Savarino Companies

$35M Renovation Planned Near Larkin

Business First


A historic Seneca Street structure that once served as the base for the F.N. Burt Co. could soon come back to life as a multi-tenant office building.  The development tandem of Savarino Cos. and FFZ Holdings have fine-tuned their plans for the massive, nearly 350,000-square-foot Seneca Street building they acquired two years ago. Plans call for the building to be renovated into office space, all centered around a three-story lobby, a pair of courtyards and multi-story atrium.

The building, located at 500 Seneca Street, sits on the border of Buffalo's fast-emerging Larkin District.

"It sets itself up well," said Sam Savarino, president of Savarino Cos. "We feel this is the time to bring this building on to the market."

Savarino expects the building to be renovated in phases, with as much as 200,000-square-feet coming on line in the first phase.

No tenants have been signed by Savarino said there are some serious discussions on going.

"We want to be ready when they are ready," Savarino said. "There has been some very interested and very detailed discussions."

Savarino will be presenting the development plans at an Oct. 16 community forum, set for the Old First Ward Community Center. The Buffalo Planning Board is expected to begin its review of the project when its meets on Oct. 23.

The Buffalo firm of Chaintreuil Jensen Stark has been retained to handle the design work. Savarino will serve as the general contractor.

The Preservation Studios is handling the paper work needed to secure state historic tax credits.

As part of the project, the development team is negotiating to purchase a neighboring Hamburg Street building that will be converted into an indoor parking ramp and connected to the 500 Seneca building via a covered, elevated walkway.

The entire project, including work on both buildings, could top the $35 million mark.

Savarino said work could start this winter.

The 500 Seneca Street building is actually a series of buildings constructed between the early 1900s and 1930, Savarino said. It was the home to the F.N. Burt Co., a paper box manufacturer.

More recently New Era Cap Co. owned and used the building for storage and some manufacturing operations.

New Era sold the building to the FFZ Holdings/Savarino partnership in the spring 2010.

James Fink


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