Chalk this one up as a win for Mayor Anthony Masiello and Sen. Hillary Clinton. A vacant printing plant will be home to as many as 50 artists who will live and work in the soon-to-be renovated building.
After both Masiello and Clinton asked Minneapolis-based Artspace to consider Buffalo for one of its projects, the developer chose the vacant Breitweiser Printing building at 1219 Main St., between Barker and Bryant streets. This is a $12 million project in what many consider a blighted part of the city, and it'll be the first project in this state for Artspace, which has other similar developments around the country. While it's not exactly in the heart of downtown, it is within reach of the planned Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The five-story, 65,000-square-foot building, which stood as a reminder of Buffalo's decline, now can become a small part of the city's rejuvenation by making it a home and work place for society's most creative people.
Creating space in which artists can live and work can only make the surrounding neighborhood more attractive. What these artists can bring, besides the obvious aesthetics, is a sense of community. What is more, the entrance of Artspace enhances a thriving cultural community made up of the city's many theaters, museums and galleries.
Now that Artspace has chosen Buffalo for this project, its next step is to prepare architectural and construction budgets to be submitted to the state early next year as part of an application for state Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The city is also planning to add $450,000 in federal Housing Opportunities Made Equal money that will defray predevelopment costs.
Meanwhile, Clinton has actively supported the project. She persuaded the Senate Appropriations Committee to give preliminary approval to provide $250,000 to the arts development. That money was included in the omnibus appropriations bill approved by Congress last week.
There aren't too many Geico projects around that can infuse a community with thousands of new jobs. Buffalo's recovery from tough times will more likely consist of many small victories. Bringing Artspace here is one of them.