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Another massive student housing complex approved for Main Street

Another large student housing complex is coming to Main Street in Buffalo, as the University at Buffalo Medical School and all other branches of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus attract rising numbers of students.

Demolition has started for the 322-unit "Rails on Main" complex to be located at Main Street and Hertel Avenue, near the LaSalle Metro Rail Station.

Blackfish Investments, out of Utah, owns and is financing the project. Blackfish is also the bank for a five-story, 215-unit apartment complex at Main and Dodge streets approved Monday by the city Planning Board, a project from Cedarland Development.

The corner, near the BNMC, was once occupied by homes, a gas station and a decrepit motel. The goal is to start demolition this winter and have the wood-frame building open for the fall semester of 2020.

Cedarland Vice President Kevin Dagher said these will be market-rate units, although he said it is too early to say what those rates will be for the units, ranging from 400-1,000 square feet.

Blackfish's Justin Earl said there is no problem with having two massive student apartment developments.

"No conflict. We see a compliment, build shared resources, share management, share human resources between the two properties," Earl said. "We're going to be able to refer tenants from the one property to the other, based on resident preferences."

Dagher said he also does not see a problem with both.

"They did a market study on this area. We have a high population of graduate students. They make up a large population here in Buffalo, when you put Canisius, UB, D'Youville, Daemen," Dagher said. "So there's a lot of college students here. We see a lot of activity and we're hopeful with our unique concept and amenities that we will have in the building that will attract the right people that we want in the building."

Dagher said there will be many amenities for the graduate students the company is seeking, like high-tech Wi-Fi and a fifth-floor walk-out deck overlooking the city.

"The amenities are on the first floor and on the fifth floor," he said. "They range from conference rooms, we even have a VR room and the rooftop and we have some cool outdoor seating areas and stuff like that, pool tables."

Earl said developers are in "a race to amenities" that has not been seen before.

"Before it was location and convenience to campus," Earl said. "Now, you literally can find properties that have hot tubs and rock climbing walls and concierge. There's some pretty ridiculous amenities in student housing."

The $30 million Main-Hertel project and the $25 million Main-Dodge complex are transit-oriented developments. Since they are so close to the BNMC and Metro Rail, there will be parking for only 89 cars, but 100 bicycles.

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.
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