Earlier today, Ellicott Development gave initial media tours for its 500 Pearl/Aloft development, which is still underway. The completion date for the massive project is around May or June of 2019. Once open, this project will be a shining star in downtown Buffalo, for a number of reasons, but primarily due to the amount of amenities ranging from a boutique bowling alley to a public indoor/outdoor rooftop patio (operated by one of the restaurants).
Once open, the complex will be home to two restaurants, a 110-room Aloft hotel with individual patios and a lobby bar called W XYZ Bar & Lounge, ReCharge fitness center, ReFuel breakfast, Splash swimming pool and steam room (for hotel guests and possibly residents), eight event spaces and meeting rooms, an on-site parking ramp for 380 cars, Class A office space, a pool table room and lounge with intermittent live music, a fully-restored 850 person capacity historic Forbes Theater (they are looking for a concert promoter), an Aeries Grand Ballroom, bridal spaces, prep kitchens, 12 apartments (five are already pre-leased), and so much more.
It was actually mind boggling walking through all of the unique spaces, many of which are enormous, for hosting spectacular functions. Most of the larger spaces are located inside the historic section of the development – former home of the Christian Science Center, and home to The Fraternal Order of the Eagles before that. In that building, numerous artisans are hard at work restoring spaces that most Buffalonians never even knew existed (including myself). Each of the rooms has been named for historic purposes, including the Tactic Room, Eagles Alcove, Grand Aeries, The Fuhrmann Room, and Exchange.
Once all is said and done, the complex will be a destination event space, featuring just about every amenity under the sun. Whether it’s a visiting theater group, a concert, a wedding, corporate retreats, a weekend getaway, a dinner date, cocktailing with friends, or a bowling outing, the sky is literally the limit with this place. From modern hotel appeal and conveniences (with room service), and swanky residential features, to refurbished old world Buffalo features, there will be a seamless blend between eras, which will help to distinguish the complex as one of the more unique and upbeat multi-venue destinations in downtown Buffalo.
One of the best things about all of the meeting spaces, and wedding spaces, is that they can be manipulated, creating larger or smaller areas. Event the theater’s balcony area can become a social space. Or room dividers can provide more intimate settings in the larger event spaces. People will be able to dine and drink at a private rooftop dining room, or in the lobby lounge, or while bowling – for the most part it’s all intermixed and intermingled. Altogether there is a whopping 17000 square feet of event space. Even the theater has an outdoor deck, with VIP bottle service along the balconies (during events).
Ellicott Development has done an excellent job thinking all of this through, and when the complex opens, Buffalo will have yet another incredible beacon of light shining outwards for all to see. While the formations of the project are surrounded by preservation controversy, and the somewhat bland outward architectural aesthetics have given way to rumblings and grumblings, the interior developments are the real showstopper moments that will significantly add to the livelihood of downtown Buffalo.