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Reuse Plan for Gutman Building Firmed Up

Downtown developer J. Roger Trettel’s REVIVAL Development Co. is proposing a new project at the corner of Elm and South Division Street to be called the Buffalo Green Technology Center (BGTC). The $3.8 million project will turn the historic Gutman Building into a mixed-use office and commercial development oriented to creating business opportunities and careers in the environmental technology and green energy sectors.

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Gutman Building in 2012

BGTC will offer loft-like office, training, and lab space targeted towards promoting growth of small and woman/minority-owned business enterprises (W/MBE), and provide job opportunities in the rapidly growing green technology sector. The development is located directly adjacent to the Erie Community College (ECC) Downtown campus to potentially capitalize on collaborative opportunities and help participate in the resurgence of downtown Buffalo. Such opportunities could benefit ECC’s students and career-focused curriculum, and talks about partnership possibilities with the college and the building’s eventual tenants have been discussed.

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The concept fits with the City’s redevelopment strategy of promoting reuse of under-utilized buildings, and stimulating the growth of small businesses and associated technology-oriented jobs in downtown Buffalo. The location of the planned BGTC is near Buffalo’s downtown center, off the Elm Street exit of the I-190, and on the edge of ECC’s City Campus.

“This kind of private investment is welcome and thankfully becoming the norm in Western New York,” said ECC President Jack Quinn. “Prompted in part by Governor Cuomo’s START-UP NY program, various economic development incentives—and coupled with our excellent educational institutions—business leaders from around the country are taking note of the exciting opportunities in Erie County, especially in downtown Buffalo. ECC is poised both geographically and programmatically to play a major role in this development, and is uniquely positioned to ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to participate in the continued resurgence of the City of Buffalo.”

The goal of the BGTC will be to serve as an incubator for small start-up and W/MBE owned businesses, along with other firms involved with the environmental services, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sectors. The project will create a collaborative environment that will help grow high paying jobs in a growing economic sector, and will look to dovetail with opportunities arising from the recently announced Riverbend Technology Park. The Center will have shared reception and in-house administrative support, marketing, and IT services, along with a café and other employee amenities.

Trettel is in discussions with several prospective tenants who will occupy the Center, including ONYX Global Group, a W/MBE environmental and energy project management firm, and Buffalo New Energy, a solar and wind energy equipment supplier and installer. Talks with ECC officials about potential involvement with the project are also ongoing.

“In my position as VP and Operations Manager for a global environmental and engineering consulting firm, we are constantly challenged with identifying and contracting with qualified W/MBEs to provide services and meet contracting goals,” says Trettel. “There are tremendous employment opportunities right now in environment and energy, and there is a huge void in the marketplace that we hope to help fill with firms developing in the BGTC.”

The BGTC will be designed to be energy efficient and will maximize the use of green design technologies including high efficiency HVAC, lighting, and other features. The project will also make optimal use of existing architectural features and re-use of materials to maintain its historic character and minimize waste. During the project design phase, BGTC will study the use of a roof-top solar system to provide electricity for the facility.

The five-story, 22,000 sq.ft. Gutman Building was built in 1909 by Nathan Gutman and William Sperling for the manufacture of men’s and boy’s trousers. In 1910, Bates Jackson Printers and Engravers occupied a portion of the building. By 1919 Gutman and Sperling were out of business and primary businesses were Bates Jackson and, over time, an artisan jewelry collaborative. Gallagher elevator moved into the ground floor in the 1940s.

Trettel has been a pioneer in downtown Buffalo development with a strong track record with adaptive reuse of historic buildings and job-creating projects. He previously renovated the circa-1876 Buehl Block at the corner of Ellicott and Broadway with a mix of retail space and upscale lofts. He later renovated adjacent 285 Ellicott Street where global engineering firm Tetra Tech has its local offices. Next door at 301 Ellicott, the former Emulso Products building is being prepped for a mixed-use project.

Trettel also helped kick-off the recent development wave on Main Street’s 500 block. He was the first to undertake significant renovations there when 523 Main and 500 Washington were combined and renovated as Main-Washington Exchange, a retail and technology incubator. At 515 Main Street, Trettel bought and renovated a three-story building that is now anchored by Main Street Studios and Queen City Media. He is also a partner in Buffalo Iron Works at 49 Illinois Street and in plans to renovate 5-7 Genesee Street into a mixed use development.

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Preliminary work is underway.  Trettel removed the boards from the building’s windows earlier this year and in bottom photo, did test repairs on one set of windows keeping the original glass where possible.

Written by Buffalo Rising

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