On my way to attending a Make Music Day performance at the Central Library this past Friday, I decided to walk Main Street, starting at the Market Arcade. For the most part, the street looked great, and there were a lot of people milling about. I found myself particularly impressed with the patio action at Misuta Chow’s. The new addition is a breath of fresh air, for a street that could use a few more distinct patios. This is the type of scene that you come across in Toronto or NYC. So many times, restaurant owners don’t go the distance when it comes to patio installations – how many times have we seen a patio with white plastic chairs and a couple of planters? This new patio addition makes a big, brilliant splash on the street.
A few doors down, next to 515 Main Street, there is a huge missed opportunity. This is the location of a large vibrant circa 2012 mural titled Freestyle Faces of Main Street, which was created by Chuck Tingley, Matt “Ogre” Groat, and Max Collins. This parcel of land has been a controversial thorn in the side of Downtown Buffalo for years. It went from a pedestrian passthrough, to a gated albatross in no time. For a hot second, it looked like downtown was going to be landing a “people park” when the mural went up, but shortly afterwards the gates were added and the plot of land has now became a disconnected eyesore (despite the presence of the beautiful mural). If there was ever a case of “opportunity knocks”, this is it.
I understand that the property is owned by the investment group that owns the parking lot behind. I am told that this was the old entrance to the Century Theater which was torn down in the 80’s. Allpro manages the alley-lot and apparently won’t sell, but would consider leasing it. If the price is right, this could be an opportunity to create a pocket park orchestrated by Montante Group and Grassroots Gardens? Both of these entities are hot on the pocket park concept, and could team together to bring something super positive to this underutilized plot of land.
My final observation… I have mixed emotions about this one. One of my favorite downtown stores – Phenomenal Xpressions – is moving to 1493 Hertel. Store owner Nikita Williams, a graduate of the Queen City Pop Up Program, has made the decision to head north, to a part of the city that is experiencing a major growth surge. Hertel has become a real boon for retail and restaurants as of late, and more and more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon. This is a real bummer for downtown Buffalo, but hopefully this will be a big boost for Nikita and her impeccable fashion prowess.