Over the weekend, I attended an unveiling of a new art studio at the Niagara Frontier Food Terminal (NFFT). Recently artists Christina Laing, Chuck Tingley, Rich Tomasello, Ashley Johnson, and Stephanie Dubin moved int0 a shared studio space – Exchange Studios – which is unlike anything else found around the city. And hopefully, this is the first of many artists and artists and artisans that will one day occupy the complex. Actually, unbeknown to me, another artisan outfit has already taken up residence at the NFFT, as we will see in another Buffalo Rising article later this week.
While I attended the Studio Opening, I ran into Matthew Wattles, the Director of Development for the NFFT. We discussed the future of the terminal as it relates to the creatives that he hopes will continue to fill up the space, which is not only inspirational but affordable.
“The Niagara Frontier Food Terminal is excited to have our friends from Exchange Studios bring their creative energy to our historic business park,” said Wattles. “We seek to support Buffalos cultural revitalization by offering affordable space to artists and creatives – along with startups and established businesses. Congratulations to our new tenants for hosting a great event! Our large daylight industrial buildings are perfect for art collectives like Exchange Studios. We are currently offering similar affordable space in our complex to ambitious artist groups. Small individual studios are also available. Get in touch through our website www.the-nfft.com.”
At this point, the Food Terminal leadership is doing a bang-up job of attracting these initial tenants to the space. And from the looks of it, these pioneers are happy as can be in their new industrial digs.
Aside from Wattles, I ran into another gentlemen who told me that he grew up a stone’s throw from the NFFT in Kaisertown. “But this isn’t Kaisertown,” he mentioned. “This is actually considered Ghost Town. Not many people are familiar with the term, but that’s where we are now.”
I asked him how the place came to be known as Ghost Town, and he wasn’t really sure. I’m not sure if the creatives at the NFFT are aware that this is the actual name of their district – heck, who wouldn’t want to live in a place called Ghost Town?
Looking around the grounds of the Terminal Complex before we left, it was fun to think of all of the possibilities that could happen at the site. Hopefully more and more creatives come together to reinvent the NFFT. I would imagine that this would be the perfect spot for a huge art/music festival. It could also be the spark to reignite the district, which already has some awesome assets, including an outdoor market across the street (flea and food), and a couple of great diners and shops. Back in 2015 we posted that Kaisertown was one of Buffalo’s Most Accessible Neighborhoods. Also, Beyond B West opened in 2018, the same year that artist Vinny Alejandro painted this mural. Then there’s the amazing Wiechec’s Lounge… and Christ and Naiderek and other great architectural treasures to be found (and claimed). In the end, it’s all about connecting these dots, to create another viable place where Buffalonians can live, work, and play. The NFFT project is a huge piece of that puzzle.