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82 Pearl Street next up for historic revitalization

BRD Construction

Another of downtown Buffalo's classic old brick business buildings is going to be turned into apartments for the neighborhood's new residents.

While 82 Pearl Street - near Franklin and Allen streets - has been the home of BRD Construction since 1981, for many longtime downtown workers it was once the home of the old Ryan & Williams office supplies store. BRD is going to spend around $3 million fixing up the street level, where its offices are located, and then install 12 apartments on the upper three floors, along with an elevator, stair tower and roof deck for residents.

Thursday, Architect Beth Buscaglia told the Buffalo Preservation Board the outside of the building will get a lot of work, although tenants will be busier looking out their windows.

"Second through fourth floor have a good view over to the ballpark and they can hear the Star Spangled Banner being sung and in the rear, it's really a nice view of the lake," Buscaglia said.

Besides repairing and painting exterior brick, the building is also going to get a mix of new and repaired windows that will meet preservation codes to make the project eligible for historic preservation tax credits. However, owner Dennis Masters said the look of the structure will stay the same, even with the conversion.

"Wood floors, some exposed brick, we're limited by the State Historic Preservation Office, so we have to keep certain things," Masters said. "There are some tongue and groove ceilings that are really nice. There are some tin ceiling that are really nice. So the elements, we're kind of bound by the fabric of the building that's there now. They don't want us to change the main fabric of the building."

The 12 apartments will include nine two-bedroom and three one-bedroom units at downtown market rental rates. Masters said his firm would move if the right tenant wanted the first floor.

"We've occupied this building since the early 1980s and we could stay there, but a construction company doesn't have to be downtown," Masters said. "It's very convenient and nice for us to be there, but there may be higher and better uses and so we could be anywhere. If someone or a restaurant or some coffee shop or something wanted to be in there, even a law office wanted to be in there because they need to be downtown, near the courts, etc., that would be fine with us."

He hopes to start the renovation late this summer, once the tax credits are decided.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.