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Monday, April 12, 2010

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Bekah Russell, left, joins Steve and Melissa Delmonte in touring one of the lofts in 257 Lafayette Center, the former Annunciation Catholic School, during Friday's grand opening.
Bill Wippert/Buffalo News

Former school begins new life as apartments, businesses

257 Lafayette Center wins design honors


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A former Catholic school celebrated its grand opening Friday as a mixed-use building.

The former Annunciation school and Lafayette campus of the Catholic Academy of West Buffalo is now 257 Lafayette Center, home to 20 loft-style apartments and 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

The building won National Historic Landmark designation, which provided tax credits and helped attract initial investors. It also received an award from the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association Trust for sustainable design. Its green features include Energy Star certification, solar panels, a high-efficiency radiant heating system and a rainwater irrigation system.

Residential tenants range from their early 20s to mid-60s.

"We've got a really good mix of young and mid-age; I was really surprised by that," said Karl Frizlen, president of Frizlen Group Architects, who developed the project along with builder Paul Johnson. "The older ones came back from the suburbs, who remembered this being a great neighborhood 35 years ago. The younger ones are professionals, some who work in the city; some are from the University at Buffalo; some are young couples."

Frizlen said the revamped school appeals to a large segment of the population priced out of the nearby Elmwood Village, a desirable neighborhood with high rents. Rents at 257 Lafayette Center near Grant Street range from $850 to $995 a month.

All the commercial and residential space has been occupied, contracted during the building's construction last year.

Commercial tenants include Frizlen Group Architects, the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center, Preservation Studios, Upgrade Academics after school care and a law office.

The building also opens its doors to community events, hosting things such as block club meetings.

"We try to integrate ourselves into the community as much as possible," Frizlen said. "It does a lot of good in the neighborhood. There are 50 people in and out of here every day where before there were zero. It creates vitality on the street; it creates a buzz and certainly helps area businesses."



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