I just received word that the Urban Land Institute is heading to Niagara Falls to begin a study of reuse for the balance of Rainbow Centre Mall
. When they're done with the study, can they come to Buffalo and study the Main Place Mall... please? To me, having the outdated and ugly facade stretching its way down Main Street is a real deterrent to downtown progress. Even the back side of the mall is brutal. It's not friendly. It's dark and uninviting. It's boring. It's depressing.
Now that Main Street is being overhauled, with auto traffic (and bike lanes), there should be a push to figure out what the heck to do to make the 'mall' more appealing... both sides, but more importantly Main Street.
The 171,000 sq.ft. mall has seen its tenant roster steadily shrink since AM&A's closed in 1995. Last renovated in 1988 with columned porticos and Main Street storefront canopies, the two-level mall once boasted over 70 stores. Much of the former retail space has been leased to telecommunications firms due the fiber-optic infrastructure in the building.
Main Liberty Group has made inroads leasing office space in the tower with recent deals with law firms Cellino & Barnes and Hamberger & Weiss and the State Attorney General's office. The timing seems right to get some life into the mall, even if only along the Main Street frontage.
Of course it's been three years since that post was written and there are still no signs of renewed life as far as the Main Street facade is concerned, and I'm sure that nobody is surprised by that. Back in 2008 I wrote about the mall
, wishing that something... anything be done to improve the outward image.
The City of Buffalo should be entering into conversations with the building's owner/management to see if there is some sort of solution that can be identified. With millions of dollars going into the street (a major investment), The City should be concerned about protecting its investment. What sort of incentives can be made to turn the 'mall' into a vibrant space? Or at least make it look like it's a vibrant and welcoming space. There must be some creative solutions that would enhance the building, that would also be of interest to the owners/managers (who are probably content filling the building with offices and firms, but may be interested in securing a few retailers). I'm not saying that leasing to non-retail businesses is a bad thing. I am saying that it's time to take pride in our downtown, and it's hard to do that when such a sprawling building looks like the backside of Walmart. Let's get some life back into the streetscape and the Main Place Mall storefronts.
We need to turn dead-looking areas such as this 'mall' (and this
) into vibrant-looking and feeling places. There's a reason that the Main Place Mall has had trouble finding retail tenants over the years. It looks like it is closed.