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Jacobs' Avalon Development adds to Main Street holdings

Buffalo developer Christopher L. Jacobs is adding onto his downtown Buffalo holdings with the purchase of a sixth building in the city's Theater District.

Jacobs' Avalon Development has acquired a two-story building at 678 Main St. for $300,000 and plans a total overhaul. The vacant building from around 1900 features an ornate terra-cotta facade with three storefronts and large second-floor bay windows. It gained notoriety in recent years as the home to the Groove Club and OPM Lounge.

The co-located nightclubs had their city operating licenses revoked in 2007 following a series of violent incidents, including four shootings, which took place in and near the venues.

Jacobs said he's been eyeing the 17,000-square-foot building since the nightclubs closed, and decided to make his move after learning it was about to go into foreclosure.

"It's a beautiful building with lots of potential. It's going to take a total-gut rehab to get it there, but it has a lot going for it," said Jacobs, whose downtown portfolio includes a string of four buildings in the 700 block of Main Street, all of which have required extensive renovations.

The property also includes a 25-car parking lot at the rear of building along Pearl Street.

The developer said he's considering several potential reuse combinations, including first floor office or retail, with loft apartments upstairs, or commercial uses on both floors. Among the factors Jacobs is weighing in his reuse strategy are the futures of the adjoining historic buildings.

Plans have been floated for ambitious commercial/residential conversion projects at 674 Main St., a five-story building housing Tent City-Washington Surplus, and at 686 Main St., the three-story former home of Sid Birzon Jewelers. While local development agencies pledged funding for those rehab projects over two years ago, neither of the buildings' owners have started reconstruction.

Jacobs also confirmed he has signed a retail tenant to his building at 715 Main St., at the corner of Tupper Street. Buffalo attorney Eric Genau plans to open City Wine Merchant at that location in early June.

The 2,000-square-foot store will offer a range of wines and stage tasting events.

"We want to be a little different from other wine sellers by offering a cool, urban wine buying experience, with value at every price point," Genau said.

Jacobs is currently giving the building an interior and exterior facelift. A new brick facade with new windows facing Main Street are being added. Jacobs is also seeking a tenant for a 2,500-square-foot retail space on the Tupper Street side of the building.

Jacobs began buying and rehabbing in 2003 when he revamped the Stokes Seed Co. building at 737 Main St. He's also acquired and repurposed buildings at 721, 723 and 741 Main St.


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