Buffalo is definitely seeing some new players in the development game, most notably Jeffrey and Leslie Wynn (Gold Wynn) – brothers from Toronto (Wynn Group). The last time that I caught up with the duo was after they had purchased 69 Delaware Avenue – originally the Buffalo Athletic Club (BAC). At the time, they were still getting their feet wet, but that’s no longer the case. Recently, during a phone call, Jeffrey Wynn said, “Every time I think that we’ve purchased our last Buffalo building, we come back and pick up another.”
The Wynns, who were originally heavily vested in Toronto, have moved on to other parts of the world, including Oklahoma, UK, Israel, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic… and Buffalo.
“We initially came to Buffalo from Toronto, due its familiarity, close proximity and potential investment, and were immediately impressed with beauty of the architecture, traditional neighbourhood fabric, and the incumbent historic and existing infrastructure (not found in so cities many these days). Our mandate has been to continue acquiring residential and commercial office properties solely in the city, invest and renovate them, and bring them back to their former glory. I am big fan of Art Deco which I intentionally source for Buffalo properties,” Jeffrey mentioned.
Now, Wynn Group has picked up yet another property, this time along Main Street, at 11 Summer Street for $1.3 million. Jeffrey stated that there are two potential plans for the corner – both of which they will market through their broker Greco Real Estate in the Buffalo market, Ontario, and downstate. The property sits across from the Summer-Best light rail station and is located in an area seeing a surge of development including The Grid residential development to the north and Ellicott Development’s existing and proposed projects surrounding the Our Lady of Lourdes church to the south.
According to Jeffrey, “The first plan is take the incumbent building and re-do the interior and the exterior with painting, ornamental and illumination lighting, paving and plantings for the parking, and soliciting a major coffee house, like a Starbucks, which will add immensely to the synergy and walkability of this burgeoning, very busy mid-city and Medical campus location. The proximity of the busy Main Street corridor, subway and deluge of residential and office going up in the area will be marketed as The New Mid City.”
As much as Option A sounds like a great boost to Main Street, Option B would be the one that would be the boldest venture. In this case, Wynn Group would build a glass office building (with possibly a residential component) that would be dedicated to office space unlike anything that Buffalo has seen to date. “I have engaged Lauer-Manguso Architects on this project,” Jeffrey said. “The plan entails a much larger and dense structure, which will complement this location in that it will utilize the full parcel and be flush to the sidewalk. Our early plan calls for indoor parking and office space and possibly residential each taking advantage of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The first floor would include a corner Starbucks-type of coffee shop and possibly other restaurant and retail tenants. This will surely add to the synergy and density of this burgeoning mid-city location.”
Now that Wynn Group has purchased the real estate, the next course of action is to find what best suits the corner. Of course that will depend on the level of interest the marketing effort garners. “I will market both of these plans,” Jeffrey said. “We will initially go with the original first concept… and plan and seek approvals for the larger building if I am able to obtain a tenant(s). I am optimistic for the second plan, as this building will be like no other in Buffalo – it would be floor-to-ceiling glass, bright and almost pillar-less on the inside and beautifully transparent on the outside, engaging with the street scene. This will truly be Class A office space, which is indicative of the Toronto/NYC and European design – the parking is hidden, density and bulk to the sidewalks, and it borrows from the Bahaus school with the curves and simplicity of sophistication. The building will be Class A, whereas current office new builds tend to leave something to be desired with their small windows and choice of gaudy colors and aluminum sidings – that just does not appeal to big city clients wanting to lease in this market. The same goes for the current rehabs that suffer the same, and the newer post 60’s buildings too are less congruent to new office floor plans that today’s companies are seeking.”
Speaking with Jeffrey, it’s easy to tell that he’s stoked to be part of the new surge of development in this city. His team has tested the waters, and they are warm. So now it looks as if it’s time to jump in.
“I see a Buffalo with a continuous upswing, as the the Golden Horseshoe of the GTA and New York City expand and become more costly companies are looking at nearby cities to expand to, usually at a cost-savings and less competition for employees,” Jeffrey extolled. “And that’s Buffalo, with the added benefit of a attractive, historical and culturally-real city benefits, location, and infrastructure. I suspect further investment will continue to follow. I suggest, when someone puts their toe into the condo market for mid and even high-rise, and they can make sense of the costs to build and costs to sell, which I believe is approaching, then you will get the infill the city deserves. I can only imagine the views with floor-to-ceiling glass condos looking at the lake, Niagara Falls, Buffalo’s City Hall, and other great architectural and public park treasures you have.”
I think at this point, Jeffrey can start referring to his group’s interest in Buffalo as “we”, because he’s certainly proving to be an invaluable Buffalonian. To date, some of the properties that they have added to their growing portfolio include 401 Delaware Avenue, 870 Lafayette Avenue, The Kissling Interest portfolio, 42 Delaware Avenue, and spin-off family venture Blue Dawn.