Main Place Mall to have $75M renovation

By James Fink
Buffalo Business First

Developers have big plans to revamp the struggling Main Place Mall in downtown Buffalo. (IMAGE: Courtesy of Violet Realty Inc.)

The owners of the Main Place Mall say they expect to invest $75 million converting the nearly empty downtown shopping center into an urban information and technology hub.

The project is the latest in a series of Buffalo projects involving the renovation of older buildings. The model follows what Washington developer Douglas Jemal plans with the $120 million transformation of the Seneca One Tower.

Violet Realty Inc. — owner of the mall and its two connected office buildings, the Liberty Building and Main Place Tower — said plans are preliminary and will be driven by tenants. Talks are underway with several prospective tenants.

Patrick Hotung, owner of the privately held commercial real estate firm, has undertaken similar projects in larger metropolitan areas.

“We’ve had success attracting new information and technology tenants to our other projects, specifically in San Francisco and Chicago,” Hotung said in a prepared statement. “We’re tapping into our expertise to take the Main Place Mall and Buffalo and put it on the national stage.”

Hotung called the plan “a complete repositioning of the mall,” which has 280,000-square-feet over three floors.

Tentative plans call for a renovation of the Main Street exterior including adding architectural ribbon to the Church Street border.

A large scale food hall and roof garden/outdoor lounge are also proposed.

The third floor space will include skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows.

“We know the community, elected officials and local businesses will have a lot of questions at this point,” Hotung said. “Although we don’t have all the answers, what we can say is that our team has invested time and energy into this project because we believe a development like this can happen in Buffalo.”

Brown said if Hotung completes the mall’s transformation, Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps will sell the developer the neighboring 1,210-space Fernbach Ramp on Franklin Street for a negotiated appraised value. The funds will help finance a Buffalo 21st century mobility development initiative.

This article originally appeared in Buffalo Business First.