Savarino Companies

St. Clare's development gaining community support

Buffalo Business First


The plan to turn the former St. Clare School in South Buffalo into a market-rate apartment complex is being hailed as a transformational project for a neighborhood that sits on the edge of both the Larkin District and downtown’s central business district.

“This is the type of project that attracts more people into Buffalo,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “We need to develop housing options in every part of Buffalo.”

The Savarino Cos. are proposing to turn the Valley neighborhood landmark into a residential-based project with 11 market-rate apartments. Savarino officials briefed the Buffalo Planning Board about the project Monday, and the board is expected to vote on the proposal on Feb. 22. The Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals on Feb. 17 must sign off on a minor variance before the planning board members can cast their vote.
“It’s a pretty straightforward project,” said Kevin Hays, Savarino director of development.

Hays said Savarino is seeking historic tax credits, which means any renovations to the late 1800s era former school must meet tough preservation standards.

Plans call for the 15,400-square-foot, three-story school to be renovated into 11 market-rate apartments along with some street-level retail. Savarino plans on investing at least $1.2 million on the project.

Hays said plans call for a mix between studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

With the Larkin District and RiverBend nearby, Hays said he views South Buffalo, the Old First Ward and Valley neighborhoods as ripe locations for new development efforts.

“Projects like this give the neighborhood a sense that it is not being abandoned,” said Pastor Steve Pavignano, OFM, St. Clare’s Church religious leader.

Savarino is one of several development groups that expressed an interest once the Diocese of Buffalo put the “for sale” sign on the school. The sale is only for the school and not the neighboring St. Clare’s Church, formerly St. Stephen’s Church, which remains open.

“The last thing we need in the Valley is another vacant building,” Pavignano said.

Savarino Cos. has retained Abstract Architecture of Buffalo to work on the project.

The renovation work, pending all necessary Buffalo approvals, could start this spring.

James Fink covers real estate, commercial development and government


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