On this first day of spring, the City of Buffalo and Ciminelli Real Estate have announced that Braymiller Market will be the anchor fresh food market for the $50 million 201 Ellicott project (corner of Ellicott and Clinton streets). A letter of intent has been signed with the Southtowns-based market purveyor.
The highly anticipated development in downtown Buffalo marks a new day for residents and visitors who will soon be able to source wholesome foods provided by an established and respected local operator. The 20,000-square-foot fresh food market component will anchor 201 Ellicott’s mixed-use and residential affordable housing project. Aptly, the project will ultimately feature 201 affordable apartments.
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. President and CEO Paul F. Ciminelli are preparing to join Stuart Green, Braymiller president, at a press conference at the downtown branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Library to make an official announcement.
Mayor Brown stated, “Today, we’re ready to welcome a wonderful fresh-food market with over 70 years of experience to downtown Buffalo, giving residents a new choice to buy quality food in an urban environment. Every community that is economically and financially sustainable has choices — choices in housing, choices in grocery stores, choices of good jobs. The addition of Braymiller Market, bringing fresh produce and specialty foods to our urban shoppers, is one more positive piece in our continued efforts to build an even more equitable, sustainable and financial platform for Buffalo.”
The retail portion of the new store will be 50 percent larger than the Hamburg store, and 1.5 stories tall.
“Our formula for success, our ‘secret sauce,’ is retail and wholesale offerings of the freshest foods,” said Green, 58. “We offer our customers core grocery items to accompany our vast variety of produce that we source seasonally from local farms. Some providers have been able to maintain local products even out of season, so we have them all year. In addition, we prepare our own soups, salads, meals and sandwiches here in our market with those perishable products.”
Green bought the Hamburg market in 2015 from the DeCarlo Family, which were owners and operators for 52 years, starting in 1963. Green says that he began considering the downtown location around a year ago.
“As downtown Buffalo grows and evolves, the Braymiller mix of wholesale and retail fits perfectly in this neighborhood,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. “The combination of a fresh-food market, easy access to transportation and affordable housing meets the needs of people who live, and will live, and work, in the area.”
Braymiller is seeking, through Ciminelli Real Estate, limited sales tax and building tax concessions.
The current Braymiller model includes selling seasonal local foods, groceries, a full deli, and fresh produce. What started off as “a simple farm stand” over 70 years ago, will now be the talk of town when it opens in Downtown Buffalo. The downtown location will be heavily driven by a wholesale component, which equates to 80 percent of the store’s revenue.
Located in the heart of the WNY farm country, Braymiller is known for selling seasonal farm-to-stand products such as peaches, corn, strawberries, corn, lettuce, garden supplies and plantings, and a nice assortment of prepared foods considered “deli favorites”.
“Braymiller has been a significant buyer of farm fresh produce from us for more than twenty years,” said Keith Baskerville, general manager of Eden Valley Growers. “As a matter of fact, they continue to increase their volume with us every year. We are proud to have such a reputable organization endorse the value we add to the local farming community and look forward to helping them extend their reach into the city.”
Green says that he will be dedicated to buying local, whether that’s from nearby farms, bakers at the Broadway Market, or products made at local restaurants.
“It’s not always about cost, it’s about supporting the people who support us,” he said. “We use the products we sell in our stores to make the salads and soups we sell in the deli. Nothing is mass produced. Quality comes first, and we’re ready to locate in an under-served neighborhood and bring with us the highest-quality food and service.
“Long term, we want this to be the place you take your kids for an ice cream cone and leave with homegrown plants and produce we purchased from local farms earlier in the day, along with a sandwich built with farm-fresh lettuce and tomatoes sliced just for your sandwich. While you’re at it, you could place your catering order for your upcoming business lunch meeting on your way out,” Green said.
201 Ellicott will be their second location, where Green anticipates on hiring a 65-member staff. He’s hoping that a number of those staff members take up residence in one of the affordable housing units, which would allow for a live-work environment concept. Green also believes in being ethically-minded, and is committed to being as sustainable and “green” as possible, via composting, and re-using and recycling, which will help both of his markets to get close to carbon neutral operations.
Back in October of 2018, it was announced that this project was back on track, after there was no news about the development for months. The original lofty plans for the project were announced in 2016. That initial version was anchored by a 12,000 to 15,000 Orchard Fresh grocery store concept by Tops Markets, along with approximately 44,000 sq.ft. of retail, with sidewalks and public spaces on both the ground and upper terrace level, and a three-story, 110,000 sq.ft., L-shaped, elevated office block. The four-story Ellicott Street block and the 12-story Clinton Street tower were to create approximately 200 apartment and condo units. Those aggressive plans were shelved, while the public wondered if the project would see the light of day in any capacity.
This new plan carries on with Mayor Brown’s goal of getting a food market in downtown Buffalo, as well as some strategic affordable housing. According to Ciminelli, there will be limited customer parking at the site, because he feels that Buffalonians are too dependent on their cars. He hopes to build a site that promotes walkability and urbanist features, such as bike friendly nodes (considered a Mobility Hub with the help of GObike Buffalo).
As for the building itself, Ciminelli is going for a “gritty retro market feel”, with wood accents, radiant floor heat (ideal for preservation of fresh produce), a mezzanine for dining, an ice cream shop and open bays to provide plants for every season.
Green will ultimately own the property his store is on, and the building.
“This is a much-anticipated addition to the downtown core, and an exciting one at that. Not only is Braymiller Market a solid, long-standing Western New York business, it also brings a relationship-centric philosophy that makes it a perfect fit for the City of Good Neighbors,” said Paul F. Ciminelli, president and CEO of Ciminelli Real Estate. “Stuart Green and his team are emphatic about understanding customers’ needs, to ensure that the market continually surpasses expectations through quality products and service. We feel very fortunate to have such a passionate, high-caliber local operator committed to bringing fresh food options to the city.”
Subject to Buffalo Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Common Council approval, and construction getting underway this year (including brownfield remediation), the project is anticipated to wrap up spring of 2021. A community meeting will be held on Thursday, March 21 (6 pm) at the Bank of America building (corner of Main and Huron streets).