It seemed like it popped up overnight: a new 12-story tower on the northern edge of downtown Buffalo. But after three years of work, 500 Pearl is almost a finished product.

"We couldn't ask for a better location," said William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development. "We feel it encompasses everything that we want in terms of being the perfect spot for office, residential and hotel."

Paladino calls it the largest project they've ever done, costing nearly $70 million. It features an Aloft Hotel set to open in March with 110 rooms and picturesque views of Buffalo and Lake Erie.

"We always wanted a downtown location where we could send people and a place that was vibrant and hip and fun and we think we've accomplished that with this location," Paladino said.

There are also 12 luxury apartments. Five of the units have been leased, some for as much as $4800/month. Restaurants and retail shops are in the works on the ground floor, along with a rooftop bar and patio overlooking the city. 

Part of the project includes restoring the century-old building that was once home to the Buffalo Christian Center and Fraternal Order of Eagles. Inside you'll find several banquet rooms, a bar and lounge, and a pool and fitness center. They've also revamped the Forbes theater for concerts and shows. There's even a bowling alley on the way.

"Every room has a different feel so we're confident that people will find a space that fits their needs here," said Justin Zarnoch, 500 Pearl's director of operations.

Paladino says the use of historic tax credits was key in helping this project come to fruition, like many others throughout the city.

"It's led to the success of definitely downtown and now different neighborhoods, especially going from downtown into the East Side now, it's been really nice to see," Paladino said.

The first events at 500 Pearl are booked for February. The hotel is slated to open in March, with the apartments ready soon after that. The rest of the project will be completed in phases until the entire building is finished, which is projected to be by the summer.