|By Jonathan D. Epstein, The Buffalo News,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 24, 2011--Rocco R. Termini's planned $40 million redevelopment of the former Hotel Lafayette moved a big step closer to reality Monday, as the developer completed his purchase of the landmark downtown building.
Termini's Signature Development of Western New York paid $500,000 to buy the 107- year-old property from Alphonse Hotel Corp., an investor group based in New York City.
That frees him up to start work immediately on the seven-story historic building at 391 Washington St.
Termini, who first talked of buying it two years ago, had previously detailed plans to convert the Lafayette into an apartment building and one-stop destination for weddings.
Specifically, he plans 115 market-rate apartments -- 67 one-bedroom units and 48 two-bedroom units -- that will range in price from $895 to $1,195 per month. A model apartment will be available within 60 days, he said, and he hopes to start signing leases shortly afterward.
The building will also include a 34-room boutique hotel, banquet facilities, Andrew's Jewelers, Get Dressed Tuxedos, Michael A's Steakhouse, Woyshner's Florists and a Butterwood Desserts outlet. The Lafayette Tap Room will also reopen on the first floor, managed by the owners of the Pearl Street Brewery & Grill, while another banquet facility will be run by William J. Koessler, former owner of Park Lane Catering in the Statler and new owner of Harry's Harbour Grille.
Termini has already received an $800,000 loan from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency to assist with the effort, he said, and he hopes to open in June 2012, as the Hotel at the Lafayette.
"It just takes that long to put all the pieces together on these projects," he said. "It's been a long haul. I'm happy that we're at the end of it. I'll be even happier when we open."
Designed by Louise Blanchard Bethune, the nation's first female professional architect, the Hotel Lafayette was supposed to open in 1901 to provide upscale lodging for the Pan-American Exposition but was delayed until 1904. It continued for many years as a grandiose hotel but eventually deteriorated.
More recently, it has served as a single-room occupancy building, mostly for residential short-term emerging housing for clients of social services agencies. It has 367 rooms.
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