The soon-to-be-new owner of the Market Arcade complex in downtown Buffalo said he wants to keep all of the existing tenants and spend about $1 million to spruce up the interior of the building, while bringing in music and special events to draw more people inside the retail and arts mall.
Nick Sinatra, whose Sinatra & Company Realty will be moving its headquarters to the vacant third floor, said he plans “general renovations” throughout the building, “things that don’t have huge costs, but have a big impact on the space.”
That includes repainting, buffing floors, adding lighting, replacing some glass tile and carpet with hardwood floors, and bringing in new and “hip” furniture.
“It’s really in great shape,” he said. “The city did a nice job in keeping up the space. So some of the big-ticket items are well-maintained.”
He also plans to build out spaces for new tenants and “refresh” storefronts for some existing businesses, including new signs to “accentuate” tenants. And he will wire the building for WiFi Internet access and pipe in music to enhance the atmosphere inside.
Additionally, he said, he’s hoping to set up an outdoor patio on the lower roof, with access from the second floor.
“We’re going to take an already beautiful building, invest in it, freshen it up, bring it back to life and put our headquarters in it, which is a huge statement,” he said. “I think this building is one of the gems in the city of Buffalo.”
Sinatra said he has no plans to put in a separate bid for the adjacent city-owned Market Arcade Cinema building, for which officials are now seeking a buyer and operator. “It’s out of the realm of our capabilities,” he said. “It takes a special person to go in there and redevelop that space and operate it. It’s not our core business.”
But he anticipates that the sales of the two buildings, and the attention surrounding them, will likely benefit both.
“It’s symbiotic,” he said. “I really hope somebody renovates it and breathes new life into it and creates traffic through there. It would help the tenants here. We would frequent it. I would love to have a movie theater over there.”
Sinatra, whose development firm is now based in Kenmore, agreed last month to pay $1.4 million to buy the complex at 615-623 Main St. from the city’s Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. The purchase is subject to public comment and final city approval, but Sinatra expects it to close by May.
The firm, which employs 27 here and in California, will occupy 8,000 square feet of vacant space along the north wing of the third floor, while reserving another 2,000 square feet for future expansion. The space used to be held by Empire State College.
Sinatra said he expects to hire another person in the next couple of months and has committed to hiring at least five more in the next couple of years. “We’ve grown faster than even my ambitions have projected,” he said. “We need to have that space, because I could envision us having another 10 employees in a few years.”
But the firm’s move shouldn’t affect the other tenants, he said. He has already written letters to all of the tenants, asking them to stay and seeking to meet with them to discuss the developer’s plans for the complex.
More than a dozen organizations and businesses occupy space in the 58,000-square-foot building, including Visit Buffalo Niagara, which also operates a visitors’ center in the building; the CEPA and Queen City galleries; Preservation Buffalo Niagara; and Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Other tenants include Mazurek’s Bakery, Clinton Brown Architects, Mohamed’s School of Music, Perfetto’s Restaurant, Way Christian Community, a law firm and two clothing boutiques. Another 10,000 square feet on the second and third floors is still empty.
“I want them all to stay,” he said. “I like the artistic feel of the tenants that are here. We want to keep them here and build on it, and have that extra creative vibe to the building.”
He noted that the retail businesses have struggled because of the lack of foot traffic coming into the building, especially with the construction on Main Street, but once that ends, “you’ll have people walking up and down and also cars.” So he wants to “make it desirable for folks to come in,” by hosting monthly happy hours or other events, coupled with gallery exhibitions or music, to make it a draw.
“We want to build off that and make this a thoroughfare and really encourage people to come in,” he said. “A lot of people haven’t been in here in forever, so they have no idea.”
Perfetto’s is currently closed for renovations, and Sinatra acknowledged that the 8,000-square-foot restaurant has also struggled because of its size and impact of the construction work. He said he wants to still have a restaurant there, but doesn’t know if it’ll be Perfetto’s or another operator.
“If he ends up sticking with it, we’d love to have him there. We’ll support him, by physically eating there often,” said Sinatra, whose family has owned and operated a restaurant for decades. “But if it’s not him, than I’m sure we’ll make some presentations to some of the restaurant guys.”