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