The redevelopment group that is buying the former Record Theatre complex has signed four retailers as the first tenants for space in the new $6 million mixed-use project.
GObike Buffalo and Reddy Bikeshare, Gutter Pop Comics, a new record shop and Fry Baby Donut Co. will occupy more than half of the available commercial space, helping to reactivate the 33,000-square-foot building on Main Street that has been vacant since the store closed two years ago.
"We're excited about the emerging tenant mix," said Jason Yots, president of Common Bond Real Estate. "We hoped to attract community-focused organizations to this site. GObike and Reddy Bikeshare fit that bill perfectly, given their neighborhood-building activities on both sides of Main Street."
GObike and Reddy will collaborate to provide retail, office, classroom and workshop spaces oriented toward bicycles. Officials from the two organizations said the "new location will bridge the gap between educational and cultural institutions throughout the city," as well as between various communities, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the Northland Corridor, University Heights and University at Buffalo.
“Our organizations’ shared space will foster better collaborations, allowing both of our organizations to improve access and reach new audiences throughout the region," said Justin Booth, executive director for GObike. “A dedicated educational space will allow expansions in GObike’s programming such as Recycle a Bicycle and adult education to help all road users interact in a safe manner.”
Community members and students will also have better access to the combined space. “This evolution of our partnership with GObike means an enhancement of support and encouragement for biking and bike sharing as a form of transportation, recreation and fitness in the city of Buffalo,” said Jennifer White, marketing and communications director for Reddy Bikeshare.
Meanwhile, Gutter Pop will move its comic book store from its current location on Elmwood Avenue and will share the new building's restored automobile showroom with the as-yet unnamed record shop that will be owned and operated by Mark Costantino. The record store will specialize in records, CDs and other music merchandise, including record players, literature and T-shirts.
“The record store will be a community friendly atmosphere that will cater to fans of any genre of music,” Costantino said. “It will be a place that anyone from the most experienced music fan to the most casual will feel comfortable.”
And Fry Baby, which is also now on Elmwood, will move and open an expanded vegan donut shop with a full coffee menu.
The development team of young developers, urban planners and historic preservation specialists – led by Yots – is buying the property at 1786 Main St. from the estate of former Record Theatre owner Leonard Silver, who operated the business for over 40 years until his death in 2017. Closing is expected this fall, with construction to begin in early 2020, under BRD Construction as general contractor.
Plans call for converting the facility, at Main Street and Lafayette Avenue, into a combination of 15 market-rate apartments, offices and retail space, using state and federal historic tax credits while bringing back some of the exterior features that have been hidden for decades under the yellow corrugated metal.
Dubbed "The Monroe Building," the adaptive reuse project will harken back to the 1920s-era building's first occupant, the Charles F. Monroe Motor Co. Designed by G. Morton Wolfe, the building was later occupied by Ford Motor Co. in the 1930s and then by other automobile showrooms until Silver bought it.
Besides Yots' firm, the development group also includes Bernice Radle's Buffalove Development, Derek King and Michael Puma from Preservation Studios and Travis Gordon and Richard Rogers of Urban Vantage.
"One of the biggest things we were hoping for were ‘destination’ tenants that appeal, not just to neighbors, but to folks all over the city," said Rogers, principal at Urban Vantage. "Both Gutter Pop and Fry Baby will bring people from all corners of Buffalo, and also will add a unique cafe option for the area. We're also thrilled to be able to add to the building’s record store legacy with Mark’s new record shop.”
The developers spent several months lining up the tenants, but there's still commercial spaces remaining that are available for lease, ranging in size from 500 to 3,000 square feet. The developers said they are particularly interested in coworking, child care, restaurant and fresh food or grocery businesses. Interested businesses can contact King at 725-6410, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.