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Judging by other cities’ examples, a downtown Buffalo supermarket could work

Buffalo hopes to see a huge boost from a downtown supermarket, said Mayor Byron W. Brown, who on Friday announced plans to lure such a developer for a 2.5-acre site bordered by Ellicott, Clinton, Eagle and Oak streets.

Other cities have seen major benefits from attracting food stores.

Constantino’s Market in downtown Cleveland was credited with sparking a section of the city’s rebirth when it opened 10 years ago in the Warehouse District.

The full-service store, which skews upscale and is located on the lower floor of a brick building with condominiums and apartments above, nearly doubled in size five years ago to 12,000 square feet, serving a growing downtown population.

“I think it’s partly because of Constantino’s that more people have moved downtown, and continue to do so,” said Patrick Leigh, the store manager.

“A lot of people starting professional careers want to be able to live and work downtown, and not have to get in a car and drive 45 minutes in traffic if they don’t have to.”

Last year, a second, larger grocery store opened in downtown Cleveland to meet the growing demand.

Rochester got its only downtown supermarket nine months ago, near the Eastman School of Music. The market offers a variety of foods, from organic products to more conventional offerings.

Colleen Griffin-Underhill, a Buffalo native who is general manager of the 20,000-square-foot Hart’s Local Grocers, said a food store was badly needed.

“It’s been fantastic. There is so much happening downtown, with so many more opportunities for people to live in the city than there used to be,” Griffin-Underhill said. “They can walk here, they can bike here, and on top of it are the people who work here and can stop in on their way home.”