WUFO Radio owner Vision Multi Media Group has been selected as the anchor tenant for 509 Michigan Street, a City-owned site in the heart of Buffalo’s African American Heritage Corridor that will be redeveloped. A significant restoration and expansion project is planned for the property that is located next to the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church.
“We wanted a tenant that will honor the Corridor’s rich history, is aligned with the strategic plan for its bright future, benefit the community, and will complement the economic development taking place in the neighborhood. We found all that, and more, in Sheila Brown and her Vision Multi Media Group,” Mayor Brown said.
Vision Multi Media Group owner Sheila Brown bought WUFO in 2013. That purchase made Brown the first Black female owner of both an AM and FM radio station in New York. Vision is currently located at nearby 143 Broadway.
“I am deeply humbled and honored by the news of our selection. As many of you know, Vision Multi Media Group has worked 29 years to get to this moment. But we always knew it was going to happen. I’d like to thank God, my family, and the Mayor, and my partners in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission for making this dream a reality,” Ms. Brown said. “When asked what makes me successful, I say: dream write and pray. That’s all you have to do. I welcome this new partnership with the City and the Commission. We are on our way. I look forward to many great years of success ahead.”
The City put out a request for proposals on March 5 and received responses from Vision and the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission by the March 31 deadline.
Vision was selected based on its ability to accelerate the goals set forth by the Corridor’s management plan. Vision is currently the largest employer in the Corridor with 18 employees. The 24/7 radio operation is also Corridor’s most visited venue.
Buffalo Common Council approval is needed to finalize the lease deal.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes has been working for many years to jump-start the revitalization of the Corridor. In 2018, she secured $1 million in funds from the Dormitory Authority of New York State for redevelopment of 509 Michigan Street. Last July, Mayor Brown unveiled plans to restore and expand the vacant structure at 509 Michigan, which is located on a key site next door to the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, and in front of the Nash House.
The project will redevelop the Century-old existing 1,500 sq.ft. that has had numerous modifications over the years. An addition south of the building will be constructed, replicating the historic streetscape of this heritage block. Recreation of the storefronts will be based on photographic and other historic documentation. The two structures will be connected across the back creating the appearance of independent buildings from the street, with a single floor plate and common entry at the rear, with off-street parking.
Buffalo architect Steve Carmina and his staff at Carmina Wood Morris donated the plans for the stabilization and construction project. With a tenant selected, the project will now move into the construction phase. Work is expected to start in late summer, with completion next year.