Developer has plan for ex-Buffalo library branch

May 15, 2012 Updated May 15, 2012 at 7:07 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

...
May 15, 2012 Updated May 15, 2012 at 7:07 AM EDT

After sitting empty for more than six years, the 115-year-old former Fairfield Library branch may soon find new life as a mixed-use development, anchored by five apartments.

Developer David Pawlik from CSS Construction Services is working with Buffalo officials on the development plan for the Amherst Street property, which dates back to 1897 and was designed by fabled architect William Wicks.

"This building is a linchpin of the Parkside neighborhood and I am very respectful of that," Pawlik said, who grew in North Buffalo not far from the former library branch.

Pawlik said tentative plans for the proposed $900,000 project include converting the bulk of the library into a handful of market-rate apartments, three of which will be one-bedroom units. Approximately 1,200 square feet may be set aside for a possible office tenant.

The Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to review the project at its May 23 meeting.

Pawlik has a contract with the city to purchase the library branch for $77,000 - it's appraised value. The deal is contingent on Pawlik receiving all the necessary approvals from the City of Buffalo.

Pawlik said three of the units will be loft-styled apartments, with of the lofts being two-bedroom units.

Work is expected to start this summer and the building should be tenant-ready by early spring.

Pawlik and his CSS firm, two years ago, renovated the former Parkside Lutheran Church at 700 Parkside Avenue into a mixed-use residential/office complex, now called the Lofts at Warwick.

"I want to mimic how respectful we were of 700 Parkside and its history," Pawlik said. "I am very confident we can duplicate that same success at the Fairfield."

Wicks designed the church for the Parkside Unitarian Church in 1897 and remained in use by the congregation until 1912 when it was leased to the Parkside Evangelical Lutheran Church. Buffalo purchased the building in 1924 for $25,000 in a plan to bring a library to the growing North Buffalo/Central Park neighborhoods. It remained a library until the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System closed the building in late 2005.

A few plans for the building have surfaced since the library closed including a local effort to make it a museum honoring the legacy of former Buffalo Mayor and two-term President Grover Cleveland. None of the plans ever went beyond the initial talking stage.

The building is recognized for its Colonial Revival-style architecture noted for its gabled porch with four distinctive Corinthian columns and five identical Paladian windows along its east side.

"Knowing its history and growing up near there, I wanted to step up to the plate with something special for the library," Pawlik said.

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