Planning Board approves plans for Seneca One Tower

Feb 14, 2017

The only thing left now is purchasing the building permits, as the city Planning Board yesterday approved the first phase of the vast project to turn Buffalo's tallest building, now known as Seneca One Tower, into a mix of housing, retail and commercial space.


Rendering provides a glimpse at Douglas Jemal's plans for Buffalo's tallest building.

In revealing the $100 million plan, developer Douglas Jemal addressed one key concern: removing the wind-tunnel effect which has long surrounded the tower.

"It's common old horse sense. We're creating screens to block the wind in the tower, not high, eight feet, nine feet. So, it breaks the wind," Jemal said.

"We got that idea when we went to (Toronto) Ontario and we went to the Distillery. And, the streets block a little bit of the wind. So, 75 percent of the wind could be blocked."

Another part of the plan seeks to add a building and open the parking ramp walls at Washington and Exchange to build retail space and 183 apartments.

"We want to make it a pedestrian-friendly environment. We have all these offices around where people live and work there with no places to go. So, take once step at a time and come on and walk on over."

Jemal's appearance on the local development scene has somewhat eased the overriding fear that the city's tallest structure would remain dormant. Still, some found problems with the plans.

"All of the materials and colors you have stucco in two colors, metal panels in six colors and tiles in two colors and original colors," Daniel Sack pointed out during the Planning Board session.

"You have four materials and eight colors and sort of a jumble of patterns. It doesn't really look like you've got separate buildings going on there."

According to Jemal, he's been in conversation with contractors since purchasing the building in September. He'd like to start construction within weeks, with the goal of being open in two years. His developments around the country have 500 retail tenants and he says talks have been going on about bringing some here.