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This is the first in a series of spotlighting buildings for sale that could help to transform both residential and commercial neighborhoods. We will be looking at buildings on the West Side, downtown, Black Rock, etc. These buildings are in need of an owner – that is clear. Even more than that, these buildings are in need of people with resources and vision. If we can get a few of these structures back into the functioning fabric of the city, then we will have made great strides in helping to mend the neighborhoods that are both on the upswing and in need of an initial catalyst. Most of the buildings that we will be featuring will be brought to us from realtors who have the information that we need to showcase the true nature of the property.
Today’s building is 408 Amherst Street, located directly next to Delish! on Amherst Street. I spoke to realtor Larry Bartolomei who recently moved back to Buffalo from Portland. Larry is a big fan of Black Rock and is focusing much of his effort in selling listings in the district. While Larry was in Portland he paid attention to what was transpiring on Amherst Street, and when he returned he felt that he could help to add to the momentum. The mission here is to find a buyer. At the same time, we also know that there are entrepreneurs who are looking for spaces to locate their businesses. If we can help to play matchmaker for the businesses and the potential buyers who might not purchase a building without a tenant, then so be it. Whether you’re interested in purchasing 408 Amherst, or you have a business that you would like to open inside, feel free to email Larry. The following is brought to you from Larry:
INVEST IN HISTORIC BLACK ROCK • 408 Amherst Street • $79,000
Bring this beautiful turn-of-the-century building back to its former glory and become part of the Amherst Street renaissance. This is the perfect live/work opportunity for the creative entrepreneur while generating additional rental income, too.
Located next door to Delish! (see recent BRO post) and a block and a half from Black Rock Kitchen & Bar (post), across from Spar’s, and close to Gallery 464 and Artsphere Studio & Gallery, this is a great opportunity to create the next new business on Amherst Street.
Besides the long-established businesses on Amherst (Nick’s, Casey’s, Sportsmen’s Tavern, Spar’s, Graser’s Florist, Kolano Funeral Home) there are a number of relative newcomers: Artsphere, Gallery 464, Rohall’s Corner, Black Rock Kitchen & Bar and Delish!. The old CroZoo was recently sold and underwent some storefront renovation – rumor has it that a cafe may be going in. I also heard that the building on the corner of Amherst and Grant Street (former Experiencia Latina) was just purchased – perhaps another new restaurant is in store? There are several other storefronts on the street that are in the process of being renovated – I can’t wait to see what new businesses transpire!
I feel 408 Amherst would be perfect for someone who wants to live and work in one place and also receive additional rental income. While the structure is sound the building needs lots of cosmetic help. A buyer who could do some or all of the work would be in an ideal position for building up sweat equity. There seems to be a growing number of live/work entrepreneurs on Amherst: The people who bought the old firehouse near Grant plan to live upstairs, the owners of Kolano Funeral Home live in their building, as does architect Max Willig and barkeep Greg Rohall (Rohall’s Corner). This street is definitely trending to the old live/work model and that can only bode well for the future of this historic neighborhood.
The storefront would be perfect for an Internet cafe which I think Amherst sorely needs – think Caz Cafe in South Buffalo. I love that cafe and Buffalo needs more like The Caz – every neighborhood should have its own little local coffee shop. Amherst Street is so close to Buff State it needs businesses to pull the students in. 408 offers the opportunity for outdoor seating which would add some vibrancy to the street. The lower apartment could be converted so that the whole first floor would be commercial space with a kitchen and two bathrooms.
Other ideas: Gallery, retail boutique, wine bar, cheese shop, vintage/used/affordable clothing for the college kids. This block has a florist, sausage shop and a pastry shop. Amherst Street could be a great one-stop shopping spot, European style. When I lived in the Haight in San Francisco I could walk to Haight Street and buy fresh flowers (florist shop), wine (wine shop), fresh bread (Bakers of Paris), fresh pasta and sauce (Auntie Pasta), dessert (bakery)… it was like living in Europe and I loved being able to shop for dinner in individual shops rather than the large American supermarkets. This concept could work well on Amherst Street as there are already so many amenities!
The storefront was originally two retail spaces – a bakery on one side and a barbershop on the other. As the bakery became more successful the owners added the warehouse/garage spaces to the back of the building. Over the years it was converted to apartment space and needs to be restored to its original form. Currently the interior is stripped to the studs (with a very small amount of original tin ceiling left) and is basically a blank canvas for its new owners.
The exterior appears to have original clapboard siding underneath the aluminum siding. The mansard roof with center turret make for interesting lines on this building! There are wonderful views of Richardson Towers and Assumption RC Church from the third floor, which could be developed into an amazing loft apartment.
There are tons of possibilities for this unique property (which includes a large sunny back yard and off street parking) – someone with vision, creativity and some capital and/or sweat could turn this into a real gem and be an important piece of the puzzle in revitalizing Amherst Street.
• Storefront – 700 SQFT (approx) – perfect for retail or office
• 3 bedroom / 1 bath apartment (rented @ $600/mo including utilities) – first floor, behind storefront
• 4 bedroom / 1 bath apartment (rented @ $600/mo plus utilities) – second floor
• Full attic could be an amazing loft-style apartment or art studio/studios, or combine with upper apartment to make a grand two level townhome
• Garage/Warehouse – 3200 SQFT (approx) perfect for workshop/studio/warehouse – wine/beer making?
• Full basement with laundry hookups and tons of storage space – high ceilings
• Off street parking for up to 6 cars (or use garage for parking)
• Huge open/sunny yard behind garage perfect for urban gardening – create community gardens for neighbors or neighborhood restaurants
• 2291 SQFT (approx) residential living space, plus attic and basement
• 50 x 20
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• Taxes $1399 (approx)