Buffalo, NY - The way has now been paved for renovation work to transform Buffalo's tallest office building into a mixed retail-residential complex. Developer Douglas Jemal got the thumbs up from the Buffalo Planning Board Monday evening.
The rather energetic developer from Washington D.C. says he met with contractors and will soon seek building permits from the city. He is eager to get the shovels in the ground in the next six weeks or so on this major renovation of the One Seneca Tower.
The city planning board told Jemal and his staffers that this is a great project to remake the 38 story building which has been vacant for the past few years Jemal is talking about making the plaza in front of the building pedestrian friendly and making the building itself a downtown drawing card with a mix of residential and retail with over 180 apartments and smaller and larger stores.
Jemal is especially enthusiastic about the retail factor telling reporters, "I started 34 years ago. I started in the retail business. So I'm very familiar with retail. We have over 500 retail tenants...the biggest nationals in the country and the smaller retailers as well. We wanna create a mix. You know it's just like Las Vegas...you build it and they will come. So we have to build it first."
He gave no specifics and no exact cost figure for those renovations. But Jemal has successfully taken on major projects in Washington D.C. and elsewhere. He says he wants to make this a centerpiece for downtown as he blends the crowds from businesses with activities at Canalside.
One interesting thing he talked about. was controlling the wind in that plaza area around the Seneca Tower. Jemal feels it keeps people from wanting to be there. So he wants to install wind screens to cut it off.
Jemal says he got inspiration from touring the Distillery District retail and entertainment complex in Toronto near the waterfront and the Gardiner Expressway.
He adds that he really likes the spirit of Buffalo and its people and will see how that translates when it comes to real estate and development.