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Opportunity Knocks @ Elmwood and West Utica

At some point in time, this single story bank building was constructed, replacing what was most likely a beautiful historically significant edifice. It didn’t just happen here, it happened at numerous addresses along Elmwood Avenue – think M&T building (near Breckenridge), Rite Aid (corner of Bryant), etc. I’ve seen photos of a few of the buildings that were demolished, to make way for these single-use, single story, bland structures, and let me tell you that it’s pretty depressing to think about the what ifs. What if we still had those historic gems? What would the street look like today? What if we could reverse these wrongs?

While it would be nearly impossible to recreate what was lost, we can do justice to these properties – especially the corner properties that have an even greater impact on the delicate urban fabric of the street.

Back in 2017, Rachacha came up with a solid proposal for how to rectify the Rite Aid blemish on Elmwood (see here). Will anything ever happen? Who knows, but it’s nice to think that someday we might see an opportunity to play ‘musical chairs’ with properties and buildings, in order to get a better development project on that corner.

And now, this former Key Bank location (lead image) is in limbo. With the bank gone, there’s a real opportunity to reinvent this corner. Even if it means teaming up with a partner… a local developer perhaps? This is a rare opportunity to make a resounding impact on the street, instead of simply monkeying around with an uninspiring structure that will continue to bring a minimal amount to the table in years to come.

This property is primed for something great. Look at what’s happening at Elmwood and Forest, Elmwood and Bidwell, Elmwood and Bryant, and with the Lofts @ 1020 and Musical Suites projects… things are finally looking up for this transitioning strip/village. The corner of Elmwood and West Utica could join those other significant mixed-use projects, to create a stronger, more vibrant commercial street, instead of being part of the humdrum status quo.

This post has prompted me to go to the Buffalo History Museum to dig up images of the buildings that once stood in these locations. I’m going to enlist the help of my father to help tell the story, as these were the buildings that he frequented during his youth. Stay tuned.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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