Developer Douglas Jamal ready to restart Police Apartment project

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As Douglas Jemal continues work on Seneca One tower and embarks on a new plan for the Statler, the Washington developer is also eager to get started on a third major project in the city: the Police Apartments.

Jemal, who purchased the former Buffalo Police Headquarters building on Franklin Street, is seeking to convert the 85-year-old art-deco-style structure into 130 studio and one-bedroom apartments. Plans for the historic renovation call for transforming the 130,676-square-foot building into 92 studio and 38 one-bedroom apartments across its four floors, while restoring and highlighting a preserved jail-cell block.

The project at 74 Franklin had begun working its way through the municipal review process earlier this year, with the Buffalo Preservation Board approving all of the exterior work, except for a proposed two-story rooftop addition. That 5,000-square-foot alteration at the rear of the building would be located on top of the existing two-story extension between the two four-story wings on either side, and would essentially square off the shape.

The addition was to be recessed from the historic facade, and would not be higher than the existing parapet, to minimize its appearance to pedestrians. It also would be covered with contemporary metal and glazed panels to set it apart.

The Preservation Board tabled the addition, asking for “simplification of the proposed design.” But the project has been on hold since March during the state’s “pause” on business activity. The project would still require Planning Board approval.

For now, Jemal said he’s already finished with the environmental abatement and was working through the historic review to qualify the project for state and federal historic tax credits.

“As soon as everything is cleaned up and ready to go, we’re starting,” he said, estimating the project would be completed within 15 months of beginning the work.

According to documents submitted to the city in February, plans by architects from Antunovich Associates call for a “complete exterior and interior renovation,” under federal preservation standards, so that the project can qualify for lucrative state and federal historic tax credits.

Carmina Wood Morris PC Associate Paul R. Lang, who is working with Antunovich on the tax credits, wrote in a letter to the Preservation Board that the single-phase project will restore the outside of the building. That includes restoring, cleaning and repointing the exterior masonry, or replacing it where it can’t be reused, while maintaining existing windows and restoring some that had been sealed. A courtyard roof will also be removed.

Inside, Jemal will preserve existing entrances, corridors and other features that define the building’s historic character, as well as details like flat plaster walls and ceilings, glazed tile wall finishes and terra cotta, handrails and guardrails in stairways, historic door and window mouldings, radiators, transoms and terrazzo flooring. However, the building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire-protection systems will be upgraded, Lang said.

Additionally, the parking lot off Franklin will be reconfigured for use by residents, with 84 additional parking spaces in the basement and part of the first floor that can be accessed from the parking lot and Church Street. In all, there will be 30,488 square feet of parking and 29,828 square feet of amenities or common area, such as a work-sharing space on the fourth floor.

Posted by The Buffalo News

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