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Construction Watch: Brodo @ 501 Main Street

Don Warfe’s renovation of the three-story building at 501 Main Street is underway.  Brodo, the popular soup and wine bar co-owned by Warfe, will be opening a take-out only outlet at the Main Street site.  The 6,000 sq.ft. building, purchased by Warfe in October 2008, has been vacant for years and was last occupied by Stewart & Benson Travel Services. 

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The upper floors are being converted into two residential units and the ground floor will include the Brodo space and enclosed parking accessed via an alley off E. Mohawk Street.  Plans call for creating a more welcoming entrance and preserving the building’s historic façade.  Recessed patios behind the facade will overlook Main Street from the second and third floor residences. 

Warfe plans to occupy one of the building’s residential units.  Clinton Brown Company is project architect.

Get connected: Brodo,  716.881.1117; Clinton Brown Company Architecture, 716.852.2020

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Written by WCPerspective

WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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  • lauras

    I’m pleased to hear about Brodo’s plans. Since Chop Chop left Main St., I’ve missed having takeout soup at lunchtime.
    Note: Main St. restaurants Vito’s, Fables (Lafayette Square, in the public library), Sue’s NY Deli and Globe Market have vegetarian soup options. I’m just saying.

  • jimmy

    I hope they stay open after 5:00 PM on weekdays, and have some weekend hours.

  • Perry

    Hoo ray! Looks like a great project for an absolute pathetic strip of Main Street. I love Brodo on Elmwood…hope this new place can find a way to make seated dining.

  • Texpat

    Very cool patios for the apartments.

  • STEEL

    The recessed patios are a mistake. Please reconsider.

  • brownteeth

    Perhaps you can buy the property and design it to your tastes. Or just keep criticizing other peoples property from Chicago.

  • sin|ill

    STEEL-
    please explain why.

  • rb09

    Good luck Brodo.

  • Lego1981

    I’ve been watching this transform for awhile. I peaked inside the other day and it just looks great! Agree with the other comments on longer hours and seated dinning. Would be nice to have dinner on this block as Main is beautiful when it’s all lit up in the evening. But hopefuly the increase customer base can convince Don into seating and dinning.

  • clockhill

    Very nice!
    ” . . . the ground floor will include . . . enclosed parking accessed via an alley off E. Mohawk Street.” Any more info on this?

  • Cardiff Giant

    Does it not pain you to type the same idiotic attempted insult that has been thrown around on this site about 2 million times? It should, because it sure pains the rest of us to have to read it.
    In your two sentence comment, you seem to be trying to make two equally moronic points. First, that there should be no criticism of anything; instead, critics should simply buy/own the thing they are criticizing and do it themselves. Second, that someone should only be able to criticize if they are within a certain number of miles of the location. Do you have an opinion on the Iraq war? Afghanistan? I assume not because you’re in Buffalo and outside the geographic limit.

  • DTK2OD

    Good to see some activity on this block of Main St! Look forward to stopping in once this is complete.

  • jstraubinger

    Let’s hope that this rehab is the start of many rehabs on this block.

  • LovinLivinintheBuff

    Mmmmmmmmmmm soup! And other goodies!
    Love this restaurant and glad their success (I can’t believe how busy the Elmwood location is on a Wednesday night at 8 or 9!) is taking them to new locations. I do hope that if this block of Main gets opened up Brodo’s opening is just the first of many cool things to happen to this block.
    Good luck.

  • STEEL

    Because the building windows will look like they have been blown out. With a dark recessed balcony will make the building look vacant. Also the balconies will not be pleasant outdoor places. They will just be dark nooks. If the entire inner wall is glass these problems might be mitigated but in general you want a bright window with activity directly behind it to enliven a street.

  • KarlMalone

    Then don’t read it. Ignore it and move on to the next comment. Criticism from afar is far flung. Enough with the god-complex.

  • TranspoGuy

    Warfe plans to occupy one of the residential units. Way to put your money where your mouth is!
    I am glad someone is going to be so connected to their property for once. This is going to be a great addition. Any cost estimates on the remaining residential unit?

  • LouisTully

    that entire block on main st is just awful. to walk out of the old genessee/ hyatt and look across the street at that stretch of decrepit buildings is just so sad. i agree with transpo guy. way to put your money where your mouth is, indeed. this is so refreshing to hear. i would love that block to redevelop. i always thought it would be neat to restore that row of old buildings into mixed use. and living next to the nowhere-train would be nice, too.

  • LouisTully

    what about privacy? i understand enlivening an area, but isn’t the privacy sacrificed by a suggestion like yours one of the reasons on the list of people who choose not to live in the city center? right up there with no outdoor space, no parking…
    i understand your point from the aesthetic and planning perspectives. i just don’t think it’s a big enough deal to let the criticism outweigh the praise for a significantly positive development.

  • STEEL

    I did not criticize the development. I just said it could be better and that in general balcony design like this yields a dark dead looking facade.

  • STEEL

    This project will set a great precedent for this block. There has been a lot of propaganda about how these buildings cannot be renovated without massive investment that involves one giant whole block redevelopment by one mega developer who hires one architect. The religion that big is the only way has been discredited but still holds the attention of the power brokers who then feed the magic koolaid to the people. The construction of these buildings is incredibly simple – masonry walls with basic structural infill and a roof. If the city empowered small developers to invest in live work individual restorations on this block the center of the city would be transformed.
    The city needs to stop waiting for the block buster meg developer to show up on this block. Provide the incentives to the small guys and get it done.

  • nick

    I wonder what the impact of the removal of the second and third floor windows may mean to the bottom line of the project. Generally, the windows on a main elevation must be retained in a historic tax credit project, this is a significant change to the building. In the renderings the window systems appear to be completely modern on the upper floors and remove the existing mullions.

  • Cardiff Giant

    Wait, are you criticizing me? How far away are you from me? 10 miles? Is that outside your moron range for acceptable criticism?

  • biniszkiewicz

    I quite like the recessed patios. They’re not a mistake. But keeping the original window frames seems a little weird and unattractive to these eyes. I’m guessing historic preservation issues (an area of expertise of Clint’s) had something to do with maintaining the facade this much.
    As for the views from these patios, they are very, very good. I showed this building plenty of times over the years and the view out the front windows upstairs is the selling point. I love patios/porches in general. The size of these is great. Every apartment everywhere should feature a porch or balcony.

  • biniszkiewicz

    you hit that nail on the head.
    Attention, all you bargain-hunting-wanna-be-developers-someday-blog-readers: You can do the same thing. Buy on this block. Over time the location will become increasingly desirable.

  • brownteeth

    I made the comment because this is the 2nd time in a week STEEL has made a negative remark about someones property. Criticism is fine if you do it constructively and tactfully. For example if he wrote something like, “from an functionality standpoint, it may behoove you to consider the lack of light the recessed balconies will create and consider adding more glass, etc,” instead of just saying their design is a “mistake.”
    As for him being in Chicago, I think it’s disrepectful to the people who still reside in Buffalo to make such suggestions about their properties. If he is such an expert I challenge him to move back here and try to buy & renovate property and deal with all the B.S. that both Buffalo and NYS residents have to go through in that process. It’s easy to criticize from afar when you don’t have to deal with those issues daily.
    Normally I respect and agree with most of STEEL’s comments but lately he’s been a bit of a hypocrit. He criticized a local guy’s lighthearted mock YouTube video of Buffalo’s blight but then goes on BRO to seriously criticize people’s personal property because it doesn’t meet his standards.

  • KarlMalone

    I think even if I stood right next to you, somehow you’d be miles away. For the sake of all us: Keep away from schools, although I’m sure the court has already mandated this.

  • hamp

    Let me second STEEL. The recessed balconies are a mistake.
    If I’m living in a loft, especially in the winter, I want to be able to put my nose up to a window and look out. I don’t want to look past a dark recessed space.
    The recessed balconies take the life out of this building. One of the goals of downtown development is to bring life to the street. The recessed balconies wreck that.

  • hamp

    I dare say Chicago has a lot more regulations than Buffalo.
    I don’t care where he lives, I can tell that STEEL’s heart is in Buffalo.
    He’s got a lot of good things to say. And he’s never mean spirited.

  • Lego1981

    I think they would be kind of cool in the warmer months. They are just balcanys.

  • STEEL

    This is a funny statement because on just about every positive post I write someone comes on and says that I am not showing the true crappiness of Buffalo and that BRO does not report anything important like crime and vacancy and corruption. Then if I point out things that have untapped potential that could be better than they are someone comes on and says I am being mean to Buffalo and should stop it.
    That video, by the way, was not lighthearted, it was simply a nasty mockery of Buffalo.

  • jimmy

    What buildings are for sale along Main Street? Doing an internet MLS search reveals one property on the stretch from HSBC to Allen Street. 495 Main Street for $320,000.00.
    What other opportunities are available?

  • STEEL

    The recessed balcony would work a bit better if they just got rid of the windows altogether and left it as one big opening. Projecting the balcony out from the face a little would also help. Then passers-by would get a visual hint at what is going on. leaving the frames without the glass is most likely going to make the building look abandoned.
    Maybe I am wrong but I have seen this detail before and it did not come off good as architecture.

  • biniszkiewicz

    agree wholeheartedly.

  • nick

    Steel,
    My guess is that the design hasn’t been approved. If you look at the renderings, the extant window mullions are not retained, it’s a new aluminum framing system representing the history fenestration. We’re having problems with a similar situation of creating balconies on a building in RI currently. Would you be willing to give up the 40% historic tax credit for the balconies?

  • biniszkiewicz

    Commercial brokers don’t use the MLS. The broker handling 495 (the former BK) is a residential broker. As for other properties, go just across Mohawk next to the old McDonald’s and you’ll encounter two vacant buildings which are available (the former Christian Science building and the one between that and Lafayette Square. Across Main street from those is 472 Main, which is available (white facade). At the northwest corner of Main and Mokawk is a four story building, available. Further up the block on the east side of Main between Genesee and Mohawk (same block front as this building) no fewer than three other buildings are available.

  • LouisTully

    so what would property on this block sell for? because i have a GREAT idea for a muffin place/ pizza place, where the muffins are just the tops and the pizza you can make yourself. i’m sure it’s considerably higher than it should be just because it is smack downtown.

  • brownteeth

    That is precisely why I said I normally agree and respect what you have to say. In this case I just thought you could have showed more class like you normally do and offer up a more positive comment. As for that video, I suppose we will have to agree to disagree as I thought it was comical and did not take it as an insult as you did, to each his own I guess.
    At any rate this seems like a nice development and I am curious to know what the other vacant properties are going for?

  • NBuffguy

    I love the recessed balconies. I love that Brodo will have a much needed location here on Main Stret. I love that more residential space is being created here. And I love that this former eyesore is being cleaned up. I don’t know how we ALWAYS find something wrong with just about EVERYTHING!
    If someone is of the opinion that the recessed balconies should be reconsidered, that’s fine. But it does seem a bit of a dche-bag thing for an individual to believe that his opinion carries so much weight that the person making the investment would go back to the drawing board simply because it was suggested on BRO to do so.
    Can we just celebrate this win?

  • brownteeth

    What will you do with the muffin stumps? Give it to the homeless I hope.

  • ReginaldQMerriweatherIV

    Steel,
    knowing nothing about architecture, I can’t comment about the building. Do you have an online portfolio of your work that you’d be willing to sure so that those of us who are flying blind on this one can have a reference point for your preferred style of design?
    Thanks

  • STEEL

    I would say that most likely once you remove the windows you have already given up the tax credits. Balconies can add value to an apartment. People want some outdoor space even if just to have a grill. These balconies will make the interiors appear dark and will limit views to the exterior though which may hurt.
    Anyway sorry for posting my opinion in the opinions portion of this post.

  • NorPark

    Top of the Muffin to ya! I was actually thinking of opening a Pakistani restaurant.

  • LouisTully

    What’s with the exclamation point, Mr. Lippman? It isn’t “Top o’ The Muffin TO YOU!”
    No, I was thinking maybe I could use the muffin stumps to fill in the Niagara River; then we wouldn’t need to worry about a bridge anymore.

  • jimmy

    I am unfamiliar with commercial real estate, as you can tell by my ignorance in searching via MLS.
    What are the prices of the buildings and where would one go to inquire further without wasting the time of a Realtor?
    I have always been interested in rehabbing downtown, and have a friend who does commercial development for a living in another city. We’ve talked extensively about Buffalo, but he isn’t here yet and I don’t want to waste a Realtor’s time on something that may be out of my price range (approximately $350K) or being pursued by another party.
    Thoughts?

  • grad94

    i’ll frame it positively, steel. you’re smart and committed to buffalo. we wish you’d move back because, well, we’ve grown to like you. we feel like we know you. plus we’d benefit from your insights & energy in the flesh not just on our screens.

  • ltrcr

    let’s clear this up. First of all, the balconies are recessed back only 8 feet. There is a glass wall the entire length and height of the new facade. There is plenty of light, believe me, and looking out does not give the impression of looking through a dark cave. On the contrary, the view is quite impressive. From the outside, why not wait until the project is finished in its entirety before judging? The mullions between the windows are there because the building is in a preservation district and these must remain. And the aluminum wrapped around the mullions are existing. It has nothing to do with the tax credits, although, we are very happy that they do exist. The building will look “lived in” once someone is living in it. Until then, it may look dark and lifeless, but with window boxes, plantings, lighting, furnishings, this building will look more than alive, it will look fantastic. You can’t make an honest interpretation of a project until it’s completed in it’s entirety.

  • ltrcr

    are you interested in renting the 2nd unit?

  • hamp

    Only 8 feet? That’s a lot. The balconies will create a dark hole on the front of the building. Not to mention that balconies are inappropriate for this part of Main Street.
    And it will completely change the look of the building. Doesn’t seem like historic preservation to me.
    Why do we judge when it’s not finished? Because we’ve been here before. Based on experience, some of us can predict what the outcome will be by looking at the drawings.
    For example, it was obvious from the renderings that the B-P was going to be an ugly wall. We didn’t have to wait for it to be finished to know that. Now it’s built. It’s ugly. And it’s too late to change it.
    I’m all for redevelopment. But I hope you reconsider the balconies. Besides, in my opinion, you’ll have an easier time filling these units if you had windows right on the street.

  • assaroni

    Looks plenty bright behind the front windows, not sure what he’s talking about. There are floor to ceiling windows recessed behind the front.
    Alot brighter than the jail cells our buffalo politicians are going to be in soon

  • hamp

    The existing photos show how dark it will look behind those “windows”.
    A design has a lot to do with how successful a project is (financially, etc).
    In my opinion, the design of these patios/windows will limit the success of this development.

  • biniszkiewicz

    Don’t worry about wasting a realtor’s time here. It wouldn’t take long to see a building or two. The former Christian Science Monitor building is available for an asking price of $425k. The building adjacent to that is $250k. I think 472 Main (across the street) is around $400k. The former BK is asking $320, the one across Main (next to Paladino’s Berger redo) is in the same ball park.
    Best thing you could do would be to tour all the buildings. Give yourself a month or so and see every place between, say, Genesee and Lafayette Square. You’ll gain perspective about the relative merits of each property.

  • nick

    Is the project rescinding it’s application for historic tax credits? I’ve never known of a project to be approved with the removal of all windows on its primary elevation.

  • assaroni

    thats just ignorant hamp… limit the success of a 6000sf development? my house is that size…it’s a damn bldg on an empty Detroit like street…be happy don warfe has the cojones to invest a penny

  • STEEL

    Anyway, Its still a good thing for Buffalo and this block even with the balconies. Now what can we do with that nasty Burger King? Isn’t it odd that no one ever wants to tear down trash like that?

  • sonyactivision

    I like those patios too. So long as this business respects the overall integrity of the building, I’m happy with them doing whatever’s necessary to be a success and it will be great to sit on those patios and enjoy the summer air. I wish them well.

  • Dan

    Two things I always tell the elected officials and city managers of the communities I’ve worked with:
    1) Few buildings are truly temporary. Once you allow something to be built, you’re going to have to live with that building for 50 to 100 years, at least.
    The “taxpayer strips” of the 1920s were intended to be temporary, to be replaced with two-story buildings in a decade or two. Many taxpayer strips in Buffalo’s outer neighborhoods and inner ring suburbs are still standing. Modern commercial and industrial buildings are often thought of as being short-term disposable, but in reality only a very small percentage ever see a demolition crew.
    2) Architectural standards and the development review process should encourage the construction of buildings that would be worthy of preservation efforts generations from now.
    Unfortunately, they seldom listen.

  • ltrcr

    Nick, you seem like a very knowledgable man, however, the tax credits require that you not alter the “window openings”, not the windows themselves. As you can tell, the window openings are still intact. Also, you should know that these windows are not original, that is quite obvious. So, in answer to your question, tax credits are being applied for and have been approved. The preservaton board requested some glass be left, that is why the upper panels have been left and there will be glass railings on the lower sills of the window openings giving the impression of windows. The city of Buffalo along with the Preservation Board are extremely happy with the design as are we.

  • ltrcr

    Hamp,Would be glad to meet with you, get some of your money so that we can do things your way. So far, I can’t see anything that is “wrecked”. Can’t you all wait until the project is complete, then cast your stones. And as far as I can see, any development on vacant Main Street is positive, you have to agree with that?

  • ltrcr

    Hamp,
    Not being an architect, what is a B-P and what ugly wall are you refering to? As far as a “dark hole”, I invite you to see the project, I think you will change your mind. There is so much light in both flats, one may need sunglasses to simply make a pot of coffee. Please save your negative comments for projects that are complete. Give some more time to finish, then I welcome all your criticism.