The new owners of the former Christian Science Reading Room building in downtown Buffalo have begun work to convert the historic three-story structure into a mixture of residential, office and retail space to add to the redevelopment of the 500 block of Main Street.

Peter and Rebecca McCauley will spend more than $600,000 on the renovation of 483 Main St., at Mohawk Street, after acquiring the 6,200-square-foot building – located near the new headquarters of the Martin Group advertising and marketing firm, and architectural firm Carmina Wood Morris – for $230,000.

Plans call for a luxury apartment on the third floor, with access to an outdoor living space on the building's flat roof. The second floor will be a combination of residential and office space, and the first floor will have a boutique retail shop. Workers from Lehigh Construction already began asbestos abatement and “deconstruction” on the interior, and the building should be ready for its first tenants by June 1, Rebecca McCauley said. The property, formerly called the Hudson Building after the original architects, Hudson & Hudson, is part of the 500 Block local historical preservation district, so the McCauleys have applied for state and national historic tax credits. This is the first such project for the couple, both Amherst natives who moved from the area when they married but later returned. Rebecca McCauley, 50, is an attorney and federal court clerk in Buffalo, while her 51-year-old husband is the president of Orchard Park-based manufacturer McGard LLC, started by his father nearly 50 years ago.

The couple live on a working farm in Orchard Park. “I've been anxious to get involved in the rebirth of the City of Buffalo for several years,” Rebecca MaCauley said. They bid unsuccessfully in 2005 on a building adjacent to the new Zeptometrix headquarters on Main Street.

“We stumbled upon this building early last spring and just were delighted that we could be a part of the rebirth of the city,” she said. “It's just such a wonderfully exciting time.”

She said they want to use the project to give work opportunities to “up-and-coming” young and “returning” professionals. For example, her marketing plan was developed by a woman who is trying to return to the marketing world after taking time off to raise a family – much like Rebecca McCauley returned to law school after raising her own family – while the build-out of the second and third floors is being created by a pair of young designers who are finishing up their master's degrees.