After purchasing the former Freezer Queen property located on Furhmann Blvd in Buffalo’s outer harbor for $3 million in late 2007, local businessman and developer Gerald Buchheit has been trying to redevelop the 20-acre parcel. After failed attempts to adaptively reuse the frozen-food production plant and warehouse building (which closed in 2006) for residential apartments or condominiums, Buchheit elected to demolish the Freezer Queen building, remediate the site as part of a Brownfield Cleanup program and ultimately unveiled an ambitious 23-story apartment tower in early 2016.
Several designers and construction managers were tasked with developing the project before Buchheit brought in new architects – Toronto's Diamond Schmitt Architects – and revised the plan.
The new $100 million version would have 206 apartments, with 102 one-bedroom, 92 two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 860 square feet to 2,134 square feet. The 470,444-square-foot project would include two restaurants – one on the ground floor, alongside 9,455 square feet of retail space and a galleria, and the other on the sixth floor, as part of a 18,426-square-foot event and banquet facility.
The new design includes 350 spaces of covered parking built into the tower, on the second through fifth floors, plus another 220 surface spaces. The apartments would occupy floors seven through 20.
The complex would now occupy 30% less land, and is situated 80 feet from the water, opening up more green space and public access than was included in the prior plan. Extra amenities under consideration could include 30 transient boat slips that can be removed at the end of each season, as well as a solar-powered swingset, public walking and bicycle paths and other recreational features that will let everybody enjoy the space.
In addition to the proposed 20-story tower, Buchheit has also submitted a Planned Unit Development concept to the City of Buffalo Planning Board and Common council for the build-out of the balance of the 20-acre former wharf. The proposal includes a balancing of building heights and occupancy types stepping down from the 20-story tower to two, 6 story mixed-use building before stepping down to 3-story clustered townhomes with a shared second story green terrace enclosing secured parking. All three primary units will be functionally linked by an 80-ft wide water side promenande along the south side and will share a 2-acre preserved and revitalized waterfront habitat on the north side.