Yesterday, I got a chance to spend some time with developer Paul Ciminelli, who wanted to show me around the newly refurbished 50 Fountain Plaza (now home to CannonDesign and NextGen Fitness among other tenants). Aside from NextGen, there is also a small gym that is available for office workers within the building – it’s name is Forty/Fifty Club (membership only). The lobby of 50 Fountain Plaza is also home to one of the only operational “old school” shoe shine and repair services in downtown Buffalo, which is pretty cool. Five Star Bank rounds out the adjoined-lobby offerings that are already up and running.
As we walked and talked, Paul pointed out a number of the new lobby features that include a sharp wrap-around animated video feature (by Mr. Smith Agency). Directly underneath the wrap-around video screen was an empty commercial space that will soon be home to Buffalo’s second Serendipity Labs (co-working space).
Nextdoor to the (coming soon) Serendipity Labs was another vacant commercial space that is in the process of transitioning into 3Walls @ Fountain Plaza. I spoke to Mike Tunkey, principal and architect at CannonDesign, who told me what we could expect from the new gallery.
“When Cannon moved into the building, Paul wanted to know what we could do to successfully activate the lobby,” Mike told me. “We were already thinking about doing some sort of art project upstairs, similar to what we do at buildings around the country. So we began to look at the available space in the lobby and realized that it would make a nice gallery space. At first, we felt that there were three significant walls that would be ideal for art (hence the name), but now the concept has grown into three areas. We began to reach out to friends in the art community, who felt that this project would be a win-win for the building and the art community. This gallery will not simply be for displaying art – it’s going to be a little bit like a residency. We’re going to be paying the artists to loan us the pieces for half a year, with the goal that all of the works will be sold during that time. We believe that this will be an excellent way to get works of art in front of corporate clients, while bringing an additional culture asset to downtown Buffalo.”
Aside from the new gallery space, Mike and I discussed some of the realized and missed public and private art opportunities in Downtown Buffalo. He told me that he recently moved back to Buffalo, after spending 18 years in NYC, Boston, Beijing, and Shanghai. He was excited to help bring an art project of 3Walls @ Fountain Plaza magnitude to the downtown Main Street corridor. It might not be the biggest art gallery around, but it’s going to have a lot of heart. Hopefully it will open some more doors to additional art projects in that area – we’ve seen some awesome little galleries pop up along the 500 Block, but there’s not a lot going on at this stage in the game.
The initial three artists to show at 3Walls will be Shasti O’Leary Soudant, Rachel Shelton, and Pam Glick (the opening will be in July).
One of the last commercial spaces to be occupied is where Flint opened for a brief stint (Molly’s on Main before that, and Vito’s before that). Unfortunately Flint opened its doors just as the pandemic started to rage, which couldn’t have been a worse time for the restaurant industry as a whole. While Flint didn’t weather the storm due to not being able to gain a foothold before the world turned upside down, the space has been left “turnkey” for another operator to move right in (equipment and all). The restaurant/market space is an incredible opportunity for the right operator.
Currently, there are 2500 employees* in the building, and there is a huge patio right along the fountain and reflecting pool. It’s too bad that the timing of Flint didn’t work out… but opportunity is now knocking for anyone looking to take a swing at this place. Hopefully, whoever that might be, hits a home run, because this place deserves it.
Get connected with the turnkey restaurant space at 50 Fountain Plaza: Email Tim Malchow at email@example.com.
*Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. (purchased a majority stake in the building in 2018) – the company moved its headquarters from Amherst to Fountain Plaza. Other tenants in the building include Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, Nixon Peabody, and Sandhill Investment Management Firm.
Lead image: CannonDesign upstairs, Serendipity Labs (coming soon) downstairs, with a four wall wrap-around video screen as a joiner/divider