Former schools to become apartments

Posted at 8:19 AM, Dec 17, 2014

There is new life coming to a few Catholic schools in western New York that shut their doors over the last few years.

The school at Saint Thomas Aquinas on Abbott Road closed several years ago. It will soon be transformed into apartments.

Frizlen Group Architects is buying the building. Currently, it is getting the former school designated as a historical sight in order to get historic tax credits for the project.

The group plans to buy two out of four of the buildings on the property -- the vacant school and the gymnasium.

Each classroom will be transformed into an apartment. The auditorium will also be divided into several apartments. The gymnasium will remain as it is.

Much of the interior will remain similar, maintaining its historic feel. The wooden floors will be re-polished, the windows will be refurbished and the century old slate boards on the walls will be incorporated in the apartments.

Karl Frizlen, with Frizlen Group Architects, says he expects the new apartments to attract employees at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

"This is a little bit south to it, but not too far removed," Frizlens says. "We feel like this will invigorate and revitalize," explaining that he wants to be a part of the region's momentum.

Meanwhile in North Buffalo, the vacant school at St. Margaret's will also be turned into apartments. That school has also been closed for a few years.

David Chiazza, with Iskalo Development, explains that his company wanted to reach into the expanding North Buffalo area -- especially on Hertel Avenue.

Much of the layout will remain the same. However, Iskalo Development plans to narrow the hallways, as well as widen and combine classrooms to create loft-style apartments.

Architects say loft apartments are in high-demand right now.

"The loft style, the tall ceilings that people are used to seeing, will be able to be accomplished at this school," Chiazza explains.

The lower level will be raised as well, "giving the building a cache," Chiazza says.

It will also include two-thousand square feet of commercial space. The Hertel Avenue side of the facade will also be updated.

Both projects are expected to have construction begin in the spring of 2015 and be ready for residents in 2016.