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West Side Bazaar makes plans for new home on Niagara Street

West Side Bazaar makes plans for new home on Niagara Street

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Covid-19 set back by a year the West Side Bazaar's plans to move to a new home on Niagara Street.

Now the business with immigrant- and refugee-run restaurants and retail booths is getting back on track.

With some luck, the nonprofit organization hopes to break ground this summer on the new West Side Bazaar building and open in late fall 2022. Architectural renderings were shown at an open house Wednesday evening and officials discussed proposed improvements at the new location and sought feedback.

"We're really excited about the project and are moving everything we can to move it forward," said Carolynn Welch, executive director of Westminster Economic Development Initiative, also known as WEDI. 

"But there is obviously some time between now and completion," she said, “so nothing is really set in stone yet."

The food and retail business, which helps immigrant and refugee businesses get a start, is moving from Grant Street to a new home at 1432 Niagara St. 

A rendering showed a two-story building with lots of windows and color, including a mural on a side wall, though the concept could still change.  

Plans call for doubling the number of restaurants to eight, up from four at the Grant Street location. The floor space, which will include retail vendors, will go from 3,200 square feet to 9,000 square feet.

The new space, being designed by CJS Architects, will offer more storage room for retailers' stock and goods, plus more seating space for diners, with occupancy rising from 50 to 82.

There will also be more opportunities for entrepreneurs to move into the West Side Bazaar. There are currently 40 on the waiting list, Welch said.

A second floor is expected to offer a variety of services, such as hairdressing and tax services. 

The expanded space will allow for a test kitchen, community gathering space, and cooking classes and special events for adults and children.

Garage doors in the front of the building are expected to make outdoor dining and shopping possible when the weather is nice.

Welch said it's a win-win for Buffalo in other ways, too. An economic impact study WEDI commissioned found that a new West Side Bazaar could generate at least $34 million in Western New York over five years.

The vacant cherry-red building was built in 1920, when it opened as the Bison City Storage & Transfer Co. Later, it was home to a meat supply business.

Welch said she's not worried about losing customers with the move from Grant, where more than 40 businesses have worked since the West Side Bazaar opened there in 2012.

She thinks the Niagara Street location is more accessible. And she likes the recent improvements to the street and other changes occurring there.

"I am really excited about what's happening on Niagara," Welch said.

Although construction and fundraising were delayed, the West Side Bazaar weathered Covid-19, losing only two tenants. One, Kiosko Latino, moved into its own space on West Ferry Street, just around the corner.

The West Side Bazaar continues to operate carry-out only, something Welch said may continue in the new building, depending on the state of Covid-19.

Mark Sommer covers preservation, development, the waterfront, culture and more. He's also a former arts editor at The News. 

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