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Tod Martin Group eyes idle Wendy's

A vacant Main Street building that spurred hamburger connoisseurs to chant "Where's the beef?" in an earlier era would become a headquarters for a fast-growing communications company under a plan filed Friday in City Hall.

The Wendy's restaurant at 477 Main St. in the heart of the central business district has been empty for a decade. The Tod Martin Group hopes to move into the two-story structure by the end of the year. It owns the site and plans to spend about $500,000 on renovations.

The branding and advertising firm is currently located in the headquarters of New Era Cap Co. at 160 Delaware Ave. Company owner Tod Martin said the ongoing expansions of his firm and New Era are spurring the move.

"We're pretty much growing on top of each other," Martin said Friday.

The Tod Martin Group has seen its payroll double to 35 employees over the past few years, the owner said.

This isn't the first time the company has proposed moving into the empty downtown restaurant. A similar plan was proposed in 2008, but Martin said the firm decided to locate in the New Era building, which continues to be a major client.

The interior of the old Wendy's has been pretty much gutted, Martin said. The space will be converted into studios for designers, offices for account managers and executives and even an in-house photography studio.

The design blueprints prepared by Carmina Wood Morris includes a central atrium opening that will bring in natural sunlight from a skylight. The architecture firm has been a key player in numerous downtown renovation projects, including plans to transform the vacant Hotel Lafayette into a $40 million apartment complex and "one-stop" wedding destination.

The project proposed at the Wendy's site is expected to be reviewed by the Planning Board at a September meeting. The panel must approve a design and site plan before the project can proceed.

The Tod Martin Group is celebrating its 10th anniversary and has numerous local and national clients that include the Buffalo Bills.