By Jill Terreri
Developer Rocco Termini won Planning Board approval today for his renovation of the former FWS furniture store at 1738 Elmwood Ave., just south of Hertel Avenue. The board also approved plans for a Mighty Taco in the University District and expanded decks at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, and held off on approving plans for a scrap metal recycling facility in the West Hertel neighborhood.
Termini is planning to return the 1916 building to its former glory, removing the white-gray paint and replacing the windows, all under the watchful eye of the state Historic Preservation Office. The building will be put on the National Historic Register, he said. Plans for the building include 35 apartments, offices, and a restaurant. A Phase II environmental review of the site is underway, and could take three months. Construction would follow, and would last a year, Termini said.
The lot will be repaved, and 100 spaces on site will be maintained. A bike rack will be installed, Termini said.
Two businessmen who operate nearby, Lee Singer of Niagara Metals and Lewis Pierce from Frontier Hot Dip Galvanizing, raised concerns about the property moving to a residential use.
"It's a commercial area," Singer said. "It's an industrial area. It is not a residential area at all."
Pierce said his business has had an easement that allows trucks to drive through the FWS parking lot to reach his facility, and he is concerned the neighbors won't tolerate it. Pierce estimates a dozen trucks a day drive through the lot.
Termini said he was aware of the easement, which allows the trucks moving access, but not parking privileges, and it didn't concern him.
Singer said he too has an easement, and is worried about how a change in the site would impact the ability of trucks to get around the parking lot. Termini said the design could adjusted to accomodate the trucks.
Mighty Taco, which is planning to locate in a former bank building at 396 Kenmore Ave., just west of Englewood Avenue, was approved by the board, with modifications suggested by neighbors. Residents who had concerns about the project two weeks ago did not attend today's meeting, and University Council Member Bonnie Russell said that a tour of the property with the residents was held over the weekend to address the concerns.
Earl Ketry of Pearl Street Grill and Brewery described that larger decks are needed because of long wait times in the summer. On the second floor patio, a 1,100-square-foot expansion is planned. On the third floor deck, the restaurant is planning to install copper canopies because of direct sunlight that hits the area during happy hour. Ketry's plans were already approved by the Preservation Board.
Representatives from Ben Weitsman and Son of Buffalo gave a lengthy presentation to the board about traffic and noise concerns raised in an earlier meeting, but the board ultimately held off on approving the project for two weeks, and told the company to investigate noise concerns.
Ciminelli Development presented to the board its plans for "Conventus," a medical office building at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where Kaleida Health and UBMD will have offices. A public hearing on the project was scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Jan. 29.