“Façade Work at 686 Main Street Proceeding”

Plans to renovate the last vacant building on the 600 block of Main Street are inching forward. John J. Barry Jr. purchased the three-story Beaux Arts style building at 686 Main Street in September 2005 for $150,000 and shortly after announced redevelopment plans involving residential and commercial space. The building fronts the light rail tunnel entrance ramp in the Theater District and features highly-detailed, white glazed terra cotta.

The stalled project got a boost last year when the project was awarded $45,000 in funding from the New York Main Street Revitalization grants program administered through Buffalo Place. Plans for first floor façade work will be reviewed by the Preservation Board on Thursday and the Planning Board on April 23.

Façade renovation plans prepared by Hamilton Houston Lownie call for replacing the existing storefront with a new bulkhead, display windows and metal storefront system. The decorative cement plaster over the display windows will be restored to original conditions including replacement of a missing plaster medallion. The new bulkhead will be faced with prefinished metal panels.

Long-term plans for the 30,000 sq.ft. building call for 6,500 sq.ft. of first floor office and retail space and 19 upper floor residential units. The one and two-bedroom apartments would contain 792 to 1,300 sq.ft. of living space, high-end finishes and 14′ to 16′ ceiling heights. Underground parking is planned.

686 Main Street was constructed in 1901 by George N. Pierce Company, a bicycle manufacturer that later sold automobiles. Mendleson Furniture occupied the building for forty years starting in 1930. Jeweler Sid Birzon, the building’s last occupant, moved to Niagara Falls Boulevard in 2004. The Birzon sign will be removed as part of the renovation work.

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