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Buffalo's African American Heritage Corridor is expanding

Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Buffalo's African American Heritage Corridor is expanding.

A  historic building in Buffalo’s African American Heritage Corridor,  is getting a new life.

The structure at 509 Michigan Ave., next to the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church,  will be renovated and then doubled to become the home of Vision Multi Media Group, owner of WUFO and Power 95,

"Even though it is in rough shape, it’s a period building during a period when perhaps even Harriet Tubman walked through this area with the Underground Railroad or maybe even W.E.B. DuBois was around when NAACP was founded, in this exact same area," said state Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. "And so the importance of keeping that building livable into the future, to me, is critical."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
This is how 509 Michigan Ave. (r) looks today, next to the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church. The historic building will be twinned by its new owners.

Heritage Corridor Executive Director Terry Alford said the building will also house a museum of Black radio history.

"One of our mantras is Preserve, Protect and Promote. And if you don’t know, one ofthe great features of the WUFO radio family is the Black Radio History Collective, which spans over at least six decades," Alford said. "I remember the year that WUFO was created because it was the same year that I was born, 1961."

Common Council President Darius Pridgen praised Vision owner Sheila Brown, comparing her to Harriet Tubman, who lived down the street.

Credit Carmina Woods Morris / City of Buffalo
City of Buffalo
This is a rendering of how the expansion will look once complete.

"A woman who was a trailblazer," Pridgen said, "and so in the African American Heritage Corridor, to have a woman who is of African descent, who is the sole owner of not only an AM station, but an FM station, and also a museum that is to come to this area, is a great day for the City of Buffalo."

Things have been good for the corridor after years when not much happened, although that included making sure no more historic buildings were knocked down. Now,this project and the multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation of the Colored Musicians Club across the street and the Nash Lofts housing just down the street are on the construction path.

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.
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