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The former Malamute tavern, in the heart of the up-and-coming entertainment district near the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, is available to be leased.

But the owner wants a more upscale establishment in the location to jibe with the rebirth of the Old First Ward.

“It’s one-third of an acre sitting in one of the hottest spots of the city,” said Chris Malachowski, an agent at Hunt Commercial Real Estate, who’s handling the leasing of the property. “We want someone who can come in and really modernize the building, turn it into a destination bar/restaurant, not just your typical restaurant that feeds off the hockey games. We don’t want someone to come in and open the doors just like it was.”

The Malamute, an iconic watering hole on the corner of South Park and Michigan avenues, was sold by longtime owner Richard Pyszczek last summer, along with an apartment building next door, to developer Roger Trettel.

The sale took place with the neighborhood on the cusp of an economic renaissance. The new $130 million Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is across the street, and nearby on Ohio Street, a $12.8 million renovation is planned for the road that is to connect travelers to the outer harbor. And along Ohio Street is River Fest Park, which opened in 2011, a $2 million boathouse planned for the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association, and 78 apartments proposed for the old Erie Freight House by Savarino Cos.

Interested developers will be vetted to ensure their business plans are adequate, and they are not someone looking to “just dust it off and open the doors,” Malachowski said.

“We may want to see something that goes up three or four stories,” he said. “We’ll need the help and knowledge of an investor well versed in the development arena.”

In addition to a bar and grill, a brewery and distillery, with the three-unit apartment building serving as the manufacturing site, could be a possibility, Malachowski said.

“We want to bring something exciting and interesting to that part of town,” he said.