BUFFALO, NY – Every year, during the week before Easter, Buffalo’s landmark Broadway Market teems with customers.
But for decades the question has been how to keep the momentum going for the other 51 weeks of the year.
On February 21, the Buffalo Common Council approved the borrowing of roughly a half million dollars to further invest in the market, after a similar amount was bonded not long before.
The funds will be used for, among other things, establishing free wi-fi in the market, renovating and repairing its expansive cement floor, and establishing a Buffalo police substation on the market’s second floor.
In addition, market Manager Kathleen Peterson believes a plan to add a commercial kitchen, which is proposed to be used communally by tenants, will be key in attracting additional vendors and therefore customers.
“There are a lot of small businesses that would like to come in, but who need to make their products in a licensed kitchen or they can’t sell to the public. So they can lease the kitchen to make their product," Peterson told WGRZ-TV.
But the key to future success may not lie within the hallowed market walls, which haven't changed much and are not likely to.
The key instead, may be on the streets surrounding the market, where developers have begun purchasing and renovating long vacant and derelict buildings.
A community center, a distillery, and a coffee house are all in the works for buildings adjacent to the market.
“So you can see there are developers purchasing and showing interest in the neighborhood," said Peterson.
With the completion of each of those projects, Peterson believes a bit more foot traffic will come, in hopes of creating a critical mass, which the market would then be in the center of.
The market is owned by the city of Buffalo, and Peterson herself might be considered an investment by the city,
As a member of its economic development staff, she had been appointed to oversee the market, but only on a part time basis.
However, 8 months ago, the Brown Administration felt the position was critical enough to assign Peterson to the job on a full time basis.
“It allows me to spend all of my time here, and dedicate more time managing things on a daily basis, and to work closer with existing vendors and potentially new ones,” she said.