Adaptive re-use of commercial, industrial and warehouse properties
is not just happening in the city's downtown area. Lofts are becoming part of established neighborhoods adding a new character and housing diversity. While the re-use brings new life to a property, its new residents also make use of the conveniences of the community. Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation is investing $15 million to create 87 market-rate lofts over the five levels of the former Buffalo Meter Company at
2917 Main St. near Hertel Avenue. Named the Bethune Lofts, the 105,000 square-foot reinforced concrete-frame daylight factory bears the name of Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first woman architect and the first woman fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Her recent celebrity is also associated with one of her works — the Hotel at Lafayette. After the Buffalo Meter Co. closed in 1970, the University at Buffalo obtained the building, and its School of Fine Arts named it Bethune Hall. Listed on the National Historic Register, Ciminelli is using historic preservation tax credits for
development, and the adaptive re-use is being done to meet State Historic Preservation Office guidelines. Carmina Wood Morris, PC, the architect for the project, has retained exterior detailing; new, energy-efficient windows match the mullions of the old glass; and entrances and additions have been preserved. A fresh coat of paint has been applied to the exterior, the main lobby includes a large mural by artist Augustine Droze highlighting the history of the Buffalo Meter Co. and a secure parking lot for 148 tenant and visitor vehicles is adjacent to the primary entrance. An outdoor patio and
relaxation area for the residents has been created at the rear of the building. Interior stairwells have been retained — brightened by windows and skylights. The first-floor loading dock features the original doors. The upper floors highlight interior columns, brick walls and fireplaces have been incorporated in the redevelopment. Because of the unique spaces, Ciminelli has developed 28 individual floor plans: 37 are one-bedroom and 50 are two-bedroom. Eleven of the two-bedroom units are two-story. And there is one, two-bedroom penthouse on the fifth floor. Apartments have hardwood flooring in the living areas, carpeting in the bedrooms and ceramic tile in the bathrooms. Some bathrooms are handicap-adaptive with roll-in showers. Fourteen-foot ceiling height and some exposed mechanicals add character to the building. Because the building exterior is 70 percent glass, units are filled with natural light. The
developer has installed solar shades in each unit to control the daylight and add privacy. A bike storage room is entered on the ground level entrance from the main driveway. Other site amenities include a lounge, a fitness center and laundry facility. Rents start at $950 for a one-bedroom unit and from $1,400 for a two-bedroom plan. All rents include heat, air conditioning and water. The Hertel Avenue retail corridor, the Lasalle-University District, the University at Buffalo campus, plus the north Buffalo residential neighborhoods, complement urban loft living. The Bethune Lofts also connect to downtown offices, the Buffalo Niagara Medial Campus and Canalside via the Metro rail from the nearby Lasalle station. Or sporting events, the theater district, dining and shopping are an easy drive. An open house event is planned from 1 to 5 p.m. this weekend. This will be an opportunity to see a variety of units, the amenities and to speak to a leasing agent.