Brett Ballachino & Joseph Kasko
(Buffalo, N.Y.) – Buffalo is currently in the middle of a revitalization that has drawn national attention with recent news coverage in the Washington Post and U.S. & World Report, which highlight the ongoing efforts to revive downtown and Canalside.
A number of businesses are slated to expand in Buffalo in the near future, with companies such as SolarCity and IBM have promising to bring new jobs in the Buffalo market.
For example, SolarCity, a solar panel factory coming to South Buffalo, estimates to bring 2,900 new jobs to the region.
Additionally, the Buffalo News reports there has been a recent wave of renters and tenants who have moved downtown into renovated buildings that were once rundown in search of urban living in the rejuvenated area.
“Primarily a lot that you’re seeing with the growth at Canalside has been a huge draw for downtown Buffalo,” said Brandye Merriweather, vice president of downtown development for the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation.
It wasn’t until recently that vehicles were allowed to drive on parts of Main Street in downtown, which previously had only be accessible by foot or train.
“Really what we’re seeing is with each block of Main Street that is opening, is added vibrancy and more people out on the street. You’re seeing new restaurants, new retailers, we’ve seen over 20 restaurants open in the last year and a half,” said Merriweather.
Tourism has also been on the rise in Buffalo and an increase in hotel development in the region. One factor in Buffalo’s hotel growth has been taking old vacant buildings and repurposing them into hotels.
“The hotel growth in downtown Buffalo, if you take a look at the commercial district as a whole, the vacancy rate is going down,” said Michael Schmand, the executive director of Buffalo Place, an organization that works to improve the economic health and quality of life in downtown.
“I think what you’re seeing is the private sector is following the public sector’s lead after they’ve invested in the infrastructure. I think it’s just a true private, public partnership that’s making Western New York and downtown Buffalo, the place to be and the place to invest,” said Schmand.
* Producers Maris Lambie and Kerriann Salmon contributed to this report.