Savarino Companies

Seneca St. Project Gains Momentum

Business First


In what is key step towards the re-development of a historic Seneca Street building, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency is expected to set a public hearing for the proposed, $35 million 500 Seneca project.

The hearing date may be determined later this week. The project, as proposed by the 500 Seneca Street LLC development group, will be the subject of an ECIDA policy committee review on Jan. 13 and a full vote by the agency’s board of directors on Jan. 29. The public hearing must be held before the policy committee and full IDA board consider the project.

500 Seneca Street LLC, a development group comprised of Sam Savarino and the Frontier Group Cos.’ David and Dennis Franjoine and Rob Zuchlewski, has been working on the project since they acquired the century-old, six-story former industrial complex in 2010.

“If we get the IDA approval, we’ll be ready to go in earnest,” Savarino said.

Tentative development plans call for the building, once the home to the F.N. Burt Co. paper manufacturer, to house as much as 250,000-square-feet of Class A office space and another 150,000-square-feet of Class B office space. The Class B space will be offered to community groups for meeting and office. It will also house a job training facility.

Negotiations are underway with several prospective tenants.

Central to the project will be a multi-story atrium and an enclosed courtyard.

Savarino said he and his partners are seeking standard IDA-offered sales and mortgage recording tax breaks to help finance the project.

In the past three years, the 500 Seneca Street LLC group has also been acquiring some neighborhood parcels needed to help the project. They have also spent several months meeting with community groups.

The building located just on the western edge of the Larkin District is viewed by some as a key economic development bridge between that fast-emerging district and downtown Buffalo.

Besides F.N. Burt, several other companies worked out of the building including New Era Cap Co., who sold the complex in 2010 to 500 Seneca Street LLC.

The complex dates back to the early 1900s, although later sections were added in the 1930s.

Savarino said he hopes to begin work once the IDA finishes with its review and approval process. 

“It’s my hope that by this time next year, our first tenants will be moving in,” Savarino said.


James Fink 



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