Uniland Team Shares 250 Delaware Plans with Neighbors

It was a full house last night at the Embassy Suites’ Encore Room where neighbors and others were given an overview of Uniland’s proposed 250 Delaware Avenue mixed-use project.  The 12-story, $80 million project is proposed for the site of the Delaware Court building at Delaware Avenue and W. Chippewa Street and will combine retail, hotel, and office space along with underground and structured parking.  It is being designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and HHL Architects and will occupy a nearly two-acre site fronting Delaware, W. Chippewa and S. Elmwood Avenue.

250Del1

Uniland officials stressed that the rendering released is not the final design and will change.  Throughout the meeting company representatives said that they were open to public input on suggested changes.  Architects from Diamond Schmitt were stuck at the border and missed the meeting.

Some project details:

• The existing Delaware Court building will be demolished and designers at Boston Valley Terra Cotta will be replicating the circa-1917 building’s façade for incorporation into the new building.

• A terra cotta louver system will cover floors two through five where the 120 hotel rooms are located.  A terra cotta rain screen system is proposed for a portion of the building’s west façade.

• The building will be 12-stories and 174’ from street level to rooftop.  Much of building’s façade will be fritted glass curtain wall.

• Parking for 62 cars will be located under the building.

• The first floor will be 26’ in height and include four retail spaces, three along Delaware Avenue and one along W. Chippewa Street.

• A 45’ tall, five-level parking garage will contain parking for 465 vehicles and will occupy nearly half of the site including the S. Elwmood Avenue frontage.  There is a shade structure planned for the top level of the ramp.

• The ramp design was the focus of public comments and Uniland officials acknowledge the façade of the ramp is critically important to the surrounding neighborhood and is a work in progress.  Uniland officials said they were open to changes and suggestions.  Current plans show the façade of the ramp covered by a terra cotta louver system.

• There is no retail planned on the first level of the ramp.  Officials said they would like to put retail in the ramp but suggested that the retail market didn’t support it and pointed to Uniland’s 285 Delaware Avenue project where the ground floor space took several years to fill.

250DelSite

• A new access drive on the north end of the site would connect Delaware to South Elmwood Avenue (one way Delaware to Elmwood).  The main building would be built over the driveway creating a covered entrance to the hotel.

• An oval-shaped office building lobby will be located at the Delaware/Chippewa corner.

• There will be a heavily-landscaped courtyard located between the building and the parking ramp.  The hotel’s bar/café will open up to the courtyard that is expected to be the focal-point of the development.

• A two-bay loading dock with overhead door is planned for mid-block along Chippewa Street.

• A restaurant is planned on the second level overlooking the Delaware/Chippewa intersection.  The three-level space will include a lounge on the fourth floor.

• The office floors are 28,000 sq.ft. and fill the seventh thru twelfth floors.  The top floor is slightly recessed from the floors below.  An oval landscaped terrace is planned.

• Demolition and site work is expected to begin early next year and construction will take 16-18 months to complete.  The building would open in late-2015.

Uniland Vice President Michael Montante is proud of Uniland’s commitment to the city, particularly the Delaware Avenue corridor where new private sector investment is accelerating.  “Uniland has accounted for 60 percent of the investment in the Delaware Hub,” he says.

250DelDelElev

250DelChippElev

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90 comments
Seydlitz
Seydlitz

Meh, but we'll take it, can't wait to see the revised renderings so we'll know what we're actually going to get.

5to81allday
5to81allday

"Build the parking ramp skinier!"

"encorporate the parking into the building to make it taller!"

"Add more floors!"

"Build the parking underground!"

Yes - it all sounds nice, but our fantasy's would cost developers millions more and could possibly not make this project financially feasible.

BuffaloLMT
BuffaloLMT

Maybe this is an option for the Lexington CoOp to locate here?

buffalorr
buffalorr

If I had the luxury of being able to tell the developers what to do, I'd say put a Trader Joes on the Elmwood side of the building, like the one that's opening up on NF Blvd. TJ's is a great alternative for groceries and other items who's brand is very popular in S. California. I think this area of the city could use alternatives to what's there now as far as food shopping. There are already enough Rite Aids and Mini Marts serving the city.

cutredtape
cutredtape

My concern is increased traffic in the neighborhood.  It's not just 9-5 cars.  A building of this size needs infrastructure.  For example, since the new federal building on Huron, a noisy garbage truck & its dumpster-slamming, wakes us every morning precisely at 5:30 AM.  That's a big quality of life issue for a city dweller.

DowntownRising
DowntownRising

ATTENTION: If in fact a global company is going to be headquartered in this building, along with a big-time hotel, where is it all of you folks who are bashing the parking garage would like people to park? I hate to break it to you, but not everyone lives in the coffee-shop dwelling confines of the Elmwood Village, making this building accessible by big-handle-bar bike. I say this half-joking, of course, but you have to be realistic. And again -- it is replacing a SURFACE LOT that formerly harbored a junky-filled GAS STATION. 

This site is infuriating. I don't know why I even bother checking the comment section. 

Khmylevs_Heroes
Khmylevs_Heroes

What happened to this plan from Uniland Vice President Michael Montante?

"I think the exterior of the building, although it needs some refurbishment, is a beautiful building," Montante said. "You can see the detail that is in the building. Our plan is to restore that."

That facade would also be maintained and incorporated into any future development on the site, "whether it is keeping the existing building or building a new building," he added.

Via:  http://buffaloah.com/a/del/232/index.html 

rubagreta
rubagreta

Near the Baltimore harbor where everyone hangs out are huge, but architecturally appropriate parking garages. They look great. Without them the waterfront would be dead. Why? Because Baltimore (and Buffalo) are not New York City, that's why. People drive, like it or not.

Tweak this project to make it better. And then build it in spite of the 96 people who cherish the existing building.

NBuffGuy
NBuffGuy

Is it really a good idea to have a beautiful public building, Hutch Tech High School, facing a parking garage? I would love to see something built along South Elmwood that does not contribute to it feeling like a service street.  There are numerous buildings in cities like Baltimore where the parking garage is tucked away inside the building and not even noticeable from street level.  It makes parking more secure, and makes a stroll around the building much more pleasant for pedestrians. Check out the recently completed Union Wharf in Baltimore: http://www.earthcam.com/client/bozzuto/

elmdog
elmdog

sounds great...I like the outdoor component but also wish it is a green roof, which could also be a sundeck, rest. and or pool..but one can only want

David Steele
David Steele

This proposal includes the equivalent of 8 lanes of 10 lanes of traffic crossing the sidewalks.  It is absurd.

Caug124
Caug124

I don't understand.  Every city in America has parking garages what is the big deal?  The parking garage is replacing a gas station and surface parking.  This is a big positive step forward and big time infill.


GotAnyChange
GotAnyChange

I understand the concern with foregoing retail on the parking garage stretch, but I have a strategic urban planning question. Since elmwood in this area is already a sort of non urban back alley, and we want to develop chippewa east of this site and its appendages (including main st) with retail, would it be smarter long term to forego retail on this corner with the hope of nurturing it toward main st and gateway?

Even if dt buffalo grows substantially in population, every new build can't possibly have 10 retail fronts. My question is *could* this foregoance be good for other vacant spaces along this corridor towards pearl, franklin, Washington and genny?

There are so many vacant spaces to fill already in buffalo's deeper urban environments that I thought this (unpopular lol) suggestion was worth bringing up.

Dan Morrow
Dan Morrow

Whatever the final parking ramp configuration is, they should build the ground floor (sidewalk level) with a 14 foot floor to floor height, instead of the more typical 8 foot floor to floor.  This allows for future development of the ground floor as retail space.  Google "Parking garage with first floor retail" and under the images tab there are hundreds of example of garages with retail at grade.  The additional height comes with a cost, but it will be small in the context of an $80 million project.

solonggone
solonggone

So the parking ramp is a big turd.  

It seems like it's two structures already with one section holding 31 spaces per floor and the other holding 61.  Why not remove the first structure and add an additional 3 floors on the back deck?

The only reason I can think for not doing this is that would block the view for the back of the Delaware side on floors 5-9 but I think you could do an interesting living wall on the garage that ties into the courtyard.

As for the smaller ramp section, why can't this be a separate building and done as retail/condos?  Hell, you don't even have to develop it right now.  The footprint of the smaller ramp could easily hold 2 very large condos per floor and run elevators up the back wall.  

Hate to say this but on this on I agree with Steele


1stWard
1stWard

Id just like to see 20 stories both on Delaware, Chippwa and Elmwood

HWA
HWA

@Seydlitz Can we get an accurate rendering at least? The hotel next door is 6-7 stories and is the same height in this rendering as a 12 story building!

BuffaloLMT
BuffaloLMT

Its downtown. We want increased traffic.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

@cutredtape 

I agree with you: that's a real issue. We shouldn't be so dismissive.

If I lived on Cary, or Rabin, I'd be concerned about dumpsters at 5:30 every morning. We all should be more sensitive to noise issues for downtown residents if what we desire are more downtown residents. And noise is a somewhat solvable issue. 

Every single day on this site, bloggers advocate for more residents downtown. They yearn for the day we'll count ourselves amongst 'real' cities, with vibrancy begot by full time residents reveling in downtown's energy.

But quality of life issues matter. A lot. Solving some of them needn't cause grief for anyone else. Other housing options here are too plentiful, too convenient and too cheap to persuade many potential residents to choose the downtown core over other alternatives. Why put up with the noise when a few blocks away you can sleep in peace and quiet, and have a little back yard space to boot?

It behooves us to pay heed to what makes downtown nice for residents.

That said, a parking garage is a pretty quiet neighbor.

AllentownChris
AllentownChris

@cutredtape I think increased traffic in the neighborhood is desirable - this is downtown Buffalo! My worry is that the parking garage facing South Elmwood will have a deadening effect.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

@lafayette1985 

I like that idea. A drug store might be a tough sell. They all want drive-thru lanes these days. But some kind of convenience store would make some sense here and you're right: it would bring some life to the Elmwood side of the site. Sounds viable to me.

1stWard
1stWard

@lafayette1985 

I like the idea of a rite aid or a walgreens 0r market on the Elmwood side. I think it retail that would compliment the West Village area nicely and make the residential side (between Elmwood and Niagara) much more livable. Plus its a nice place for Hutch Tech students to drop in for a snack.

I think your idea is brilliant and your the first one to have mentioned it.

(on a side note...no one wants a 1 story rite aid or walgreens downtown and you know if left to their own devices that's what they would build. Better to give them a home and prevent a future demolition)

300miles
300miles

@DowntownRising   You're pushing a lame strawman argument ..since nobody is actually saying "There should be no garage at all".    Just because it needs a garage doesn't mean the design should obliterate sidewalk activity in order to have it.   There are better ways to design them.  They're clearly just not even trying.  

You might be tired of the "coffee shop crowd", but I'm tired of all the people that practically have an orgasm over every shiny rendering instead of actually looking at the details. 

BuildBuffalo
BuildBuffalo

Their rendering is so much better than Delaware ourt.....

1stWard
1stWard

@rubagreta 

Baltimore does not have Buffalo's Light Rail.

Though this project is only 2 blocks from Light Rail on Main Street. That's not a huge distance for someone to walk if they were traveling north east on their commute. A parknride would get them out of rush hour and save gas.

Though I understand our truncated 6 mile light rail needs to go to Amherst, Niagara Falls and the Airport to really make an impact for people to use it as a convenient option.

cutredtape
cutredtape

@NBuffGuy This is a *very* good point.  That was the problem with the bank building on Chippewa and Main Street (now M&T) which is glassy and open toward Main, but closed and ugly facing the east side.  One prominent architect back then called this "racist".  I don't know if I would go that far, but putting the pretty goodies towards Delaware and Chippewa intentionally or unintentionally caters to the 9-5 commuting business person, and deemphasizes the 24/7 west side residents.

Davvid
Davvid

@NBuffGuy  Its hard to tell from the drawings exactly how that facade will look. 

solonggone
solonggone

@Caug124 In cities with a stronger development pulse, a 5 story parking garage like this does not get built these days.  The land value would make it so that some type of structure would go over the ramp and street facing property would have some sort of retail or office use.  

If it was just to be a ramp, a much larger ramp would be constructed to reduce the need for additional ramps.  


1stWard
1stWard

@GotAnyChange 

It doesn't have to be retail. It could be offices or apartments or even "gasp" dummy display windows where the 5 stores could place advertising of their products. The driveby or pedestrian wouldn't know the difference.

BeardedBuffalonian
BeardedBuffalonian

@GotAnyChange 

The answer to your question is, 'yes'. We need to centralize retail into one main location (Main St.) and let it expand outward. Why put 4 or 5 shops on the backside of a parking garage, where there is limited traffic,.When you could put them along Chippewa, or Main and have then fill in a couple of vacant store fronts. This would have a larger impact, when compared to the backside of a parking garage. Also, people forget that Bada Bing and the rest of the bars will have to go somewhere, right? This means they'll fill in storefronts which are currently vacant, making the city more vibrant. In the end it's a win for everyone.

BeardedBuffalonian
BeardedBuffalonian

@solonggone 

Probably because Delaware North does not want to build condos. I'm sure they have better things to do with their time.

greenca
greenca

@1stWard 

That's been covered.  There apparently isn't the demand for 20 stories, especially with the  much larger sized floor plates you are proposing.  If there was the demand, Uniland would have increased the size of the building,  They are not going to build unneeded space solely to satisfy people's size fetishes.  

We all need to accept economic reality and not simply live in a dream world where money drops from the sky like manna and there is an unlimited demand for commercial space.

brownteeth
brownteeth

@lafayette1985 Actually, Iiving across from Hutch Tech on Whitney, they pick up the trash nearly every day as early as 4AM.  It's very loud.  I dealt with it because my house just happened to be that close to the switch between commercial and residential.  The solution is probably to have it picked up at 6 PM so that the parking lot is empty but not to disrupt the neighborhood at such an early hour.

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

@lafayette1985 

no one outside a commercial district has the garbage picked up that early every single day. Once a week is one thing. Daily is another. I see no good reason pickup couldn't be restricted to an hour later.

As to Acropolis, I didn't complain, but I sure would have if I lived in the neighborhood. Elmwood is not an entertainment district. It's an entertainment district, and a retail district, and a residential district. All of those are important, residents as much as anyone. If all the residents moved out, the businesses would die quickly. If all the businesses moved out, the residential neighborhood would take a hit, but it would not die.

I'm sorry, but if a business cannot contain its own noise, it should not simply be a matter of tough luck for the neighbors. Noise pollution is pollution. That's why there have been ordinances on the books for ages regarding 'disturbing the peace'. Peace and quiet have been seen as a right enforceable by law. There is reason for that.

Noise might not strike you as a detriment.

At one time, smog and soot were seen as the inevitable byproducts of modernity. The factory down the street pollutes your air? Big deal! It's the price you pay. Move out to the country, why don't you? That's he attitude many had when it came to air pollution by the mid 20th century. But isn't the air nicer now? 

A generally quieter environment is likewise preferable to many, if not most. And residents do have the right to expectations of 'quiet enjoyment' (a real estate lease term; you'll find it in every lease, residential and commercial. Interesting that it's always phrased that way: the tenant has the right to 'quiet enjoyment' of the premises. Meaning the tenant is free to enjoy the place without being disturbed by the landlord's interference, but it's interesting that it is described as 'quiet').

Anyway, in the battle betwixt Acropolis vs. residents, I am solidly behind the residents. Acropolis wants to entertain? Great. But keep noise to discreet levels after certain hours. They're not entertaining in a vacuum. The vitality of the strip is enabled primarily by residents. It is the density of and the wealth of the residents surrounding Elmwood which enables businesses like Acropolis to operate in the physically safe and economically viable environment they enjoy. That environment is not a desert. It's not empty wilderness past the storefronts on the street. Without all those people living right there, Acropolis and others couldn't survive.

So if Acropolis cannot contain its noise, then it has to restrict it to hours which don't interfere with the other neighbors sharing the same physical environment. Entertaining or not, your neighbor doesn't have the right to throw parties every night which stop you and your other neighbors from sleeping. If he did, you'd eventually call the cops. This is the same thing. The fact that one entity (Acropolis) is a business doesn't trump the rights of the guy living next door.


DowntownRising
DowntownRising

@300miles Yeah - duly noted, but again, be realistic. The idea of "throwing a drug store" to appease you and the slue of perpetually negative armchair quarterbacks is ridiculous. RIP, Valero; I guess you were more than a piece of filth gas station. 

Joel AltreKerber
Joel AltreKerber

@cutredtape @NBuffGuy The configuration of Goldome Center when built was with the plan that the east side of the building would eventually have a mirror image companion building built on that site integrating into the existing structure. At the time Goldome was going through the S&L boom, and when it all went bust, the plans were, of course, scrapped.

Davvid
Davvid

Actually, I see what you mean. It would be better to have leasable space on that side of the building.

expat buffalonian
expat buffalonian

@solonggone @Caug124 Buffalo doesn't have a strong downtown core. Cities with a strong pulse also don't have as much surface parking. Building a garage is step forward from my perspective - better than some of the big surface lots we have around. 

Also, this is a hotel correct? Seems to me like having a parking garage is pretty key.

Also, the proposal noted issues in previous developments on Delaware with filling storefront retail. You can build the space, but if there isn't anyone to fill it...

300miles
300miles

@BeardedBuffalonian @solonggone     Delaware North isn't building anything.... they're a tenant leasing office space from a mixed-use building which they won't own.   Uniland is building it along with two architectural firms.

1stWard
1stWard

@greenca

Mixed use would take care of that demand proplem. Delaware North and Uniland just aren't jumping on it.

This is...a larger mixed use building will give them room for future growth that they could expand into.

Hey, Im not telling them what to do...that's just my preference.

and I do agree with the other posts...the Chippewa side and Elmwood side need more thought. Especially with HutchTech right across the street.

dtgblo
dtgblo

@lafayette1985 It's not the sound of a garbage truck.  You have obviously never lived near someplace that pays for dumpster service.  It is the loud crashing, slamming of the dumpster, first onto the truck a couple of times to empty it, then onto the ground as they replace it.  It far exceeds the noise of your weekly garbage truck.

whateverr
whateverr

@biniszkiewicz

"But keep noise to discreet levels after certain hours."

1. The Acroplois-specific rules the Common Council attempted to impose (before being overturned in State Supreme Court which should've been very embarrassing to the Council) seemed to have little to do with noise levels.  For instance, mandating that a bar can't be on its 2nd floor, etc.

2. There was already a noise ordinance in City Law with a max # of decibels at some distance.  That should've been the enforcement mechanism, it seems to me.  Incompetence on city govt's part if that law isn't adequate &/or the city passed that law's wording without also having equipment & training to implement it.

5to81allday
5to81allday

@lafayette1985 my building in NYC has a Drug store on the ground floor and its the best thing ever.  Left your tooth brush on vacation? you can grab one real quick.  Looking for a late night snake - no problem.  Its a big reason why i havent moved in 5 years

DowntownRising
DowntownRising

@300miles Right on. I can appreciate what you are saying. I only wish more people realized that life is not Sim City. Oh well. Cheers.   

300miles
300miles

@DowntownRising @300miles     I'm not one to say  "They should have a drug store"  or  "they should have a bar"   or   "They should have a barber shop".    This isn't Sim City, and I think the market will drive what business works best there.   But the opportunity for any of those things is gone forever if the streetfront is taken up with garage doors and parking garages.  They shouldn't kill all prospects of a thriving Chippewa / Delaware corner by cutting into the sidewalk with driveways and loading docks.  They ignored the pedestrian factor and it shows in their design.

At a minimum, they could design the garage in a way that shop fronts could be added later.  Although that was done once with one of the other downtown garages, and a decade later there has been no attempt to build out that space... so I hesitate to even suggest it. 

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