BUFFALO, N.Y. -- This week in our City Shapers segment, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik takes us to a hub for business and innovation in Buffalo: the Tri-Main Center.
"It was completely wide-open floor plans. There weren't any corridors as you're looking down now. So, it was an abandoned warehouse," says Tri-Main Development President Matt Wolfe.
When Wolfe's father and his company bought this 650-thousand square foot space from Tri-Co 26 years ago, it wasn't always easy attracting tenants.
"A story that my father likes to tell when he was first here was that he was talking on the phone with a prospective tenant and the fellow said, 'wait a minute, what side of Main Street are you on,' and he said, 'we're on the east side.' And click. And hung up. At the time, nobody wanted to be on the east side of Main Street and now it's perfectly acceptable to be here," says Wolfe.
Today, Tri-Main Center is at 95-percent occupancy with around one-hundred tenants. BHNT Architects is one of the building's oldest. The company moved in in 1995 when it grew and took on two new partners.
"We liked the whole vibe of the building, the commercial kind of loft aspect. But we had been in a space that was kind of a house, kind of cut up, and we were on multiple floors, and to be all on one floor, just really appealed to us," says BHNT President William Hovey.
Since the move, Hovey and his team have completed several prominent projects including 716 Food and Sport and the Shops at Harborcenter.
In recent years, Tri-Main Center has also attracted several technology companies.
2 On Your Side visited Twisted Rope, a digital agency, where Greg Norton's staff is working on emerging technology including augmented reality where an app reveals 3D graphics and animations, while your camera still shows you what's there in real life.
Tri-Main was going to be a temporary space, but that was two years ago and now Twisted Rope is expanding into the space on the other side of the wall.
"Having grown up here and remembering the days when downtown was not some place you necessarily wanted to visit, and to go down there and see all that's going on, and to actually have people come here and see construction, new construction happening all the time, we don't have to have an explanation of oh we're just chicken wings, great pizza, etc., we are more than that. We are some place people want to be, and that's actually a very energizing feeling," says Norton.
Tri-Main Development is also expanding. Wolfe showed us his latest venture. He’s rehabbing an 80-thousand square foot mixed-use building next door that's being worked on by BHNT.
Wolfe says the first tenant is expected to move into Phase 2 of that project in July or August.
Kelly is looking for City Shapers to feature this summer. If you'd like to nominate someone, you can email her.