Condo tower proposed next to Buffalo Grand Hotel

Canadian developer Harry Stinson is proposing to construct a $150 million condominium tower adjacent to the Buffalo Grand Hotel in downtown Buffalo, in the latest big change to his redevelopment plans for the former Adam’s Mark Hotel property.

Stinson – back in Buffalo for the first time since February 2020 – says he’s abandoning his prior plan to convert half of the mammoth Church Street hotel into condominiums, after concluding that the work and regulatory approvals that would be required didn’t make sense.

Revamping and reopening the hotel has proven challenging, and he needs to get it back up to regular operations, without distraction.

But he still wants to bring new housing to the site. So instead, the developer from Hamilton – who has yet to accomplish any of his big plans locally despite several attempts – is now looking to bring a Toronto- style project to Western New York, where condominiums have not been as popular.

The developer previously tried projects at the Hotel Niagara in Niagara Falls and the Central Terminal in Buffalo but was unable to make those projects work. “I’m coming from an environment where condos are the most easily financed thing,” Stinson said. “Down here, the market’s not flooded at all. The Buffalo condominium market is relatively undeveloped.” Stinson is proposing to erect the 250-foot-tall building on an L- shaped outdoor parking lot that wraps around the back of the hotel, at the corner of Lower Terrace and Charles Street. Depending on the exact height of the floors, that could allow for 20 to 25 stories.

The precise mix of units would determine the total number of apartments, but he said he anticipates smaller studio apartments on lower floors, with larger units higher up. The new building could also still include a hotel component as well.

The developer hesitated to put a price on the entire venture, but anticipated that it could run as high as $200 million for everything. “We want this to be unique in terms of its features and design of its units,” Stinson said.

“Downtown’s coming alive and people are starting to take it more seriously, but there’s not a lot of product for them to choose from.”

The project would have to be approved not only by the city but also by the state Attorney General’s Office, which must review condo projects before the units can be marketed for sale. Attorneys from Phillips Lytle LLP are now working on drafting the paperwork, and

Stinson has also hired Lauer- Manguso Associates to design the project. He said he doesn’t expect to be able to begin construction until summer 2022.

Stinson bought the 40-year-old former Adam’s Mark in summer 2018, with ambitions to spend as much as $40 million on renovations. His stated goal was to revive the neglected hotel, with a renewed focus on conventions, events and hospitality, and he planned to expand it with a new 300-seat comedy club and a new wedding chapel inspired by a Frank Lloyd Wright design.

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