Tonawanda News — More than seven years after Kissling Interests purchased the mostly vacant Remington Rand building on Sweeney Street in North Tonawanda and pumped more than $25 million in renovations into the historic location, the investment is paying off with an award from Preservation Buffalo Niagara.
Preservation Buffalo Niagara has named the Remington Lofts as one of 16 buildings and individuals to be recognized at its annual awards luncheon Friday at Kleinhans Musical Hall in Buffalo.
The exact award the building will receive won’t be announced until Friday, part of a new initiative by Preservation Buffalo Niagara to hand out more than one yearly award for the first time in its history.
“Our committee decided it would be nice if we could expand the number of people who got publicly recognized for their projects,” said Richard Baer, life trustee of PBN and chairman emeritus of Baer and Associates.
There are a variety of categories with tiers of awards — terra cotta, silver and bronze — within each. The Remington Rand building is being honored as an adaptive reuse project.
Baer said he once worked in the North Tonawanda building when it was still being used for manufacturing and was impressed by the level of reconstruction that went into its overhaul by Kissling Interests.
“It’s a building that someone could have easily said ‘Let’s just blow the whole thing away and start from scratch,’ ” he said. “From my vantage point they won out over other similar projects because after we went out there it seemed to have the most influence on the surrounding neighborhood.”
Kissling said it was the surrounding community that initially drew him to the project. He first heard of the mostly vacant building in 2003 and was immediately intrigued by its location.
“It’s between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It’s just a great little town ... you have the Riviera Theatre, which is a great place, a lot of bars and shopping in Tonawanda across the bridge,” Kissling said. “The location is great and I think North Tonawanda will be the next little Ellicottville.”
“It’s probably the only building in North Tonawanda you could do this to,” he added, saying that when it comes to repurposing Brownfield sites, his biggest concern is the location. “Whether you do a renovation in the worst area or in the best, it doesn’t cost one cent more.”
Baer said the reason the Kissling project is being recognized is because of the lengths to which the developers went to maintain the building’s historical appeal. Kissling received historic tax credits for its renovation, meaning the developers had to maintain the historical integrity of the building.
Kissling said they used old photographs of the building to keep things as close to original as possible, including maintaining the building’s loading docks. What he liked, though was the original 13-foot high ceilings and large windows that came with original building, which he referred to as a “day factory.”
“They used it during the day and when it got dark they closed down, so the whole building was windows,” Kissling said. “The apartments are incredibly bright.”
Baer commended the developers, who he said “did an awful lot of planning” in restoring the building, maintaining its historical integrity while making it fresh and modern.
“It’s got an edginess that a new building wouldn’t have,” he said, adding that it’s compatible with with its surrounding area and “doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.”
Tickets to Friday’s awards luncheon cost $75 for members and $100 for non-members. Visit www.preservationbuffaloniagara.org for information on purchasing tickets.
Contact Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116, or follow her on Twitter at @DanielleHaynes1.IF YOU GO • WHAT: 2013 Preservation Awards Luncheon • WHEN: Noon Friday; networking begins at 11 a.m. • WHERE: Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo • COST: $75 for members, $100 for non-members • MORE INFORMATION: Call 852-3300, or visit www.preservationbuffaloniagara.org