Urban renewal coming to Main Street's 500 block

November 22, 2013 Updated Nov 22, 2013 at 9:38 PM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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Urban renewal coming to Main Street's 500 block

November 22, 2013 Updated Nov 22, 2013 at 9:38 PM EDT

Downtown Buffalo's 500 block of Main Street and the nearby Genesee Street arm are about to welcome several new property owners and tenants.

Interest in that area, across the street from the Hyatt Hotel, has increased at the same time the city continues the "Cars Sharing Main Street" redevelopment along Main.

The prospective new tenants include a mix of retail and restaurants:

• VIP Tickets, which is planning to move its headquarters from Williamsville to a building at 505 Main St. that currently houses JP Fashions.

• A mini grocery store where a two-story former Burger King once operated at 495 Main St.

• Raclette's French-themed restaurant at 537 Main, scheduled to open next spring.

• A second Perks coffee house at 523 Main St. Another Perk's operates at the corner of Broadway and Ellicott Street.

• A development team, headed by architect Steve Carmina, buying the former Louie's Texas Red Hots at 5 to 7 Genesee St., with plans on renovating the upper floors into three apartments and bringing a restaurant to the 1,200-square-foot first floor. Carmina has additional property nearby for residential use and an architecture and engineering firm, Carmina Wood & Morris Architecture & Engineering P.C.

"It's been an amazing transformation," Carmina said. "What used to be the red-headed stepchild of downtown is turning into something special."

Other developments in the Main/Genesee corridor call for this winter's opening of Oshun seafood restaurant in the former Howard's Shoes storefront on Genesee Street and Paul Lamparelli and Kevin Helfer's transformation of the 527 Main St. building.

Key to all the developments is latest "Cars Sharing Main Street" phase, a $15 million effort, to bring vehicular traffic back from Chippewa Street to Mohawk Street. Thus far, $25 million has been invested on the project, which began four years ago at Tupper Street and began working its way south down Main Street. The project is entirely funded through public financing.

"We are seeing public sector dollars encouraging private sector investments," said Keith Belanger, Buffalo Place Inc. chairman and M&T Bank senior vice president.

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