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!

  

 

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Our Lonely Tower

There she stands. Quietly overlooking North Buffalo.

Lonely Tower

An empty plot of land surrounds her, and many months have passed since the former Korean Methodist Church sat in tact, keeping her company. It’s been even longer since there was activity at that corner.

To me, this nearly demolished space is a reminder of the “old Buffalo” – blighted and defeated. But, if you look at it from a different angle (and I suggest you do), this very tower symbolizes the movement we’re seeing all around town. One of promise, hope, and revitalization.

This tower is destined to return to glory. Just like those grain elevators downtown and the countless turn of the century warehouse buildings we’re seeing slowly reborn.

You may have read a prior blog of mine showing the plans to build high end apartments around the anchor tower. Time may have passed, but the plans haven’t changed.

The good folks at Saranac Central Block Association reached out to the owner of the planned development, Sam DeFranks, this month and got this update:

  • The project is moving forward but at a slower pace than planned. The harsh winter caused a series of delays for most contractors.
  • The design and intentions remain the same and the goal is to have foundations poured and framing/building shell construction start late this fall/early winter.

In general the following tasks will take place in the coming weeks:

  • Parking lot will be privatized and fenced/secured (by Halloween)
  • Job trailer will be located in parking lot (by Halloween)
  • Concrete foundations will commence (November)
  • Framing/shell construction will follow foundations

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Sam a few times and his position has always been the same. He’s excited for this project and for North Buffalo. He’s a bit apologetic for the length of time it’s taking to get a shovel in the ground. And most of all, he’s thankful for the patience and support of the community.

Hang in there folks, good things are ahead!

Tower photo courtesy of Chris Bordeleau Photography (@buffcleb).