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Downtown grain silo getting new life as commercial-residential development

Young + Wright Architectural

A symbol of Buffalo's industrial past will survive, as a one-time malting factory on Elk Street starts getting new uses as office and possibly residential and commercial space.

Few of the silos that were a symbol of that crossover between agriculture and industry have survived here, although some are still in use for grain or cement. The Seneca Nation demolished a grain silo complex when building the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.

Not far away, architects Young + Wright are keeping the silos in the property they are developing at 50 Elk. Co-owner Shawn Wright said the property meets the needs of his expanding firm.

"My partner and I started looking for new space for our business which has been growing and enjoy the area in Larkinville," Wright said. "I've driven by this site a number of times and always thought it would be a great space to do something. My partner went out and he found a way to purchase the property."

The one-time malting plant is being converted into offices for the firm, as it expands and moves out of nearby Larkinville. Wright said his firm will spend nearly $2 million for a rehab and conversion.

"Our plan is to renovate the existing structure, clean it up, put windows back where windows were," he said. "Actually, I think we added a couple of other windows for purposes of using the space and renovating about 20,000 square foot of space within the building, first floor, second floor and a portion of the third floor, which is referred to as the drying building."

Credit Young + Wright Architectural
Site plan for 50 Elk Street presented to the Buffalo Planning Board.

Wright said the firm is talking to tenants for some of the space and is considering a few apartments on the third floor.

"The plan is for Young + Wright Architectural to maintain the whole second floor. We're outgrown the space that we're in right now in the Larkinville district and kind of the initial reason for the growth of this," he said. "The first floor we're openly starting to talk to tenants, possible tenants, looking for different opportunities and things that might fit there in that neighborhood."

The outside of the silos will be painted to cover decades of graffiti. What will remain is the Buffalo Malting Corp. sign high up on the structure and long visible from the Niagara section of the New York State Thruway.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.