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Condo project too big for neighborhood, residents complain

The Buffalo Preservation Board approved demolition of the old Cadet Cleaners building at West Utica and Atlantic Avenue Thursday. The replacement building is slated to be 54 condos and 95 indoor parking spaces spread over four floors, at a cost of $22 million.

Most recently, the century-old building has been used for storage building, but that closed several years ago. The building is considered a contributing structure to a preservation district. Board Chair Gwen Howard told the meeting the structure was contributing, contaminated and shot.

Sinatra & Company plans to build a new structure with 54 condos. That is going to require a massive environmental cleanup. Sinatra Development Director Amy Nagy said it is not clear how massive.

"We really won't have the full answer until we have demolished the site and been able to do additional testing to understand what, specifically, is under the building," Nagy said. "We have to clean the building before it comes down. It is a complex cleanup, but ultimately, as you are aware, we are very invested and believe in the neighborhood and see this as an additional step to adding some promising residential infill."

Neighbors have been very upset, saying the new complex will be too big and too tall. They question the environmental cleanup.

The replacement condos and parking still require final approval from the city Planning Board and approval from the state Attorney General's office of the offering statement, explaining the finances and how the building will be run once the condominiums are sold and the owners run the complex. The key approval was the Zoning Board allowing variances for height and width and percentage of impervious soil.

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.