FWS remake, Mighty Taco OK'd by city planners

January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 16, 2013 at 7:05 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 16, 2013 at 7:05 AM EDT

The Buffalo Planning Board has given its blessing to a proposal by developer Rocco Termini to turn the former FWS Warehouse building into a residential-based, mixed-use project.

Termini's $16 million development plan for the 90,000-square-foot Elmwood Avenue building, was approved Tuesday morning by the planning board. The project is among the first Termini has in his pipeline for North Buffalo.

Plans call for the multi-story building, which dates back to the early 1920s, to be anchored by 35 market-rate apartments along with a first floor distillery and restaurant. Termini has dubbed the project the Distillery Lofts in honor of the first floor signature tenant.

"I see this as a catalyst for a redevelopment effort in the entire neighborhood," Termini said.

Designed by the fabled local architecture firm, Esenwein and Johnson, the building has a number of hidden amenities including a 3,000-square-foot interior courtyard that will be renovated and turned into the centerpiece of the restaurant.

The distillery and restaurant will be separate, but related operations.

Termini said he hopes to start work on the project later this year, after the environmental reviews are completed. He estimates construction will start within the next six months.

Besides the Distillery Lofts, Termini is also working on renovating a Grote Street former manufacturing site into a mixed-use project, also anchored by market-rate apartments.

In addition to Termini's project, the board also approved:

• Plans for a Mighty Taco on Kenmore Avenue that straddles the Buffalo/Town of Tonawanda municipal border.

Mighty Taco is renovating a former CDL Driving School location for the restaurant, which is due to open later this year.

• A 1,100-square-foot expansion of a second floor patio at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery.

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