Chris Jacobs is jump-starting a Theater District redevelopment project. Jacobs, Erie County Clerk and developer, is working with owner John Barry to convert the Birzon building at 686 Main Street into a mix of retail, office and apartments. The building will provide expansion space for 3rd Leaning Systems, one of the anchor tenants in Jacobs’ 678 Main Street that he redeveloped next door. Paul Kolkmeyer has also been brought in to assist with the $5 million Birzon project.
The Buffalo News has the details:
The 30,000-square-foot building, which extends from Main to Pearl Street, is owned by John Barry, who has been trying for some time to pull together a renovation project but lacked key tenants to fill the space.
Jacobs, who owns the building next door, has a fast-growing tenant on his second floor – educational technology company 3rd Learning Systems – that needs
5,000 10,000 square feet of additional space. “They’ve grown so significantly,” Jacobs said.
Plans call for the trio to “punch a hole” between the two buildings to link the second floors, giving 3rd Learning a seamless expansion and making it the anchor tenant in Barry’s building.
The goal is to put a retail store or restaurant on the first floor, while taking up the third floor with 12 loft-style apartments, mostly one-bedroom units with some two-bedroom units.
Barry purchased the vacant building in September 2005 for $150,000 but had not been able to carry out his plans create a mix of residential and commercial space. The building fronts the light rail tunnel entrance ramp in the Theater District and is adjacent to the building at 505 Pearl Street that Mark Croce is proposing to convert into commercial and upscale apartments.
The stalled project got a boost in 2012 when the project was awarded $45,000 in funding from the New York Main Street Revitalization grants program administered through Buffalo Place. Façade restoration plans were prepared by Hamilton Houston Lownie and while some initial work was completed, the project ground to a halt. The new development partnership hopes to finish façade work before losing the grant monies.
686 Main Street was constructed in 1901 by George N. Pierce Company, a bicycle manufacturer that later sold automobiles. Mendleson Furniture occupied the building for forty years starting in 1930. Jeweler Sid Birzon, the building’s last occupant, moved to Niagara Falls Boulevard in 2004.
Jacobs has undertaken a number of real estate projects including a string of properties at nearby Main and Tupper streets.
Jacobs’ 678 Main Street