tan and green. The plan also includes 25,000 square feet of public park space, landscaping, a playground and play area, street improvements and bike racks, in keeping with Green Code requirements.

Paula Lewis, a nearby resident, asked during a public comment portion of the meeting if any apartments would be allocated for senior citizens.

Romanowski said there are no special provisions for senior citizens, but the rents will make the units accessible to them.

“They’re not upper market rate. A two bedroom unit will be about $1,000 or $1,400 a month on the high side. The market rate is $1,500 and up,” Romanowski said.

The development firm owned by Paul Ciminelli is acting on behalf of the project’s primary owner, Louis Ciminelli, who ran LP Ciminelli until he resigned in February.

Louis Ciminelli and his partners purchased and demolished the derelict shopping plaza and then cleaned and cleared the site under the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.

Designed by HHL Architects, the overall plan calls for a mix of apartments, walk-up flats and townhomes, with as many as 717 residential units. It will include mixed-income, affordable and market-rate units. Some will be for rent, while others will be sold. Single-family detached homes are also a possibility in future phases.

Phase One now moves onto the Zoning Board of Appeals for two zoning variances needed to complete the project.

In other business, a presentation to the Planning Board on a proposal to expand Tapestry Charter School was postponed at the applicant’s request until the Planning Board’s next meeting on April 24.

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