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Developer seeks to keep Broadway vibrant beyond Market's peak week

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

After the butter lambs are bought, the Easter dinner eaten and Dyngus Day beers consumed, Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood returns to a quiet, economically challenged neighborhood. But a local developer is trying to change that.

On Saturday, March 26, representatives of Cedarland Development Group will host a reception, from noon until 5 p.m., inside 950 Broadway. On that site is the former home of Eckhardt's Department Store, which is just one of several properties in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood now held by the development company, founded by surgeon-turned-developer Dr. Fadi Dagher.

On Friday morning, as thousands of Western New Yorkers were making their annual Easter shopping trip to the Broadway Market, a handful of personnel were inside 950 Broadway. The plan is to restore the corner property as a commercial property. 

"It's been vacant since 2004," said Maggie Hamilton, manager of real estate development for Cedarland. "We'd love to have community retail uses here on the first floor to really engage people, and various uses to attract people to this neighborhood, all year round."

Construction is expected to begin within the next few months, with the hope of welcoming new tenants next year. Currently on the ground floor there are various separations - perhaps former offices - but look further inside and one will begin to see some of the original architecture and design. The plan is to restore that older architecture, a lot of which is hiding.

"Presently there are drop ceilings above us, and we want to remove the drop ceilings and expose these wonderful columns with large shaped capitals with the modern style," said project architect Audrey Ross Sanders. "You can see that more clearly on the upper floors. The spaces are phenomenal."

Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO
Some of the original architecture is hiding behind more recent updates inside the building at 950 Broadway. Cedarland Development is looking to convert the building, located just two blocks from the Broadway Market, into a mixed commercial space.

Just a couple of blocks away, inside the Broadway Market, Buffalo Common Council Member David Franczyk was among the Good Friday shoppers. Franczyk, who lives in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, wants to see this part of the city become Buffalo's next hot neighborhood. He told WBFO many didn't believe Seneca Street could be redeveloped, and yet Larkinville has become one of the city's popular destinations.

He also recognizes that while Broadway-Fillmore prides itself in its Polish heritage, there is new blood arriving who can help bring the neighborhood back to life, such as Bangladeshi and Vietnamese immigrants. 

One point he made clear, though, is that the Broadway Market still belongs in this neighborhood.

"People say things like 'you should move the Broadway Market.' Where? In your neighborhood? Are you going to subsidize it, like the city has spent millions of dollars subsidizing this?" said Franczyk. "It belongs right here. This neighborhood should not be deprived of this institution."

In addition to 950 Broadway, Cedarland also holds the former Sattler's Department Store space and additional property directly across the street from the Broadway Market. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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