Revisiting the Tower

It’s been a lonely two years for the corner of Colvin and Tacoma.

In that time we’ve seen a fire rage through the roof of the old church, a near full demolition, development plans announced, questions asked, hopes raised, and of course, skepticism.

In that time we’ve done a lot of waiting too. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Plans for the development have changed since 2013 but the plan to develop hasn’t.

I had a chance to chat with owner Sam DeFranks a few weeks back. As one of the closest neighbors to the property I have a very vested interest in what goes down there so I try and track him down every few months. Despite me being the least of his worries (maybe because I’m one of his biggest supporters), he always obliges.

He talked about how he’s been fielding many questions, concerns and recommendations from residents near and far. He shared what makes this so much of a process and we mutually griped about what the past two winters have done to our souls and to stall the project timelines.

Sam was also very forthcoming in discussing the project itself. They’ve moved onto a new architect and are modifying the layout and design of the complex. It’s likely the initial plan for 40 units will drop to 27 or 28, allowing for more square footage per unit, larger parking spaces, and less congestion around entry and egress. If all goes well, approvals are received and contracts get signed, we could see work beginning in the next month or two.

To me, it’s very clear that Sam is dead set on getting this project right, and making the Bell Tower Lofts (assuming that will remain the name) a highly sought after residential space.

I remain excited and optimistic. Can’t wait to see that first shovel in the ground!




2 thoughts on “Revisiting the Tower

  1. If anything gets me out of my beloved neighborhood, it will be the sight of another contractor messing up the place. The whole plan is stupid. Collecting rent should not be the controlling factor in planning the a suitable apartment building. Besides, how many high price apartments can be supported in our fair city? All these apartments (25-30) along with the cars and additional traffic will turn North Buffalo into another overcrowded Elmwood Ave. Put this idea in Sam Defranks back yard, not mine. Charlie Fashana this plan is NOT a highly sought after residential plan.


    • Disappointed and completely irritated neighbor: thanks for reading! I respect your opinion but disagree. Here’s why:

      Your concern about additional traffic is fair. But 25-30 more cars in the area really shouldn’t be much of an inconvenience, especially given that they will be parking in an enclosed, private lot. As for high rents, if you take a close look at the live-in-the-city movement taking place you’ll see that there is a huge demand for newer, trendy, low maintenance, high value apartments and the market IS supporting the high cost. And I’d argue that North Buffalo is lacking a good supply of those type of places. Not everyone wants to live in a 100 year old double.

      Let’s consider the past state, or future alternatives: a vacant church sits as a target for continued vandalism and falls into further disrepair; an empty lot sits in a disheveled state and serves as an eyesore to everyone; a business (God forbid a gas station or convenience store) opens up – really making traffic and security a problem; the site is leveled and left as green space or even a tiny playground.

      The last option seems nice (also improbable) but also does nothing to drive additional economic impact. I’m pretty sure none of the business owners are complaining about having too many people walking through their stores and eating at local restaurants. Successful urban neighborhoods have high concentrations of diverse people. This complex will help, not hurt the continued growth of North Buffalo.


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