As Craig Spangler was submitting his post on expanding Buffalo’s successes outwards, into sleepy pocket of Buffalo, I was pondering the same thing. It just so happens that on that same day, my wife and I trekked over to Seneca Street to have lunch at The Blackthorn Restaurant and Pub. It had been a few years since I had paid a visit, which meant that it was due time to return.
As we drove down Seneca Street, I began to think about how close it was to the Old First Ward and The Valley. Here was a street that still had a lot of great architectural character (bones), a few good restaurants (including Francesca’s), some old banks and churches, and quaint shops. There are even nice lamp standards and bike lanes. Seneca Street is the visual definition of a mid-western town, along the lines of Grant Street and Amherst Street.
While there are a number of positive elements on Seneca Street, there are also a number of negatives. Along with some neat old buildings, there are plenty of gap teeth. There are also a number of set back buildings – Dollar Stores and drug stores – that deliver a bland everyday USA appearance. A number of the older buildings could use some refreshing as well. Get rid of the bubble awnings, plant trees and shrubs as buffers between the parking lots and the street, and land a developer to create some infill.
Yesterday I met up with a real estate guy from Toronto who expressed that he was having a hard time finding investment properties in Buffalo. I asked him where he was looking and he told me that he was scoping out all of the usual suspects. I then mentioned Seneca Street.
If a number of investors began to team up and expand their horizons, Buffalo would be much better off. Investors are getting priced out of areas like Elmwood and Hertel. But there are so many other places to check out. The only problem is that nobody wants to be the first one in. Sinatra is starting to move east. At this point, The Valley and Seneca Street are ripe for the picking, in my opinion. As the Old First Ward continues to flourish, and Canalside/Cobblestone District grow, streets like South Park and Seneca will be on the radar more and more.
It wouldn’t take much to get Seneca Street looking sharp. If done the right way, it could be one of the quaintest streets in all of Buffalo.
As an aside, we thought that it was quite interesting that the Salvation Army store had a Christmas display in the front window, and the hobby shop is called Section 8. These are a couple of elements of Seneca Street that are a little quirky, yet are reasons to love it even more.
Rehabbing a building like the one seen below would be a real game changer for the street.