The Niagara Street portion of Black Rock is about to change, fairly drastically. A development team has purchased the site of the soon-to-be-former Gothic City Collector’s Cove, and is planning on converting the substantial property with multiple buildings into an arts and wellness campus.
I spoke to realtor Kevin Kirby (Avant Realty), who, along with Corey J. Hogan, Brian Kulpa, and James Minner, will be transforming the site – laden with potential – into a destination unlike anything else in the area.
To start, the group is taking the Masonic Lodge (lead image) and renovating it into a community hub for artists, from painters to sculptors to woodworkers. There’s plenty of room to get creative, whether it’s acting classes or film related projects. They intend to work with the community to identify an optimal cultural dynamic.
They will also be repurposing the historic Jubilee Library into a venue where artists can create, display their works, and sell their works. The loose plan is to have a café in the upper mezzanine, serving up smoothies, juices, etc.
Behind these buildings is the old Jubilee Gymnasium (not pictured), which will continue to serve in a fitness capacity. There is a mezzanine in the gym that holds about 150 people. Kevin told me that this is where his father would play basketball back in the day. It just so happens that Kevin grew up in “old town” Riverside, and currently resides on Vulcan Street.
“We all love this area,” said Kevin. “I’m friends with Charlie Leone, owner of Gothic City, and his son CJ. So instead of simply listing the property for them, I saw a vision for it. I pitched the idea to Corey Hogan, who liked it. It’s going to be his first commercial project. With Brian and James, we ended up purchasing the multi-building property as an investment group. We all have different skill sets. Our goal is to bring back the historic integrity of the buildings, and repurpose the property into an arts and wellness community. The group ended up purchasing all of the accumulated antiques and artifacts at Gothic City, in order to move the project along. Charlie, from Gothic City, will stick around for a while, as all of the inventory is sold.Then we’re going to begin the renovation process.”
In order to capitalize further on the property, the investors are planning on building an apartment building on the vacant lot – a roughly $10,000,000 project with between 12-24 apartments. Some of those apartments will be affordable housing, for the artists (for example). On top of that, they have purchased 1930 and 1968 Niagara Street, where they will be able to expand their vision, while giving them room to breathe.
Lastly, the group is purchasing the old Sully’s Tavern (2801 Niagara Street) at the corner of Vulcan and Niagara Street, which is pretty much a gut job. Kevin told me that there is potential for a restaurant with a rooftop view of the Niagara River, but they still haven’t gotten that far yet. But if there are any restaurateurs out there looking… they are happy to talk.
While this sounds like a lot to tackle, Kevin told me that the group is amped and motivated… and there are plenty of surprises to come.
As for Charlie, Kevin told me that he’s looking forward to retiring, so that he can settle down and grow tomato plants in the country.
While Charlie is busy growing tomato plants, Kevin and his team will be hard at work building out an artistic vision that revolves around health, happiness, and artistic enterprise.
“I feel extremely blessed,” Kevin told me. “To be able to put together this development, and be asked to be part of the team moving forward. It’s so nice to be able to work with this incredible group. There are great things to come. It’s an exciting time for this neighborhood… my neighborhood.”
Gothic City is currently open to the public every Saturday from 10am-5pm.
Gothic City | 1940 Niagara Street | Buffalo, NY 14207