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Renovations begin at Parkside Candy next week

Local leaders and neighborhood residents gathered at Parkside Candy on Thursday afternoon to celebrate a grant award that will kick off an historic restoration project at the iconic Main Street business.

The University District Community Development Association was awarded a $125,000 Better Buffalo Fund grant by Empire State Development and New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which will be used as matching funds to support a $230,000 renovation project at the building.

“This is an historic building – the charm and the detail of this space is truly remarkable and it needs an investment and some TLC,” said Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development. “With these resources, we’re going to be able to see that happen.”

The building was built in 1925 and Parkside Candy, originally owned by the Kaiser family, opened for business in 1927. The business was purchased by its current owner, Phillip Buffamonte, in 1981. It is one of the oldest continuously operating small businesses in University Heights.

Buffamonte plans to start work next week, beginning with the interior of the candy store. The black and white checkered flooring will be replaced, along with some plaster work, repairs and a new coat of paint for the store’s domed ceiling. Other upgrades include new seat cushions for the alcove booth and lighting fixtures for the candy cases.

Once the first floor interior is complete, work will continue on the second floor. “There’s two apartments and office space upstairs. They’ll be running new electrical service upstairs and working on new kitchens and bathrooms,” Buffamonte said. “That’ll take place in the remainder of the winter months.”

Come Springtime, the final phase of repairs will commence on the building’s exterior. The candy store’s masonry will be cleaned, repaired and repointed, new retractable awnings will be installed, and, most importantly, the business’ beloved neon sign will be restored to its former glowing glory. Buffamonte expects the restoration work to be fully complete by mid-spring.

“Our revitalized candy shop will emphasize the rich history that is Parkside Candy and allow for the community to enjoy our sweet treats and stick around in our parlor atmosphere for good conversation,” Buffamonte said.

Members of the community attended Thursday’s event to show their support and reminisce about the many memories that Parkside Candy holds for their families. “This was always our table,” one visitor said pointing to a table tucked into the back corner of the store. Another talked about bringing their children – now grown – in for ice cream and recalling their favorite flavors.

“It’s an iconic building in an iconic location,” said University District Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt. “I remember having an ice cream float right over here in this corner and it just brought back a lot of memories. It brings back nostalgia and to have it restored is going to be huge for our community. We need more places like Parkside Candy that take us back to a time when times were a little bit slower, but still filled with joy.”

Parkside Candy was able to secure the matching grant funds with the assistance of the University District Community Development Association, who sponsored their grant application. “It is so beloved in the community, and we’re just delighted that the government, through Empire State Development, recognized us,” said Roseann Scibilia, executive director of UDCDA.

“When you have folks like Roseann Scibilia and UDCDA – they are the beginning,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.  “You have to start somewhere. You have to start with the community who already knows the businesses, knows the neighbors, knows the block clubs. They bring the ideas and they’re the ones who make the decisions about where the investments should go, and that’s the way you grow communities from the bottom up.”

Photos Above: UDCDA; Below: Mike Puma

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo’s non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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  • Randy503

    I hope they don’t change a darn thing. I love that place. it’s like a time warp.

  • Michael DiPasquale

    Sweet news! I love that place, and have sat in the end booth with my kids a few times.

  • Bringing back Buffalo

    I can’t wait to see the neon sign lit up at night. Little things like this can make a huge difference in an area.

  • FreedomCM

    This will be a nice project.

    But I have to wonder about subsidizing a privately owned business. Is there some sort of recapture for the public funds if it is sold? Are they providing low income housing in those apartments above?

    I understand it more when it is a (private) business improvement district subsidizing a member to spruce up the district, but then it isn’t taxpayer money so directly.

  • 6pakjimmy

    Requirements for city of Buffalo and NYS grants to fix up neglected property:
    Be a negligent property owner while making a profit of your chocolate for 20 years or so..

    • Slu

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Also, if more people in the community bought things there on a regular basis rather than attending events, maybe the owner could have maintained the property before it got so bad to require all this work.

      • Randy503

        Every time I go there (and I love the place) I am startled by the fact that there are no customers. One would think that in addition to selling ice cream, they could also, just maybe, offer coffee and tea like every other place in town. They have great tables and chairs — why aren’t students sitting at them while having cuppa? Are the owners really so clueless that they have zero idea on how to actually run a business?
        I’ve always been worried that they will shut down for lack of business, like the other Main Street outlet.

        • BeatHarvard

          Do they seriously not serve coffee?

          • Josh Robinson

            They actually have a small selection of food now – sandwiches and things – I would think coffee would be included in that.

    • David

      One of the requirements should really be that you don’t have the means to do the work yourself! Here’s a guy with 5 stores, a wholesale business, a condo in Florida, a beach house and takes the summers off. And he needs taxpayer money to repair his neglected property he has owned since ’81? Sorry but it is just wrong. Give a no interest loan but not a grant. Where was the property inspector? This just stinks in so many ways.

    • Mr. B

      “Requirements for city of Buffalo and NYS grants to fix up neglected property:
      Be a negligent property owner while making a profit of your chocolate for 20 years or so..”

      BONUS: be a non-profit in a historic structure (like First Presbyterian Church)

      .

  • BeatHarvard

    Happy to see this as a Heights resident. This place has looked rundown forever, I actually can’t even remember a day when the neon sign was in working condition.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the neighborhood improving. Many positive announcements recently. Unfortunately it’s immediate proximity to the east side and the crime that accompanies it will always drag down property values. Hoping the neighborhood gentrifies a little bit, whether it be UB med students looking for proximity to the subway or families looking for an affordable option in the city.

    • Ian

      My parents lived in the University Heights neighborhood growing up and we all moved to Tonawanda when I was 5. I’m hopeful that this neighborhood improves as well!! I’d like to steer back to my roots, but the crime level is still high.

  • bburbs

    Is the building where the Granada Theater was still standing ? That was where I saw BEN HUR (with Charlton Heston) and MY FAIR LADY plus a couple cheesy movies in the ’70’s, including one about amoral Cheerleaders. Just wondering.

    • harlan

      Yes, still there and occupied

  • Buffalo Resurrection

    Curious: Will Flexlume be fabricating and installing the replacement sign?

  • paulb

    The bottom bar of the sign displays “Ice Cream” the “Candies” … and an apparent third item is blacked out. Anyone know what it was?