$42 million project would convert A&P warehouse to apartments

July 9, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 1:53 PM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

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July 9, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 1:53 PM EDT

A century-old Buffalo building that was once a major U.S. distribution center for the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. is being eyed by a local development group for a $42 million project.

Plans call for the structure to be renovated into a mixed-use project, anchored by market-rate apartments.

The Buffalo Planning Board is set to begin its review of the project, set for 545 Swan St., when it meets on July 16.

Representatives from Carmina Wood & Morris, a Buffalo architecture and engineering firm, will review the project with planning board members. The development team, for now, has declined to be identified.

The 240,000-square-foot building is the base for Mesmer Refrigeration Inc., who has been located there since 1972. Mesmer is close to finalizing a deal to move to a new Buffalo location, said Bob Mesmer, company president and founder. Mesmer, which builds refrigeration systems for local restaurant, supermarkets and other clients, has 15 employees.

"We expect to close those negotiations soon," Mesmer said. "We are definitely staying in Buffalo. We're just moving to a new location."

Located on the edge of Buffalo's Larkinville District, the building is best known for housing the A&P Tea Co. warehouse for many years.

Tentative plans call for the bulk of the building to house apartments, a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Some of the building may be used for other purposes, sources said.

Documents show the project being funded through public and private sector sources, including historic tax credits.

Work is expected to start next year and the building may be tenant-ready by early 2016.

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