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Martin Group acquiring landmark building on Main Street

Two years after moving into its current downtown Buffalo address on Main Street, one of the area’s fastest-growing marketing and public relations firms is making a second commitment to Main Street, acquiring a landmark building with a history in advertising.

The Martin Group has signed a contract to buy the former home of Levy King & White at 620 Main from Larkin Development Group principals Howard A. Zemsky and Joseph A. Petrella. That will almost double the firm’s space, which is needed because the Martin Group has grown rapidly in the last two years through a pair of significant acquisitions and an expansion into the Rochester market.

Terms were not disclosed, as the purchase won’t close for another 45 to 60 days, said firm owner Tod D. Martin. Evans Bank is financing the deal.

Martin now plans to spend as much as $1.5 million to repair the exterior stone facade and renovate the interior of the 18,200-square-foot building, which has three floors plus a basement level. The building, which dates from 1919, “is in very good condition” but will be “completely stripped down on the interior to the core and redesigned,” while the exterior will be restored “to its original state,” Martin said.

The building is two doors down from Shea’s Performing Arts Center and next to City Centre.

With its four white columns, three-story atrium, outdoor terrace and rooftop stone railing, the majestic-looking white stone building held deep significance for Martin, whose 30-year career in public relations and marketing included a stint at Faller, Klenk & Quinlan, the Amherst-based rival to Levy King, at a time when the two firms dominated the field locally. The building has since been occupied by other tenants and was vacant for a short time before Martin agreed to buy it.

“There’s a history to me personally. There’s a history in the marketing world,” he said.

At the same time, the new location will be in the heart of activity in downtown Buffalo, with the city’s Cars Sharing Main Street project bringing back traffic to the thoroughfare for the first time in decades.

“The timing is right to own property and be part of the resurgence of the city in downtown Buffalo,” Martin said.

The acquisition and relocation comes as the Martin Group has outgrown its existing space at 477 Main, near Mohawk Place, and two adjacent buildings. Martin acquired the firm’s primary 6,000-square-foot building eight years ago, after it had been vacant for 10 years, but “sat on it” for several more years before investing in significant repairs and renovations – including adding a floor – and then occupying it.

But in the last 18 months, Martin acquired former industry leader Travers Collins and then Davison Public Relations, adding to its staff, client list and services. It also now has an office in the Rochester suburb of Victor, with 10 employees, on top of the 45 in downtown Buffalo.

To accommodate that growth, the firm took over 3,000 square feet of space on two of the three floors of 487 Main, which is owned by Rebecca McCauley, to house its public relations and Web development teams. It also took up 1,200 square feet in Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s Lafayette Court Building.

With the purchase of the new building, Martin can reunite his company within a year. “It’s important that we collaborate and are under the same roof,” he said. “I’m looking to create something pretty special in this building.”

Meanwhile, he said he plans to find a real estate partner to help him lease out 477 Main.