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Scott Neal: Well, he's living here in Allentown

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the Neal family to-do list has one task on it: nothing.

That would be the opposite of the rest of the week, with one spouse often on the road working a full-time job, the other spouse staying home to raise 8-month-old twins and both renovating their mid-19th century Allentown home in what can laughably be referred to as their spare time.

And Scott Neal would not have it any other way.

"For all the reasons people want to leave Buffalo -- the grass is greener -- it really didn't hold true for us," said Neal, who graduated in 1987 as the class valedictorian of Frontier High School. "We've had a great experience here."

Neal, an architect and full partner at Wendel Duchscherer, travels a lot with his job, and the construction season is the busiest time of the year in his line of work.

His wife, Michelle, worked as a manager for pharmaceutical and dental companies. These days, she stays home with twins Sawyer and Ella. Keeping up with them is a full-time job, and then some.

But Sunday travels at a slower pace, so the Neals keep their their cars parked and walk to their destinations.

Before strolling off to Betty's on Virginia Street for brunch, the family relaxes in their spacious North Pearl Street home -- the only Queen Anne style on the block, Scott Neal said. They've been renovating and restoring the house little by little for the last seven years.

On the walk home, the couple takes turns pushing the twins' stroller. Along the way, they stop in at a friend's house to catch the score on the Sabres game. Then they check another friend's house to see how renovations are coming along.

"That's what I think makes Buffalo a wonderful place. There's all these little gems that have held Western New York together," Neal said.

Although he enjoys the life he has made for himself in Buffalo, the city is not where he wanted to land after graduating from the University of Illinois. He had fallen in love with Chicago, but couldn't find a job there. He had to move home.

"When I graduated, I was not sure what the future would hold," he said. "You go to college, and I think the last thing parents want is to see you come home."

But he was eventually able to land his first architecture job with Lauer-Manguso. From there, he did a stint at K2M Architects and then landed at Cannon Design, where he worked on the reconstruction of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

In 1998, he went to work at Wendel, where his focus is mainly transportation-related projects all over the world. His specialty is intermodal transportation facilities, which look like train stations from which buses, heavy rails and bicycles can converge and depart from one central location.

A project he headed in Kalamazoo, Mich., that transformed a historic train depot into one of those intermodal facilities recently won design and historic preservation awards.

Scott and Michelle met between Cannon Design and Wendel Duchscherer. They considered relocating to Washington, D.C., for a higher-paying job. But they decided to stay.

Now firmly established as Buffalo residents, the couple also make time for civic endeavors, such as the North Pearl Block Club, helping to elevate the quality of life in their eclectic Allentown neighborhood.

"I don't think anyone can really predict where life takes you, but I have not regretted the circumstances that brought me here and have kept me here," he said.

But why stay?

"Why would we leave? It's working," Scott added. "We are staunchly city-oriented, and Buffalo is phenomenally livable if you can find work. And we like the idea of exposing the kids to many things, like the arts and diversity."

And Sunday strolls through Allentown.

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