New Business Coming to 500 Block of Main Street | News
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- On the same day Buffalonians learned the region missed out on a large convention due, in part, to organizers' concerns about the blight on the 500 block of Main Street, 2 On Your Side found out about more development downtown.
Sandra Wilkins recently purchased the property at 537 Main Street, which is on the corner of Main and Genesee. The three-story property will feature a French-style cafe on the first floor, and Wilkins said she and her husband will live on the top two floors.
Wilkins met Thursday for the first time with her newly-hired architect. He will begin developing plans.
Wilkins' current home on Grand Island is now on the market.
"Being downtown has a vibe," Wilkins said. "You can walk to the store. You can walk to the bank. You can walk to the dry cleaner. And I'm trying to find all those businesses to move right on my block."
Wilkins joins a few other local entrepreneurs who are working hard to turn around the struggling block.
She hopes to have her restaurant open as early as "Curtain Up", which takes place in September.
Asked why she would invest in a block that still has many challenges, Wilkins said it's been a decades-long dream.
Her property was formerly a flower shop and has been vacant for quite a while. It sits next door to the former Texas Red Hots, which is perhaps the most run-down building on the block.
Currently, 9 of the 14 properties on the 500 Block have vacant or empty storefronts, although a couple of those do have tenants on the upper floors.
2 On Your Side spoke to Rev. Darius Pridgen, who is the council member who represents that part of Buffalo.
He said the city is now aggressively going after out-of-town landlords who have abandoned their properties.
"These folks don't live here," Rev. Pridgen said. "They don't care about buffalo. So they don't care about us. So to me, we have to use every tool that we have in order to bring them to justice or in order to make them pay."
Pridgen said those tools include more inspections, more aggressive fines and also trying to embarrass the owners into doing more with their properties.
The mayor's office said more is happening now on the 500 Block than in decades. The biggest development will be the return of car traffic to that portion of Main Street. Already, $25 million has been secured to pay for that public works project.
2 On Your Side will continue to follow this story that impacts all of Western New York.