Silo City may soon be a neighborhood, not just a cultural activity center. A $100 million development plan for the waterfront industrial site is moving forward.
Some people see the old concrete grain elevators near Ohio and Childs streets in the Old First Ward as just some historical junk from the days when Buffalo was a major grain and wheat port. In recent years, many others have seen Silo City as a cultural center, for music, historical exploration and the outdoors.
Now a Miami developer and the owner of the property are linking up for a major mixed-use development of the site, an eventual $100 million development .
Rigidized Metals owner Rick Smith has gradually assembled ownership of many of the old grain elevator complexes along a vast curve of the Buffalo River.
One remains open and the others have been turned to various cultural activities, along with many of the decaying buildings on the land Smith named Silo City. He has also created activities on the water, like this weekend's Riverfest Regatta.
Now he is working with Generation Development Group to convert a vast conversion of buildings on the site into mixed-use housing.
"The more we talked and just kind of had a creative session on his vision versus our vision versus kind of what we kind of think about for housing and economic development," said Generation Managing Partner Anthony Ceroy. "There was a really great synergy or ideas and we felt that we were a group that could help him kind of launch into something a little bit more robust than what he has already done which is amazing and transformative."
Generation Development Managing Partner Marvin Wilmoth said the silos would stay as they are.
"We think the silos also add a very interesting element, but we wanted to make sure that we preserve the historic integrity of those buildings," Wilmoth said. "So we're looking at the warehouses as being residential activations on the upper floors with amenities for the residents and for the community at large also available, and then potential commercial or community activations on the ground floor."
Wilmoth said it is early stages yet for specific plans, but financing, designs and the City Hall process should allow building next summer. That is a $40 million Phase One, with two later phases eventually bringing the project nearly 400 apartments at a cost around $100 million.
He said all of the development along Ohio Street makes this a good neighborhood for investment and living, with bus routes out front. The goal is to center the project on the arts.
"What you'll see is we'll really start engaging with a lot of the creative community as they are on site,": Wilmoth said. "We've already started to have some of those conversations, but what you'll see is we'll start to have many more of those and there are a number of organizations, both educational and artistic, that are doing programming on the site and we're going really make sure that we engage with them to help preserve those uses."
The project was before the City Planning Board Monday and will be back in a few weeks.