The Editorial Board: City living options expand as renting transitions into the chance to own

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Make no mistake; Buffalo’s apartment boom continues. More than 900 units are due for 2023-24 completion between the Barcalo, Elmwood Crossing, Statler and Trico projects – with many more in the pipeline.

But a few earlier apartment complexes are making the leap into condominium conversion, and this is welcome news to many who have been wondering “Where are the condos?”

For the past two decades, developers of residential reuse and build-out projects have explained that apartment complexes were easier to finance and market. That might be changing – slowly.

Two Buffalo developers, Ciminelli Real Estate and Priam Enterprises, have filed paperwork with the state Attorney General’s Office to convert their apartments into condos. If successful, this will make more than 100 condos available in a tight Buffalo real estate market.

The Ciminelli complex at 2917 Main St., Bethune Lofts, was once the Buffalo Meter Co., a 1915 daylight factory admired by architecture buffs for its clean industrial lines. After the University at Buffalo stopped using it in 1993, the structure languished until Ciminelli bought and renovated it 2011-12.

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With 87 possible condo units to offer, this is also an attractive location, near Hertel Avenue and on a section of Main Street that’s already getting other enhancements, including the redevelopment of the LaSalle Metro station.

Much further downtown, Priam Enterprise’s Paul Kolkenberg has filed for conversion of his 36 Glenny Building apartments at 251 Main St., with plans for adding the 64 units in the adjacent Marin Building.

Though the word “condo” may imply an elite style of housing accessible only by a few, many condos are reasonably priced, especially in the current market. For example, houses in the Elmwood/Allentown areas easily go for $300,000 and up, while condominiums in the same neighborhoods have been offered for a median of $185,000. (This is what reasonable looks like in today’s market.)

Condos also offer alternatives for empty nesters and others who don’t relish the constant upkeep demanded by Buffalo’s mainly historic building stock and would just as soon do without the yard maintenance as well.

Bottom line: Buffalo’s housing availability is at a record low. Condos offer buyers options in a frenzied real estate market.

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