It’s a big day for downtown Buffalo. After years of wondering what the future of Buffalo’s beloved hostel would behold, we have just learned that Hostel Buffalo-Niagara has been named designated developer of 667 Main Street/664 Washington Street by Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA).
Not only does this secure the destiny of the Hostel in Downtown Buffalo, it also spells out a significant (and very exciting) future for a building that has been in limbo purgatory. This latest news means that the rear of the building along Washington Street will finally be developed – to that end, Savarino Companies has been selected to provide owner’s representative services.
Ultimately, the Hostel will be able to expand upon its offerings, while also building out street-level commercial storefronts, and extended-stay private rooms with ensuite bathrooms and kitchenettes on the upper floors of the building.
The current economic impact of the Hostel is estimated to be between $1.5 to $2.3 million dollars a year.
It was back in 2017 when the City issued a request for proposals for the building – formerly Norban’s Department Store. That’s around the same time that the community came to the rescue, by fighting for the Hostel, which has now been around for 24 years.
“These new boutique suites will be ideal for families, groups and young professionals looking for more privacy while experiencing a curated, communal stay in Downtown Buffalo”, says Anthony Caferro, Board President for the nonprofit organization founded in 1988. “The concept bridges the gap between backpacker lodging and chic accommodations, representing a model being explored throughout the United States, but that does not yet exist in Western New York. We thank the City of Buffalo for granting us developer status and Buffalonians for supporting us over the years.”
What is most significant about the Hostel is that many of the 6,000 to 7,000 overnight guests per year that stop in, might otherwise pass Buffalo by. Hostels have become an important composition of just about any thriving city, as they are frequented by a wide variety of travelers, including students and foreigners that are accustomed to staying in these types of short-term, urban, communal, dwelling habitats.
Along with the Hostel’s unique accommodations that include communal kitchen, dining, and lounge spaces/amenities, the building is also home to BOX Gallery, and hosts over 70 artistic and cultural activities annually. That’s a big deal for any building in Downtown Buffalo – it would have been a shame to see this all go sideways. But it didn’t, thankfully. This all came together at a time during the pandemic when downtown Buffalo needed a shot in the arm more than ever.