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Crowley Webb owners buy Main Street building

Three of the four owners of Buffalo advertising agency Crowley Webb have acquired The Barnes & Hengerer Building in downtown Buffalo from real estate investor and developer Tony Kissling’s Kissling Interests LLC, according to a release from Crowley Webb.

Jim Hettich, Jeff Pappalardo and James Crowley, acting through CW 268 Main LLC, paid $3.1 million to buy the six-story building at 268 Main St., according to Erie County Clerk records.

The 56,208-square-foot building already houses Crowley Webb on the fourth and fifth floors, as well as commercial real estate brokerage J.R. Militello Realty Inc. and Keenan Law Firm on the third floor.

However, the 30-year-old Crowley Webb has been growing, and needed more room to expand, Hettich said in an interview. It currently has 79 employees and is seeking to add more capabilities, particularly in communications and analytics. “We were running out of space,” Hettich said.

The firm, which has leased space in the building since 1993, considered moving out of downtown Buffalo, but “didn’t want to, because of what was happening there,” and also couldn’t find anything “that met our needs,” he said.

“Finally, an opportunity to purchase came up and we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time,” Hettich said. “Now we can guarantee we’ll be in the city core, near the waterfront. It’s wonderful to be able to invest in our hometown and be able to stay put and grow our agency.”

Hettich said Crowley Webb now plans to renovate and occupy the sixth floor as well as the fourth and fifth. It will also seek to find tenants for the entire second floor, and wants a new restaurant in the first-floor space formerly occupied by The Archer and previously by City Grill. There’s also some space behind the restaurant where a coffee shop or similar retailer could locate.

A large Crowley Webb mural already adorns the northern face of the building. Tenants of the Class A office building also has access to a 350-car indoor parking garage and a 150-car surface parking lot.

“It’s exciting and we’ll be actively promoting it and hopefully we can fill it up,” Hettich said. “It’s home base for us, and the opportunity to buy and expand there was just terrific.”

Constructed in 1889 and located near Swan Street in the Joseph Ellicott Historic Preservation District, the red brick commercial building was home to the city’s first William Hengerer Department Store. Designed by Cyrus K. Porter, the building features ornate hand-cut medina sandstone carvings and giant arched windows, with a two-story glass center entrance that has 14-foot ceilings and wide marble columns. Its facade was redone in the 1960s during a modernization effort, although all but the first two floors were restored to the original design in 1990.