BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Seneca Street in South Buffalo is undergoing a transformation fueled in large part by the renovation of Shea's Seneca. 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik last visited in the middle of the renovation process about a year ago. Monday, she returned to meet some of the new business owners there and get a tour from the developer.
"It's been a long process. A labor of love," says developer Jake Schneider.
Just about 18 months after developer Schneider revealed plans to renovate Shea's Seneca, it's back open for business.
"An interesting thing we had to do was raise this floor level up because the original terrazzo floor rises from this threshold back up about 30 inches to the back threshold, so we had to get special permission from the National Park Service and the (New York) State Historic Preservation Office to build this new platform," says Schneider. "You would get your movie ticket, and a drink and popcorn or candy, and then you'd come in here, you'd redeem your ticket for your treats, and then you would go into this next lobby which was kind of the pre-lobby into the theater."
In addition to four banquet spaces on the first floor, there are 23 apartments. Most are upstairs where the Skyroom concert venue once was.
"These are very spacious. They come with a fireplace. Two bedrooms. Two bathrooms," said Schneider.
There are also several shops on the first floor. April Spencer owns April Spencer Floral Design. She lives in the neighborhood and was working out of her basement, but she was running out of space. Spencer says having a banquet facility in the building is ideal.
"I think all of us are really complimentary to each other, you know, it's just an added bonus that we're all together. It really is. It's wonderful. We're a little community," says Spencer.
Billy Lewis just opened Bottle Rocket Beer Reserve. It's both a bar and a craft beer store.
"My parents both grew up around here, and so did I, so it's kind of something that's it's good to see especially hearing all of the stories of what it used to be and seeing where it was, now seeing where it's returning to," said Lewis.
Up next, Schneider Development is looking for the right tenant to partner with for the historic Liberty Bank project down the street.
The new businesses plan on having a joint grand opening sometime early next year. Events in the banquet facility are already being booked well into 2020.