Plans to renovate one of the oldest former school buildings in the City of Buffalo faces two key votes by city boards in the coming days.

Representatives from developer Douglas Jemal’s team will be asking the Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals and the city’s Planning Board for a series of final approvals that will lead to the conversion of former Buffalo School No. 51 at 101 Hertel Ave. into a 90-unit, market-rate apartment complex.

Jemal will be investing at least $15 million in the project.

The zoning board will consider its actions on April 17 and the planning board will follow with its review and scheduled vote on April 22.

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Jemal was selected from a development request for proposals process that began in late 2022. The RFP was issued by the city’s Office of Strategic Planning.

The three-story, 67,952-square-foot building was constructed in two phases, with the first completed in 1894-1895. The second phase was completed in 1927-1928.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is one of the last and oldest remaining - and fully intact - school buildings remaining in the City of Buffalo. It is also the last of 12 former city-owned school buildings that have sold and renovated - or have renovation plans.

Jemal, according to documents filed with the zoning board of appeals and planning board wants to renovate and convert the building into a complex with 40 studio apartments, 27 one-bedroom units, 22 two-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom unit.

Other amenities include a fitness center and community meeting room.
If approved by the two city boards, renovation work is expected to start later this year and the building should be move-in ready by late 2025 or early 2026.

The project is Jemal’s growing local development portfolio that includes the Seneca One Tower, the Hyatt Regency Buffalo and Richardson Hotel in Buffalo and the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora.

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