A vacant lot in the city becomes a farm

Shipping container at table

A proposed agricultural project on Buffalo’s east side could give new meaning to vegetable shipping.

A community-based nonprofit wants to create an indoor container garden in the Fillmore neighborhood near Broadway Market, using vacant land and its adjacent vacant two-story concrete block building.

Fillmore Farms Community Garden

A rendering of the new Fillmore Farms community garden project on Lombard Street, using 10 shipping containers to hold vegetable gardens.

Zoning Appeal Board

The project would use two underutilized properties to grow fresh vegetables for local restaurants, businesses and the surrounding community in a part of town that has been widely considered a food wasteland.

Designed by Bammel Architects, Mark Herskind’s Mosaic 659 Foundation plan calls for a bed of compacted gravel to be laid on the 0.2-acre site at 205 Lombard St., then erected as a series of 10 containers 40-foot-long shipping door on the surface – parallel to the street and opening toward the building, where an overhead garage door is believed to be, according to documents filed with the city’s zoning appeal board for four gaps.

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Each container would be air-conditioned and include a garden for growing produce all year round, capable of growing 1,000 heads of lettuce. An additional climate-controlled growing area would be located at the rear of the building, along with a central harvesting and packing area and a storage room.

Known as the Fillmore Farms Community Garden, the combined group would amount to a 15-acre farm, but the containers would be temporary and could be moved if needed, with the lot being restored to its current state. The group is also offering to paint murals on the containers and the building “to create excitement for using the project and liven up the neighborhood,” according to the request.

Neighborhood access to vegetables would be available at free or reduced prices. Similar container farms exist in Ellicottville and Clarence. The project also received a $664,000 award from the state’s Buffalo Broadway Fillmore Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.

The Mosaic 659 Foundation has also worked in the past with Jericho Road Community Health Center, which this week began renovations to the new location of its Vive shelter for asylum seekers at 1500 Main Street.

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

• $10 million in Broadway Fillmore grants to boost the Broadway market, affordable housing and childcare initiatives

• Developers launch project to bring historic Silo City back to life

• Another Voice: Silo City aims to advance community collaborations

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


LeChase Building Services

LeChase Construction Services moved its Buffalo-area office just north of downtown Buffalo, taking up space in a larger project it completed in summer 2021 as part of the Elmwood redevelopment Crossing by Sinatra & Co. Real Estate and Ellicott Development Co.

LeChase opened its office at The Pardee, a five-story building at 451 Elmwood Ave., giving it a more visible location and more room for its 30 employees than its former office on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga, across from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The Rochester-based company is ranked among the nation’s largest general contractors, with operations on the East Coast. Among its local projects, LeChase has completed the M&T Bank Tech Hub at Seneca One Tower, Ellicott’s mixed-use projects at 500 Pearl and 478 Main St., and the restoration of the historic Bent’s Opera House in Medina.

He is currently working on the Kiernan Center at Niagara University, the Crosby and Foster Halls at the University at Buffalo, and the redevelopment of John Kam Malt and Kiln House.


Rendering of the Mother House of the Mission of the Mercy of Saint Luke

A rendering of the proposed St. Luke’s Mercy Mission Mother House.

Zoning Appeal Board

What: An independent Catholic missionary group specializing in serving the homeless and others in need is now seeking to build a group home on the East Side for its founder and five other women.

St. Luke’s Mercy Mission and its Street Madonna wants to combine six lots it owns on Sycamore Street into a single half-acre parcel that would be large enough to accommodate its motherhouse, a frame house of wood on one floor with six bedrooms. It would demolish a 2,400 square foot two-family dwelling on the site — between Goodyear and Miller avenues, just south of Walden Avenue — before starting construction.

Site map of the Mother House of the Mission of Mercy Saint-Luc

A site plan for the proposed motherhouse of St. Luke’s Mercy Mission.

Zoning Appeal Board

Tell me more: Designed by Marshall E. Morehouse of Scheid Architectural, the trapezoidal 0.5 acre site at 1342 Sycamore would include the 3,790 square foot main house, a 529 square foot one-story two-car wood-frame garage on the east side, an existing above ground pool and a deck in a back corner as well as a shed.

It would also include two driveways, plus six surface parking spaces on the west side, to be shared with a house at 1340 Sycamore that St. Luke’s also owns.

Elevations of the Motherhouse of St. Luke's Mercy Mission

Elevations of the proposed project of the Mother House of the Mission of the Mercy of Saint Luke.

Zoning Appeal Board

Why is this important: The proposed home comes as St. Luke’s has expanded its services in the neighborhood, where an affiliated spin-off company called Build Promise is working on a new emergency shelter, community wellness and transition center for homeless men, using 16 properties on the corner of Miller and Sycamore.

“This project will bring new residence to the area for those in need,” Morehouse wrote in an application to the Zoning Board of Appeals for four deviations. “Many plots in the immediate area are vacant. This project will bring new developments to this area.”


Keep up to date with the latest economic news from Buffalo Niagara:

Is a long-awaited redevelopment project in Canalside about to startultimately?

An old Southtowns Convent is targeted for conversion into senior housing.

Non-union contractors vows to withdraw from the Bills stadium project. here’s why.

A a federal judge has blocked New York’s plan to issue the first round of cannabis retail licenses in parts of the state, including western New York.

A the company plans to strengthen its battery research and development activities in Sanborn after its owner won a $117 million federal grant.

A a new industrial park is in the works for Clarencewith ten buildings and a solar farm.

Discovery qualified workers to fill vacant positions remains the main challenge for local businesses.

After years of rapid growth, ACV Auctions hit a speed bump.

Perry’s ice cream is plans $18 million expansion of its Akron plant so he can make novelties with Greek yogurt.


Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. When Covid hit, it shut down professional sports. It also essentially shut down sports concession operations in Delaware North: No fans meant no one to buy hot dogs and beer. Now the fans are back and Delaware North’s Sportservice business is also back.

2. “We had high workloads without interruption”: There is a critical need for mental health and addictions workers in Western New York, as two longtime employees in Warsaw said.

3. Buffalo Niagara real estate market cools: But it’s not on the decline like it is in other parts of the country, as mortgage rates rise and the economy slows.

4. Big Wheelbarrow expands into Western New York after 43North win: One of the main goals of Big Wheelbarrow, according to CEO and co-founder Sam Eder: to allow farmers to focus on farming by automating some of the administrative tasks involved in selling their products.

5. After a crippling pandemic, can one of Western New York’s last independent hospitals stand alone? Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has been independent since its founding in 1895, but senior officials are now questioning whether this model will be financially viable in the future.

The Buffalo Next team gives you insight into the region’s economic revitalization. Buy a building? Refurbish a property? do you have a tip? Contact real estate and development reporter Jonathan D. Epstein at 716-849-4478 or email him at [email protected]

Email tips to [email protected]

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