Investment on the 500 Block of Main | News
BUFFALO, N.Y. - For at least a decade, the vacant property at 535 Main Street has been an eyesore.
And it still is, but now it appears to be getting what it needs: Someone who's not afraid to look at it through rose-colored glasses.
"It's not in good shape, but the challenge to put it in good shape is the challenge I like," said Kevin Helfer, who has recently purchased the property with his business partner Paul Lamparelli. Helfer is also Commissioner of the city's Parking Department.
"It's had water infiltration. You wouldn't even believe, we haven't even gotten into construction yet, and we've taken out tens of tons of tables and chairs and garbage," said Helfer.
But also like many of its neighboring properties, this building is now under ownership committed to this block and to Buffalo.
Helfer says he's still working out the plans.
"Ideally though, the first floor we'd love retail. And we're going to try to promote it, and we're going to try to reach out to different groups to let people know," said Helfer. "If that doesn't work out, we'll do first floor offices, fourth floor apartments, and I think we all see that. I think there's a huge demand for that, especially upscale apartments."
Because Helfer and Lamparelli are doing most of the work themselves- there are fewer upfront costs. When asked if he thought it was risky to buy the property, Helfer said: "I think there's always an element of risk," but added, "There's not heck of a lot of risk when you're acting as your own contractor. And I think that's why some of these buildings have sat here for so long, because when you have to go out and hire you know, every single facet of the building, these numbers would never work."
Just next door there's a Parisian-style restaurant coming soon, and other signs of life are sprouting up and down the block.
There's even a block club holding a party this weekend. And all this, just as officials announced traffic will be returning soon.
"I think the timing of it is critical," said Helfer. "I think the community involvement is huge."
Helfer says the first priority is to fix up the exterior. After that, he says they'll move to the interior.