The following is a guest blog post written by Craig Spangler
1916 Clinton Street
1916 Clinton Street used to be called Newman’s and actually closed a month after I moved to Kaisertown. I only stepped a foot inside one time to ask if they served food. They didn’t and without stopping for a drink, I headed to Molino’s for a sub. Looking back I wish I had stayed for a beer so that I could have enjoyed the establishment before its closing.
I walk by this building no less than 20 times a week. The owners decided the best course of action was to board it up, protecting their investment. I think it looks like an urban scene from an 80’s movie and may have contributed to the difficult time selling. The boards aside, one can tell by looking at it that this building had been well cared for and well maintained. The original sale price reflected the investment that had been made in the building. Right now the market for old school gin mills in Kaisertown has faltered and the pricing has reflected that with constant decreases.
Today the building is listed for $60,000 and it has compelled me to write this piece. It was originally listed in early 2015 for $100,000. The building is a steal at the reduced price considering its condition and the fact that it offers a bar with basement and side rooms and a 3 bedroom residential unit. This bar is perfect for a person with vision that wants to be part of a revival of a retail strip. It has much to offer for those looking to avoid the crowding of the well-known and already appreciated streets in other parts of the city.
I own properties in Buffalo and while searching for these, have participated in countless walk-throughs of residential and commercial buildings over the past 5 years. My girlfriend considered purchasing 1916 Clinton Street to use as an apartment rental and production/store front for her business, so I can vouch for its condition first hand. Typically I notice a multitude of issues during a walk-through, always paying close attention to things that would require immediate repair. In this case there was nothing. The utilities looked good, with separate central air for the house and the bar, both with newer roofs. There could be some aesthetic updates, to modernize the apartment and accommodate taste. Other than that, it is move-in ready for someone who wants to live next to their business, or to rent and pay their mortgage with the income.
I’m sure many have taken a look at this place and can list off a multitude of reasons why it won’t work for them. For every reason they give, I would have a reason why it’s an opportunity. Kaisertown is still a middle class neighborhood, with income levels in line with up and coming areas of Buffalo. While I love all the establishments we have in Kaisertown, there is a void of options. A place with a new vibe, a creative menu, and a great beer selection would be a draw for Kaisertown as well as Cheektowaga, West Seneca and South Buffalo. Some of the most unique restaurants in Western New York can also be considered off the beaten path- consider Curly’s, Mulberry’s, Winfield’s Pub, Sun, Pho 99, Brick Oven Bistro and Viking Lobster Company. These places prove that if you have great food, they will come! 1916 is also located across from unique and successful business in their own right- B West Studios (originally located on Elmwood) and Tattoo Don’s.
As a final note the Kaisertown Coalition plans to initiate a grant proposal as part of the Better Buffalo Main Streets Initiative in the coming year. This program is meant to help infuse investment in Buffalo retail strips. If awarded, improvements to this property would be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of $75,000. This funding can be used to paint, roof, install windows, siding, signage and a myriad of other improvements.
I believe that there is the perfect person to buy 1916 Clinton Street. Someone who is enthusiastic about contributing to a rebuilding neighborhood, someone who wants something different and to make a mark that leaves a true impact. The former CEO of Oracle has been quoted as saying “Value is found where no one else is looking”. The argument can be made that in this busy time of rebuilding in Buffalo that Kaisertown fits that description, and for the right person maybe even 1916 Clinton Street.