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An Elmwood Analysis (from Lexington to Bryant)

Over the last couple of years, Hertel Avenue has experienced tremendous growth. Due to that growth, many people that vowed never to live anywhere other than the Elmwood Village are now contemplating otherwise. I’m not saying that people are “up and moving”, but I am saying that newbies to the city are now weighing the two districts against each other more than ever before.

Recently, there have been some great new developments on Elmwood, including the new build at the corner of Elmwood and Delavan (see here) and Thin Man. At the same time, there have been plenty of vacancies, which one Buffalo Rising reader attributes to greedy landlords , although that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“I drive up and down elmwood every day in the course of fixing now highly desirable houses in the Elmwood Village,” wrote the reader. “I have been  noticing an increasing number of vacant storefronts on Elmwood – I count four between Bryant and Utica alone, and another cluster of vacancies north of Lafayette. In talking with my favorite coffee shop owner and others, what seems to be happening is that with the success of the Elmwood Village “brand”, some of greedier landlords get new business owners to sign on for short term leases. At the end of that lease, and after the business has invested time and money to open, they get hit with a crippling rent increase/gouge (or hidden fees). The landlords are cashing in on the new appeal of the village formerly known as “The Strip”. It can be argued that no one is putting a gun to a new business owner’s head, however even in the climate of exalting the benefits of the free market, let’s keep it local – can you say rent control?”

Ok, after all of that, and thinking about Elmwood (between Lexington and Bryant) for years, this is my summation. It’s not all good or bad, it’s just a breakdown of the status of the street, as I see it:

Elmwood advocate Mike Attardo converted this storefront to an apartment after a hard time finding a commercial tenant looking for a walkup. Too bad, because it’s a great building. Signs of things to come?
Rumpelstiltskin’s children’s consignment shop vacated the block – the store moved to 818 Elmwood Avenue (a walk-up)
A couple of years ago I pitched an idea to the Elmwood Village Association that we ask Verizon if they would allow the association to build a small temporary park at this corner, with picnic tables and food trucks. Verizon shot down the idea, after getting decent traction. This corner could be an asset, instead it is a downer.
Thirsty Buffalo is a great establishment, but it’s not open for lunch M-F, which means that there’s little activity on this corner during the day. Jimmy Mac’s was once a hot lunch spot that drew lots of people around noon hour during the week.
Ujima Theater Co. vacated the TheaterLoft building due to a leaking roof. The company’s most recent show was held at Paul Robeson Theatre in the African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Avenue. Bummer.
Escape Rooms are a heck of a lot of fun, but they have super limited hours. I have yet to see any activity here. As for this entire set of storefronts, there is no congruity. This building desperately needs nice urban-looking awnings. I emailed the company about this years ago, and never got a response. Without awnings, this building sticks out like a sore thumb.
Casa-di-Pizza could someday become a Dash’s Market, depending on a lot of criteria, including news that another party is hoping to build a Tops Supermarket, possibly on Hodge. Until numerous issues are ironed out, this place will sit empty, most likely. | This was once a busy corner. Casa di Pizza was one of the few businesses that was against “street narrowing” back in the Mayor Masiello days. The inconstant width of the this section of street compared to other successful parts of Elmwood, is a real drag. The truncated bike lane doesn’t even help to ease the pain and suffering caused by the former “need for delivery drivers” to park on the street. The businesses that fought the street narrowing are all gone now. Lesson learned?
Ambrosia space still sits empty, although there is a rumbling that something is bubbling up at this corner, thankfully. This might not be happening today or tomorrow, but something is in the works.
Newbury Street closed… and then reopened at half of its original size. It was probably a smart idea considering that it’s mostly a take-out and delivery spot. Good to see it back in action!
Here’s the other half of Newbury Street. It’s ready for rent folks!
There’s nothing like a seasonal Liberty Tax business to put a damper on a street, not to mention the storefront next door that has been waiting for the arrival of another taco joint (not Lloyd) for years! Apparently the interior has been wrapped up and ready to go… although no one seems to know what the delay can possibly be. Ack!
Another empty storefront, but I hear that someone is taking a hard look at it. Crossing fingers. That was a while ago, so who knows at this point?
Let’s take a minute here to pause and thank The City for keeping these sidewalks so nice. I’m sure that this is a huge draw for someone to open a shop on this block. Hmmm… opportunity knocks to widen the sidewalks and narrow the street?
We can thank the guy who owns this building for screwing up the Lloyd taco deal. That would have been a game changer for the block (along with Thin man), but instead, we continue to see this place sit vacant… for years.
Nothing against Realty USA, but real estate offices on Elmwood is a waste of space. They do nothing for the walking traffic – others might disagree, but there are more Real Estate businesses taking up storefronts on Elmwood than nail salons.
Patios are great! But what’s a patio without patio seating and tables?
Epic. Another restaurant that is not open during the day. Not to say that every restaurant should be open during the day… but it certainly helps with walking traffic that neighboring businesses count on.
Rite Aid. What can I say. Actually, I can tell you that a Buffalo Rising writer (not me) has a great idea for this corner – article coming soon. Until that time, we can still call it “Blight Aid”.
Honorable mention goes to Froggy – a retro shop that started off as a lot of fun, but now it’s just a drag on Bryant, just off Elmwood.
Honorable mention: This was once the home of Ashland Gallery – RIP. Now someone is using it for some sort of golf business, yet no one is ever in there. It’s been sitting empty and lifeless for years. Shame.

There you have it. Actually, there’s more, but this is all that I have time for. Thanks for sending us the email this morning. I’ve been thinking about this one for a while.

I have an assignment for everyone, by the way. Count the number of people that you see in all of the photos above. Then add them up and what do you get? A dismal picture unfortunately. It’s a good thing that other sections of Elmwood are still looking bright, because this section needs some help. Let’s get it moving along!

Over the holidays, I spoke to the owner of Inspiration Point about conducting a saging (a spiritual cleansing) of the street. We’re going to wait for the new moon, or a full moon, to conduct the ceremony, which will be held on Elmwood Avenue.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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