Savarino Companies

Competing Developers Unite for Corridor Project

The Buffalo News


Two local developers who submitted competing plans to develop a 30- acre site in North Buffalo are joining forces.

Buffalo's Savarino Cos. and Natale Builders of Clarence have decided to pool resources to pitch the City of Buffalo on a mixed-use plan for a former railroad corridor. The new development team proposes working together on the plan submitted by Savarino, which calls for a mix of townhouses, senior housing and single family dwellings in several price ranges.

A community center, soccer field and bike/walking path and pocket parks are also part of the plan.

"Angelo [Natale] is going in as a partner on our plan," said Savarino principal Sam Savarino. "We've had some good conversations about the project and this approach makes a lot of sense to all of us."

The developers notified the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency about the shift in strategy on Friday.

Real estate executive Peter Hunt is also a partner in the Savarino/Natale project.

Natale first proposed building a $40 million, 134-unit housing development called "Northern Trails" in early 2006, more than a year before the City put out a formal request for proposals. The plan, which offered a mix of single-family, senior and townhouse-style homes, met with opposition from a group of vocal North Buffalo residents who wanted the land to remain largely undeveloped and with public access.

"He took a lot of hits on that proposal because he was the first in," Savarino said of the original Natale plan. "There are certainly common elements in our plans, but I think our idea of a community center will have a lot of appeal."

The City received a total of four proposals by its early October deadline, and has poised to begin a review of the submissions. In addition to Savarino/ Natale, the City will review a plan from Mayne Development Ltd., a group based in Northern Ireland. A key element in that residential-based proposal is a mini-town center with a village green.

Maranno/Marc Equity, a West Seneca housing developer, also put in a request to be named "designated developer" of the North Buffalo site, but submitted only its development resume, not a detailed site plan.

The undeveloped, "Y shaped" parcel stretches from behind the Lasalle metro rail station on Main Street, west to Starin Avenue, with a northsouth spur that runs parallel to Main Street, between Tacoma and Kenmore Avenues.

Savarino Cos. also formalized a proposal to build a $10 million, 37,500-square-foot medical building in the 1100 block of Main Street, near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The developer proposes to tear down the Buffalo Tourist Lodge Motel to erect a two-story building that will house medical offices and clinics.

"We're talking with two potential tenants who are looking for private practice space that's close to the medical campus, and [Women and] Children's Hospital," Savarino said.

Savarino cos. has purchase contracts for three parcels that will form the development site. The project requires approval by the Buffalo Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

The developer is seeking to begin construction in the Spring.

by Sharon Linstedt


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