I had the pleasure of walking through the three-story J.R. Barrington Building, formerly known as the Birzon Building at 686 Main Street this week. I have watched the progress of this building all summer long with anticipation and crazy curiosity and was glad to put on a hard hat to check it out.
There is quite a bit of history to this building built in 1901, with a unique characteristic of the structure dating back to the 1930’s when it was owned by the Mendelson Furniture Company. Mendelson built a two-story, brick and cedar-shingle house inside the building to showcase their wares. The State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) declared the house an historical landmark, and as such declared that it cannot be taken down. Consequently, the building has been developed and designed around the house, but more on that in a bit. The renovation of the 30,000 square foot building has resulted in a mixed-use facility with both commercial and residential spaces for lease.
The first floor has four commercial spaces. Two spots face main street and have large store-front windows. One already rented will be an 800 square foot photography studio and the other a yet to be leased 518 square foot space. The center of the building on the first floor will be home to dPost, a commercial production and post-production company who currently reside in the building next door at 678 Main Street where they will remain, but will have access to both buildings via a walkway between them. Beth Donovan, VP of Communications at dPost is excited for the expansion into 686 Main where a 2,000 square foot studio sound stage with infinity walls will take form, as well as office space. Their plan is to use the studio for their own purposes, but also to make it available for rental to local and out-of-town production companies and photographers.
The back commercial space has its own entrance from Pearl Street. This 2,225 square foot space is not yet leased and has 17-foot ceilings, floor to ceiling windows facing Pearl Street, a mezzanine with three small office areas which are part of the original house and two of the house’s original fireplaces. The front of this space is the front façade of the house which has been retro-fitted to accommodate public restrooms.
The Property Manager for Priam Property Management, one of the three partners in the building along with Avalon Development and John Barry, is Ian Brost. Brost states, “If you’re looking for a unique and creative commercial office space, you’re not going to find another place like this in the city. Nothing with a mezzanine, a house built inside a building and in the heart of the Theater District on Main Street.” Location is definitely a plus sitting on the subway line with a gated dedicated parking lot around the corner at Tupper and Pearl available.
The second floor will be fully occupied by PLS 3rd Learning, who also have offices next door at 678 Main Street. This floor has been fitted with several walkways linking the two buildings and is comprised of offices, a large conference room and a kitchen area. The entire floor has exposed duct work and original maple hard wood flooring.
The third floor is home to nine residential units ranging in square footage from 770 square feet for a one-bedroom apartment, to 1,463 square feet for a two-bedroom loft apartment. Each of the three loft apartments have large windows, a spiral staircase leading to the loft space and exposed steel beams. One loft apartment faces Main Street with two huge picture windows and a view of the Central Terminal. The other two lofts are located at the back of the building with large windows facing Pearl Street. All units have subway tiled kitchens with quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances, generously sized ceramic tiled bathrooms, large windows with great views to let in ample light, tall ceilings and restored maple hardwood flooring throughout, with some of the units having exposed brick walls. Three of the nine units have been rented and all three loft apartments are available at this point.
Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects is the architect of record for the project and lead designer of the JR Barrington Project @ 686 Main Street in Buffalo. Tom Zulawski of ZDesign worked on a portion of the project as interior designer for the 9 apartment units, with Colette Sendor billed as ZDesign’s appointed interior designer. Both Sendor and Brost agree that the target demographic for the resident spaces are young urban professionals and empty nesters who may want to downsize from their large family home. Brost sees the building’s proximity to the medical campus a draw for its employees with the convenience of the subway literally at one’s front door.
Rental prices for the third floor range from $1,040 per month for a one-bedroom to $2,050 per month for a two-bedroom loft. Rent includes high-speed internet service and cable. High efficiency heating and cooling systems as well as new electrical workings will translate to low utility bills. Gated parking will cost an additional $60 per month. There is ample storage in the basement and an elevator for all tenants will be installed shortly. A laundry room with a washer and dryer will be accessible to third floor occupants.
The project should be completed mid-January. If you are interested in either a commercial or residential space at the J.R. Barrington Building, contact Ian Brost at 716-580-3136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.