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Strong response to property sale leaves Simon Electric owner considering options

Four months ago, the owner of a significant chunk of downtown Buffalo real estate put his 1.8 acres of land up for auction in a bid to cash in on rising property values in the city’s core.

Bert Simon, owner of Simon Electric Co., had hired CBRE-Buffalo to market the commercial real estate portfolio in the central business district, consisting of seven buildings with 80,500 square feet of space.

CBRE and Simon issued a “call for offers” by the end of the day on Dec. 12, seeking to maximize potential interest through urgency. No minimum bid was set.

Since then, nothing but silence.

Local real estate developers have been eager for news of a decision, but there’s been no word from Simon or CBRE. A source familiar with the process said the auction drew “quite a number” of bidders for the land, which mostly fronts on Ellicott, Huron and Oak streets.

"There’s a bunch of people that have shown interest," Simon confirmed. "I don’t have anything definitive at this time. It’s up in the air yet."

The source said that CBRE brokers will be meeting with the Simon family at the end of this week. But even then, a formal sales contract would still have to be negotiated, leaving bidders still in limbo.

The auction comes as the downtown Buffalo real estate market continues to boom amid the redevelopment wave hitting the city. Prices have increased as the city’s revival has driven higher demand for available buildings and land.

And Simon’s properties have been cited by local economic development officials as prime sites, especially given the activity along Ellicott Street, which is being eyed by city leaders for streetscape and building enhancements. The street already has seen new bars, restaurants, a medical office building, a co-working facility, a pocket park next to the library and a pending 201-unit affordable apartment building with a grocery store that are now under construction.

 "We’re in a good area. It’s an up-and-coming area in downtown Buffalo," Simon said. "This is an excellent location down here, and we’re going to wait and see what the traffic allows here."

Simon says: Nearly 2 acres for sale in downtown Buffalo

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