Share this article

print logo

Elmwood Ave. buzz interests investors Out-of-staters lured by quality, low price

Elmwood Avenue is on a lot of radar screens.

It can be measured by new local businesses and particularly, interest from out-of-state investors.

Justin Azzarella of the Elmwood Village Association says some of the attention stems from being named one of the "10 great neighborhoods in America" by the American Planning Association in October.

"The amount of interest in the Elmwood Village, and this street, is huge," said Azzarella, the group's executive director.

Susie Lenahan, a real estate broker in MJ Peterson's new downtown office, concurs.

"The New York-Boston-Philadelphia-Washington, D.C.-type investor just can't believe how inexpensive the prices are here. They're seeing the buzz about Elmwood, and Elmwood has never looked better," Lenahan said.

A New York investment company has bought the Elmwood building that houses Ujima theater and the former Jimmy Mac's and Chef's Deli. Commercial property along Bryant Street, west of Elmwood, was purchased by a Boston company.

The popular shopping district, which is in a continual state of flux, continues to have vacant properties, but some hard-to-rent spaces have recently been leased.

For example:

* Elmwood Market will open in the former DVD Dot storefront near North Street. Groceries, frozen foods, deli items and made-to-order subs are among the expected offerings, along with an outdoor patio and free deliveries to seniors.

Latina's, a supermarket on the same block in Stuyvesant Plaza, closed in April.

"This area is so vibrant, and we really want to be part of this new Buffalo," said Alex Alarshi, co-owner with Dale Ali.

* Village Beer Merchant, locating in the former Chef's Deli, will offer upper-end and specialty beers, as well as a deli counter and pastas.

* Bryant Street Cake Co., 291 Bryant St., will be housed in the former home of the old Buffalo Rome restaurant.

* Hunt Real Estate, at Elmwood and Breckenridge, will open a store for sales and rentals in 2008, allowing window shopping for a new home.

* Evans National Bank will go into the current Elmwood Taco & Subs, which is moving a few doors down to take over a former Burger King space.

* Pano's has received city approval for an expanded, two-story building, with a groundbreaking expected in early spring.

* Bank of America will relocate from Utica Street to an Elmwood storefront vacated almost two years ago by Pier 1 Imports. The bank, which is expected to open in the spring, will have a "faux second floor," a compromise worked out between the bank and the association.

"It's going to look like a two-story building, with the ability to build out if the bank should ever leave," Azzarella said.

* The plaza where Bank of America currently resides, next door to a recently closed Eckerd's drug store, will become a surface parking lot for staff of Women and Children's Hospital.

That decision has drawn a cool response from the association. "Surface parking is not a positive for an urban environment," Azzarella said.

* Bel Cibo, a casual, Italian-American restaurant, opened earlier this month in a location vacated 2 1/2 years ago by Sofra, a Turkish restaurant. It's best known for housing the longtime Soda Bar & Pastry Co. The owners are Marty Palame and Buck Kaber, who also own Mode at Elmwood and Utica.

* The eclectic gift store Neo recently relocated near Elmwood and Utica from its longtime home on Allen Street.

* Firebrand, a sneaker boutique, has opened on Elmwood near Breckenridge.

To boost holiday shopping, the Elmwood Village Association is distributing 46,000 guides about the commercial strip in subscription-based mailings in southern Ontario and Western New York. Canadian shoppers have been pouring into the Niagara Frontier because of the decline of the U.S. dollar.

"There's been a really big uptick in Canadian shoppers," Azzarella said.

A much wider distribution -- as many as 300,000 pieces -- is planned for the spring.


There are no comments - be the first to comment