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Black Rock of the Ages

Back in April, we featured a property located at 408 Amherst Street that we felt was a great opportunity for a buyer with good intentions. Since that time realtor Larry Bartolomei has sold the property and is convinced that the new owner will be a good fit for the street. When I last talked to Larry he wasn’t just thrilled with the news of the latest property sale, he was already talking about a number of other successes and potentials that Black Rock was seeing. Personally, I find myself on Amherst Street more often visiting places like Nick’s PlaceCasey’s Tavern and Rohall’s Corner. The diversity of Black Rock is one of the reasons that so many people are being drawn to it. No matter which way you look, in all directions, there are residential and commercial opportunities. If you think about it, it wasn’t that long ago when Black Rock was a super sleepy part of the city. All it took was a not so gentle nudge to get the rock rolling. 
From Larry Bartolomei:
408 Amherst Street, recently featured on Buffalo Rising, is about to have a new owner and a new life, adding to the revitalization of this ever-improving commercial strip in historic Black Rock. The article created a flurry in interest in this mixed use building and I had to lead several groups tours in order to accommodate everyone and minimize disruption to the current tenants. 
There is definitely a lot of interest, primarily by younger entrepreneurs, in living and working in the same place and being part of a neighborhood community. Ironically, the new owner-to-be did not see the article, but was aware of this building and called to see it amidst the ensuing buzz generated by BRO. Nick Bennett, a tattoo artist currently working on Niagara street, is very excited about moving his business to Amherst Street. He plans on restoring the boarded over storefront to retail space which will be a boon for the block and the street in general. Slowly but surely these shuttered storefronts are returning to their original purpose, enlivening this charming old-world strip with new energy. 
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Amherst Street has come a long way since I first represented Sue Cholewa (I call her the Mayor of Amherst Street) with the purchase of her first building in 2006 (464 Amherst, AKA the very successful Gallery 464). While most of the new growth, including Lucy Ethiopian (celebrating its grand opening this Thursday through Saturday), is happening between Grant and Elmwood, there is also opportunity to expand down towards Niagara Street. There are many mixed use buildings that could be brought back to life and add to the energy of Sportsmens Tavern, Barry’s (amazing fish fries) and Hilliker’s Pastime (giant shuffleboard table), etc.
The blocks of Niagara Street in Black Rock (between Amherst and Austin) have quite charming buildings, several of which are are nicely landscaped (see “Potential to Build Upon: Peter J. Smith & Co“). I’m always intrigued as I drive through these few blocks (among the nicest on Niagara Street, I think); I see potential for a vibrant community here – the tree-lined residential streets just east of Niagara Street are full of modest but wonderful old homes. With the history and charm of Black Rock, this could be a vibrant village full of longtime locals, immigrants and younger people laying down roots in a very affordable neighborhood anchored by Niagara Street and supplemented by Amherst Street.
Slide show by Steel – see accompanying article
There are currently several mixed use buildings for sale on this section of Niagara Street, one of which was a restaurant (recently remodeled and ready to go – it has two apartments above – see below left). The other was once a bar and has a parking lot with room for an outdoor patio (see below right). Gondola, makers of Italian macaroni products, and Sun Food Market and Restaurant (Burmese/Asian) are located at Niagara and Austin, and Viking Lobster Company (seafood restaurant) is just around the corner. With a few more restaurants,cafes and shops this could be a great little commercial stretch in Black Rock.
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Just up from Niagara, 52 Amherst Street is for sale (Karen L. Kirst, CCIM, Kirst Commercial Real Estate), and offers loads of potential for a live/work scenario. This is the brick building right next door to the beautiful old former fire house (now a private residence and once the home of American poet Robert Creeley). The ground floor would make a great wine bar – or gallery – and the two bedroom apartment upstairs has amazing views of the river, Canada, and downtown. There’s also a rooftop terrace that overlooks the fire house and the Religious Arts Center, a beautiful old church turned museum (well worth a visit, by the way). This abode could be a wonderful urban retreat with all the convenience of city living.
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Black Rock is an under-rated and misunderstood neighborhood with lots of potential to become a cool place to live. You’ve got the river, Squaw Island, bike trails along Scajaquada Creek, old world bakeries and markets, live music (expanded Sportsmens), art galleries, bars and restaurants all within walking distance. Housing prices are well under $100K and the people who live there have a strong sense of community, taking pride in the numerous historical homes and churches in their neighborhood. Now that BRKB, Delish! and Tempest Air have opened, and places like Artsphere, Wegman’s, Artisan Kitchens and Spar’s have long since settled in, this seems like the perfect area for artists and other creatives to establish themselves and build their businesses affordably while helping to elevate Black Rock to its deserved stature. With more creative-types living here, along with their entrepreneurial spirit, this place could most definitely “rock”.
Get connected – Larry Bartolomei | Nothnagle Realtors | 716.525.3141 | agenntlarryb@gmail.com

Written by queenseyes

queenseyes

Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

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