Buffalo Next: Reoccupying a charter school, Take 2 |

Buffalo Next

Earlier this year, the Buffalo Academy of Sciences Charter School thought it was all set to move into its new high school location – at the former location of Western New York Maritime Charter School.

The highly rated K-12 charter school planned to buy the 81,500-square-foot building at 266 and 288 Genesee St., which has been vacant since 2020. The empty three-story building sits on 1.77 acres of land on the edge of downtown Buffalo, and includes five additional properties on Cherry Street.

Buffalo Academy of Sciences already has an elementary, middle and high school in three other locations, but is working on opening another set of three. It opened a second elementary school in a former convent at 335 Doat St., so the Maritime building was its next target for a high school. And it planned to lease some of the building to Reach Academy Charter School, which is currently across the street at 115 Ash St.

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Former WNY Maritime Charter School building

The Buffalo Academy of Sciences Charter School plans to buy and renovate the former WNY Maritime Charter School building at 266 Genesee Street in Buffalo on Wednesday.

James P. McCoy

But the science academy’s lender insisted on a full environmental study before it would extend the needed loan for the purchase. The school completed the first phase, but its director of facilities and real estate, Murat Kucukdugenci, said that the owner of the Genesee Street property – a company registered to the office of attorney Thomas H. Burton – didn’t want to take the time to go through the longer second phase.

So the school canceled the purchase contract, expecting the seller to change his mind. Instead, the seller turned to a backup option: Reach Academy.

Reach – a five-year-old K-5 school of 480 students that is ready to grow at both ends – now has the same property under contract, with a $12 million plan to renovate it for use as its new middle school. It is also asking the city for a special-use permit, just as Buffalo Academy of Sciences had to do.

It is also buying the one-story former Jefferson Avenue Head Start building at 1424 Jefferson – which had been operated by the Community Action Organization as a preschool from 2007 to 2021. It will initially use it as a “swing building” to house 5th and 6th graders before moving them to Genesee, but then plans to run a similar preschool as CAO, under the charter school’s banner.

The building is located on 0.6 acres at the corner of Jefferson and Woodlawn avenues, with a play area and a parking lot.

Reach says it would occupy vacant property, diversify educational options in the neighborhood to increase confidence in schools, and provide both life skills and a STEM education to students – the vast majority of whom are minorities and economically disadvantaged. It would also be convenient – the Genesee site is directly across the street from its Ash campus.

The school would then have as many as 900 students in grades K-8.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Academy of Sciences is still looking for a high school building for September 2023, Kucukdugenci said.

Want to know more? Three stories to catch you up:

• That ship sailed, as another comes in

• BuffSci plans new elementary school in former Doat Street convent

• Buffalo Academy of Science will stay open after Board of Regents reverses course

Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News will bring you the latest coverage on the changing Buffalo Niagara economy – from real estate to health care to startups. Read more at BuffaloNext.com.

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Slavic Bazaar Euro Delicatessen Store

Then: Andre Teslenko, the longtime owner of the East Side producer and purveyor of pierogi, received city approval a year ago to expand his  business at 1550 William St. The 5,240-square-foot high-bay storage addition would extend the current 9,588-square-foot one-story building back toward Chauncey Street, and give him much more room to store his products on a racking system.

Besides pierogi and other dumplings made on site, the store sells a variety of Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and other products – both canned and jarred – as well as borscht, cabbage rolls and smoked sausage.

Now: That was before Russia threatened and attacked Ukraine earlier this year. According to a letter to the city from architect John A. Lydon, Teslenko – a native of Ukraine – “spent most of the past year overseas helping his friends and families cope with the fallout from the war in Ukraine.” Now that he’s back and ready to begin work, though, he needs an extension from the Planning Board, which meets Monday.


Four local real estate development projects were honored by the regional chapter of the commercial developers’ trade group, which cited them as the best examples of project development and teams that had the greatest community impact.

The Upstate New York chapter of NAIOP-The Commercial Real Estate Development Association last week honored Larkin Development Group’s Millrace Commons, Douglas Development Corp.’s Seneca One tower, Uniland Development Co.’s Hansa co-working project and Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s 201 Ellicott affordable-housing and grocery project.

“It’s the art of development,” said NAIOP Upstate board member Melissa Brinson.


Catch up on the latest news from Buffalo Next:

Cedarland Development Group has purchased three historic Allentown apartment buildings with 35 units for $4 million and plans renovation work that will “highlight the character of the properties while bringing each unit up to date.”

A redevelopment project to a fire-damaged former industrial property on the banks of the Scajaquada Creek in North Buffalo has undergone a series of design revisions, as developer Savarino Companies address concerns raised by neighbors and the city’s Planning Board.

The Tops Markets store on Jefferson Avenue will reopen Friday, two months and one day after 10 people were killed there in a racist mass shooting. 

Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies, is seeking more than $124 million in tax breaks from Niagara County to support the development of a massive, $450 million distribution center in the Town of Niagara.

Buffalo biopharmaceutical firm Athenex is unloading another asset for $19 million, the latest sale the company has made in its turnaround bid

Two retailers in Buffalo Niagara region, including one with four shops in the area, have been ordered by the state’s Office of Cannabis Management to stop the unlicensed sale of cannabis.

The new owner of the Jersey Street Firehouse on Buffalo’s West Side plans to convert the three-story brick building into apartments after a previous redevelopment proposal by another group ran into neighborhood opposition.

Buffalo Transportation Inc. has been suspended from operating its vehicles for 60 days by the state, the result of a penalty long ago imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles that was just recently upheld by the state Supreme Court.

A former church rectory that later became home to the Larkin Men’s Club for workers at the Larkin Co. is getting ready for a new use as market-rate apartments and commercial space, with the husband-and-wife team of Michael Myers and Kayla Zemsky renovating the 696 Seneca St. building.

Shea’s has revived a $26 million plan from a few years ago for a five-story addition with new elevators, concessions, bathrooms and lobby. The project will be in front of the Buffalo Preservation Board on Thursday.

Buffalo Next reporters Jonathan D. Epstein, Jon Harris, Natalie Brophy, Matt Glynn, Janet Gramza and Mike Petro contributed to this roundup.


Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. Eastern Hills Mall owner Uniland Development is preventing the BFLO Store from moving out of its space in the mall and into Transitown Plaza, and has parked vehicles and equipment in front of its door to block them as the two sides fight over who owns fixtures and other improvements made to the space.

3. Which WNY companies’ pollution poses biggest potential public health risk?The Buffalo Niagara region improved when compared to other metropolitan regions in overall total pollution releases to air, water and land – moving from 44th most in the nation in 2015 to 163rd most out of 893 urban areas.

4. Dollar stores are booming: Do these retailers help or hurt communities?: The dollar store industry is one of the fastest growing in the country, often bringing a wide-ranging store to communities and neighborhoods where shopping options are limited. But not everyone is happy.

5. Buffalo Together grant recipients putting dollars behind ideas: The Buffalo Together fund’s mission is to address long-range community needs. But fund leaders also thought it was important to “get money out the door as quickly as possible” and support organizations working on the front lines since the May 14 massacre at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue.

6. St. Joseph Campus has been through many changes over the years: They range from the abrupt transition to a Covid-19-only hospital in 2020 to the ongoing reinvention into an outpatient and ambulatory care center. Constant reinvention is what it takes to fit within the future of health care.

The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Buying a building? Redeveloping a property? Got a tip? Reach Real Estate & Development reporter Jonathan D. Epstein at 716-849-4478 or email him at jepstein@buffnews.com.

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