Apartments would move NT riverfront plan forward

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The Clarence company that erected 88 apartment and townhouse units along the Niagara River in North Tonawanda has new plans to bring more residents, and a couple of businesses, to the same area. DLV Properties, a subsidiary of VisoneCo Site Development, presented a plan last week for a $20 million building at 624 River Road. 

The five-story building would contain 111 apartments, said Tom Celik, the company’s director of development. The proposal won the approval of the Niagara County Planning Board Monday, but a green light from the North Tonawanda Planning Commission still is needed. 

Also, DLV intends to apply to the Niagara County Industrial Development  Agency for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement on the new building. 

“The project is highly dependent on the PILOT,” Celik said. 

The NCIDA has a strong relationship with DLV Properties. In 2017, the agency granted a tax break for a $20 million housing complex at 600 River Road, which opened in 2019, and last summer, the company received another tax break for a $2.9 million mixed-use building on the 624 River Road parcel. 

DLV has broken ground for that 13,700- square-foot building, which will contain nine apartments and two commercial spaces, each 2,000 square feet, Celik said. 

One of the commercial spaces will be occupied by dentist Dr. Robert Reszel, whose office building on the site of the planned apartment complex is to be demolished, Celik said. DLV is looking for a coffee shop or similar business to occupy the other space in the mixed use building, Celik said. “The biggest thing for us right now is looking for that anchor retailer,” he said. 

For a while, Santora’s Pizza Pub & Grill was to be that tenant, but its deal with DLV fell apart in 2020. 

The 111-unit apartment building and the mixed-use building are to be connected to DLV’s existing housing at 600 River Road by a publicly accessible riverfront  path, Celik said. The new building will stand about 50 feet from the riverbank. 

The company hopes to win some financing from North Tonawanda’s $10 million state grant through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Celik said. 

“They reached out a few months ago,” Mayor Austin J. Tylec said. Although DLV wasn’t represented at last week’s first public meeting on winnowing the list of grant funded projects, there’s still time, since the final list won’t be sent for state approval until July, Tylec said. 

The 88 units at 600 River Road – a pair of four-story, 36-unit buildings, along with a couple of two-story townhouses, each with eight units– also cost about $20 million. They have been fully rented, although a few spaces may be available at any given time as people come and go, Celik said. 

“They did a really nice job on it. Aesthetically, it looks pretty beautiful,” 

Tylec said. “They allow public access.” 

The 111-unit building at 624 River Road will use a similar architectural style, Celik said. The apartments will vary in size and offer one, two or three bedrooms. 

About one-third of the ground floor will be used for a parking garage, Celik said. 

Once all approvals and financing are in hand, ground could be broken this fall. The five-story building will take about 18 months to complete, Celik said. 

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