I’m (Rob – far right) one of the LA investors (pictured with Tatina and Jessica) that Newell and company ushered around earlier this week. I could not have had a better introduction to the city and the various possibilities. Thanks for your wonderful hospitality (Damn Buffalonians are tall, lol).
I’m just back to LA this afternoon and honestly my head is still swimming. I’ve read the above posts and find them mostly well articulated. Some of them I believe to be spot on. ‘Transplant’ in particular seems to understand the process of rebirth and renewal.
Here’s what I think so far:
I think Buffalo has amazing architecture, history, arts, dining, location and proximity to a lot of exciting localities.
I think Buffalo has some truly visionary people working their piece of the puzzle for the betterment of the city.
I think Buffalo – with good marketing – could attract the best and the brightest in the professions and the arts.
I think, however, there are some puzzle pieces missing. I didn’t get a sense that the city/county governments (and I could be wrong, I still have a lot of research left to do) realize the things that make Buffalo special in the new economy is not the traditional industries of manufacturing and big corporations, but arts and entertainment/history and architecture. People tend to move to places where the quality of life is the best for the amount of money spent. I don’t know that I’ve been anywhere with as great of potential as Buffalo in this regard. For me it was painful to see beautiful old houses boarded up and slated for demolition.
I think I sensed a bit of xenophobia of “outsiders” coming into the city. A renter next door to an abandoned house I was wandering around said it best, “Investors from other places buy these houses, rent them out to anybody who’ll take them, keep the money and don’t put anything back into them.” I got the impression that slum lording is running rampant as is squatting, and various forms of lawlessness that come from lack of hope.
I think outsider investors got a bit of a bad name from the above practice and some “activists” have closed their eyes to the potentials of Buffalo and the possibilities that outside interests could bring with them. Just as not every investor does well by the community, not every owner occupant does well by their own properties.
I think change is brewing for Buffalo and those of you who were early adaptors buying and restoring houses, building businesses, and singing the praises of Buffalo are going to reap the rewards of those changes.
I think that often residential neighborhoods change before the commercial businesses around them change. Businesses follow money and then money follows businesses. Smart entrepreneurs see opportunity where there is change and move in to capitalize upon it.
So, I think the first step for many residential areas in Buffalo is to clean up, restore, fix up, and remarket to a more affluent clientele. I suspect the first wave of such people will be artists and gay folk followed by hipsters and an assortment of yuppies. The first waves may bring their own jobs that will flourish and create job opportunities for others. I think corporate headquarters smelling the same changes, offered appropriate incentives, finding inexpensive land and seeing opportunity for low cost housing for their workers will follow that.
I think that Los Angeles and other cities that experienced large gains in real estate value over the past few years will create a market of people disinvesting to go to other places that have the potential to do the same thing and investors unwilling to buy at current prices with the associated high risk and small rewards. I think that younger creative and professional people who are flexible with geography and priced out of more expensive markets are looking for good places to go. Buffalo can benefit from all of these.
I think the people above have money and/or drive, passion and energy to give Buffalo the boost it needs as long as certain forces within Buffalo do not get in the way or provide disincentives for them to do so.
Like I said above, I still have a lot to learn about Buffalo, but I see opportunity on almost every corner…
Btw, my m.o. with investing is to restore (bring back luster, charm and beauty), build community, and market hard.
Black Rock eh?