Inside The Planing Mill & Big Ditch Brewing Co.

Buffalo, NY – Downtown Buffalo is seeing major changes from the cranes at Harborcenter to the medical corridor, but the resurgence of downtown would not be possible without the help of other developers.

The Planing Mill is a mixed-use project in the heart of downtown Buffalo at 141 Elm Street. It was originally home to the E.M. Hager & Sons Planing Mill in the late 19th century.

"This building that you're standing in produced almost all of the fine woodwork up and down Delaware Avenue," says Michael Licata with T.M. Montante Development.

But after many businesses coming and going, this building is going through another transformation like much of downtown. The mixed-use project will include 22 apartments with rents ranging from 900-dollars to just under two-thousand dollars.

"We have additional window space and more views. The high ceilings make this very appealing as well," says Licata.

Licata says there is now a huge demand for housing and "Class A" office space.

"People want to live close to where they work. Everything starts to stabilize and then additional services follow," he says.

Licata says you will soon start seeing supermarkets and drug stores popping up downtown.

"We also have small breweries that are coming in and want to also be pocket in-fill retail as well as office. That is extremely healthy for the economy to have a diverse economic fabric," says Licata.

One of those breweries is just a few blocks away at 55 East Huron. Big Ditch Brewing Company is set to open this summer.

"When it's done actually, it'll go to this tank where it's carbonated," says Matt Kahn as he shows off the space.

Kahn, along with his business partners Corey and Wes, considered other locations, but ended up in Buffalo.

"We had some different choices, but this is by far the best space for us, and we're really excited to be contributing to the revitalization of downtown Buffalo," says Kahn.

Their brewery is a labor of love. Two of the men have backgrounds in biotech, and they are very much interested in the science of beer.

"We can't wait. We've been dreaming about it for years and years. We're very close to brewing the first batches of beer on this system on the equipment," says Kahn.

They will even have a lab on-site.

"We'll be able to do growler fills which is like a little jug you can fill up and bring home. And over time, we'll actually have a tap room next fall where you can sit down have a pint, some great food," he says.

Big Ditch Brewing opens in August, but if you can't wait, they are going to test some batches at Brewfest later this month. The beer will be a collaboration with another local brewery.

A blog entry by the President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership titled "The power of incremental change" inspired this piece.

Blog: The power of incremental change


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