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43 North Announces Finalists For Pitch Competition

We are just weeks away from Buffalo’s biggest night for startups- the 43North Finals. Since the competition’s origins in 2014, the goal has been to create jobs and opportunities right here in the Queen City, and what better and more creative way than a Shark Tank-esque pitch competition? Unique to its kind, 43North is an accelerator that hosts an annual startup competition, investing $5M per year to attract and retain start-up companies in Buffalo. Now in its seventh year, the competition offers one early-stage startup a chance to secure  $1 million in funding and seven runner-ups $500,000 in addition to: a spot in 43North’s incubator located within the Seneca One Tower, the pinnacle of Buffalo’s downtown landscape, mentorship and support from the 43North team, and the opportunity to operate tax-free as part of STARTUP-NY.

43North is more than just a genie in a bottle for dedicated entrepreneurs, they are also the ultimate tour guides and hosts to the finalists from around the globe, connecting them with mentors, other local businesses and even showing off interesting cultural places unique to our city. Maura Devlin, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Public Relations at 43North stated,

“That’s a big part of our programming, something that we refer to as ‘quality of life.’ A whole sphere dedicated to showing these founders, who are all mostly new to Buffalo, around our city. We get them out on the water on Lake Erie, we take them skiing so they can really see all the different things that Buffalo has to offer here.”

This competition offers more than funding to well deserving startups, it in turn contributes to Buffalo’s economic development start-up ecosystem and creates jobs locally. Upon securing a cut of the $5 million and agreeing to join 43 North’s cohort, companies  must agree to move half of their employees (including founders) to Buffalo and stay for one year with the ultimate goal of further scaling their business and choosing to stay.

“What we’re trying to do is help people understand the startup and tech space. So much of what we do at 43North is to try to educate people in this community who may be working professionals or young professionals and try to help them understand the opportunities that exist in the startup world. Yes, there are some risks associated because these companies are trying to build and scale really quickly. But at the end of the day, the rewards could be huge for your personal career.”

After multiple rounds of judging, the 43North team has narrowed down their search to 19 companies spanning an extensive set of industries, from clinical testing to fintech services, sustainable farming, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Join the 43N team on October 28th at Shea’s Theater for Finals and a night that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat with high-energy and the ultimate start-up showdown. The tickets are free and open to the public. Reserve your tickets available at Ticketmaster.

Meet the 2021 43North Finalists:

AKALA

This Software company based out of Beverly Hills, California led by founder Perry Kalmnus is seeking to change the directory of college prep in high school. 67% of high schools in America don’t have a dedicated college counselor. AKALA is a College Admissions Counseling platform that gives customized guidance to students as early as 8th grade and then guides their decision making all the way through high school preparing them to be the ideal college candidate. Visit the website for more information on services provided.

Flox-The Healthy Chicken Company

This software company from London, UK led by founder Imtiaz Shams is a revenue-generating venture using artificial intelligence and machine-vision to enable welfare-first farming, with initial applications in chicken farming. The goal is to improve chicken’s well-being by reducing inputs like soy or antibiotics so that farmers can perform more ethically and sustainably. Visit the website for more information on how the team at Flox is making this happen.

BetterMynd Inc.

This software company based right here in Buffalo led by founder Cody Semrau offers a way for college students to receive counseling online. In partnering directly with colleges, it gives their students access to a diverse network of licensed mental health counselors from the privacy and convenience of their laptops and mobile devices. Colleges such as: SUNY Oswego, Colgate University, Hamilton, SUNY Plattsburgh, Morgan Community College, and Bennington College have already implemented this into their schools. To learn more about services offered visit the website.

Cheelcare

This life sciences company based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, CA led by founder Dima Paltsev is changing the game of assistive mobility devices and accessories. Robotic wheelchairs provide functionality, efficiency, and benefits to users and caregivers. Power add-ons to manual wheelchairs increase users’ independence and comfort. Accessories help them to be connected and safe. To learn more or find a local vendor to make a purchase visit their website.

Laundirs

This software company from Manor, Texas led by founder Don Ward uses technology to optimize and streamline hoteliers top two expenses- labor and linens. This autonomous linen management software platform provides data in real-time and works to reduce expenses and operating costs by up to 40%. The world of hoteliers just got a whole lot easier. For more info or to schedule a service now visit their website.

BotFactory, INC

This manufacturing company from Long Island, New York led by founder JF Brandon combines a conductive ink printer, solder paste extruder, and pick-and-place machine into a single product that allows you to prototype PCBs in minutes reducing lead time from weeks to hours. Once a design is uploaded, their software works by guiding a user through the printing process to create a fully functional 3D printed circuit board in just minutes! To learn more or schedule a consultation visit their website.

Kilter

This software company from Madison, Wisconsin led by founder Seth Braddock makes an inclusive mobile platform that turns everyday health and wellness activities into opportunities for activity based fundraising in order to drive charitable dollars to their favorite causes. Visit the website to learn more.

Tequity

This software company from Kalamazoo, Michigan led by founder Sydney Davis is altering the game for app designers. What WordPress does for websites, this company does for mobile apps. We remove the exorbitant cost & complexity of mobile app development for non-technical innovators. No code solutions such as Tequity, enables startups and large organizations to build, test, and iterate on their mobile applications quicker and easier. Visit the website to find out more.

Ognomy

Trouble sleeping? You could have sleep apnea! This software company from Williamsville, New York led by founder Dan Rifkin is making a massive public health impact by making it easier for more people to get tested, diagnosed, and treated for sleep apnea from the comfort of home. They have built their very own HIPAA compliant software, including an EMR, telemedicine platform, physician network, and logistics capabilities. Visit their website to learn more.

Big Wheelbarrow, Inc

This software company from Austin, Texas led by founder Sam Eder enables food distributors and grocery chains to create and maintain decentralized supply chains in order to meet consumer demand for local food profitably, efficiently, and safely. Learn more at their website.

Infiuss Health

This Life Sciences company based out of San Jose, California led by founder Melissa Bime is a SAAS platform powering remote research/clinical trials in Africa, by connecting researchers (in industry and academia) to patients, participants in Africa to US and EU based pharmaceutical and life science companies for clinical research and clinical trial studies. Visit the website to learn.

Metabob, Inc

This software company based out of Mountain View, California led by founder Massimiliano Genta works by using an AI tool that cuts debugging for engineers in half. Using Python code, Metabob solves one of the most complex situations developers across the globe face on a daily basis. Check out their website for more info.

Kapitalwise Inc.

This software company based out of New York City led by founder Sajil Koroth helps financial institutions to create complex customer engagement workflows without writing a piece of code. With Kapitalwise, financial institutions can pilot and deploy financial wellness tools for precise client interactions in minutes, build life events and financial event-based marketing workflows combining calculators, content, and templates. To learn more visit their website.

VeriTX Corp

This manufacturing company based out of East Aurora, New York led by founder James Regenor unlocks a $140bn digital supply chain market which will feed the increasingly omnipresent decentralized 3D manufacturing capital base for aerospace & defense, medical & industrial applications. Visit the website to learn more.

Top Seedz

This consumer product company based right here in Buffalo led by founder Rebecca Brady makes artisan crackers and roasted seeds packed with nutrition and flavor using the simplest ingredients that nature provides. To learn more or where to buy visit their website.

Ontopical Inc.

This software company from Calgary, Alberta, Canada led by founder Derrick Koenig
uses machine learning and natural language processing to monitor local governments in order to help our customers gain extremely valuable early signals of upcoming contract opportunities and business risks related to policy. To learn more visit their website.

ShearShare, Inc.

This software company from McKinney, Texas led by founder Courtney Caldwell is the first B2B mobile marketplace to monetize underutilized assets in the beauty and barbering industry, starting with space to work. To utilize this service or learn more visit their website.

Zealot Interactive

This software company from Arlington, Virginia led by founder Shaun Masavage makes learning an instrument that much easier with Augmented streaming video lessons for musical instruments paired with state-of-the-art optional hardware. We are a “Peloton for music”. Visit their website to learn more and maybe even learn to play a new song.

Verivend

This software company from Buffalo led by founder Aaron Santarosa offers the quickest way available to pay and get paid, zero barrier to entry allowing businesses to transact with all customers and vendors, unbiased reputation transparency, and a digital wallet powering instant B2B and B2C payments. Visit their website for all the details.

This is a night you won’t want to miss, Buffalo!

October 28, 2021 at Shea’s Performing Arts Center (650 Main St, Buffalo, NY)

Back and better than ever! 43North Finals returns as startups from around the world come together to battle live on stage for a cut of $5 million! Don’t miss your chance to see who takes it all!

The event is FREE and open to EVERYONE! Whether you’re a passionate Buffalonian, a job seeker, a student, an entrepreneur, or just someone who loves a good high-stakes competition, this show is for YOU!

Seating is limited, so get your tickets now and we’ll see you on October 28th at Shea’s!

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Rocco Termini Weighs In: Adding up the costs of Bills stadium options

Author: Rocco Termini

This article is not to suggest where the new Buffalo Bills stadium should go, but rather give facts that I think may have been overlooked and should be considered before a decision is made.

First, remodeling the existing stadium has been taken off the table. Some of the reasons are the expense and logistics of a remodeled stadium. But a remodeled stadium may be the least expensive in actual dollars.

I am assuming that the existing stadium would qualify to be on the National Register of Historic Places. The stadium was determined in 2017 to be ineligible, but with community support, I think the state historic preservation office can be convinced the building is eligible.

The Caesars Superdome in New Orleans and the Houston Astrodome were recently put on the National Historic Register. Let’s assume we can get the state to waive the tax credit cap.

Of the $1 billion cost to remodel the stadium in Orchard Park, I estimate that $800 million would be spent within the historic structure.

The federal credit is 20% of qualified expenses ($160 million), which can be sold to a corporation for 90 cents on the dollar or $144 million.

The state has a cap of $5 million on its credit. We would ask the state to waive the cap so we can get $160 million in qualified basis for the state credit.

The state credits have a value of 70 cents on the dollar or $120 million, so combined it would raise $256 million in cash. If the state doesn’t waive the cap you would only raise $3.5 million from the state credits.

Let’s assume the parking lot that has had cars leaking oil on it for 50 years would qualify for Brownfield tax credits, which could raise another $50 million in cash. Assuming it cost $800 million to renovate and the Pegulas contribute $40 million, the subsidy would be about $454 million.

Downtown: A downtown stadium at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority site and surrounding area would reportedly cost about $2 billion. One of the reasons for the extra expense for this site is the NFL’s new security buffer requirement around the stadium. Is this necessary, or can we ask for a waiver? Can our elevated highway act as a buffer? Why does it have to be vacant land?

Let’s assume we add a convention center to the site, which adds another $500 million. We now have a cost of $2.5 billion. A convention center on this site would make better use of the parking garages that would have to be built. If the project was leased to a for-profit limited liability corporation, the accelerated depreciation that the county can’t take could be monetized.

Given a 21% tax rate and $1.3 billion in qualified basis, this would create $400 million in project equity.

Given a 21% tax rate and $1.3 billion in qualified basis, this would create $400 million in project equity. The lease would have to be for 40 years and could have a put (HAVE A “PUT”??) after 10 years for a nominal fee. The ownership would revert to the county.

The site would qualify for Brownfield tax credits and if the state lifted the cap, would produce about $500 million in equity. This site also would have the potential to spur additional future development in the area such as hotels, casinos and restaurants, as a few examples.

If the Pegulas invested $70 million in this project, the total cost of the subsidy would be $1.53 billion. Don’t forget, this includes a convention center and a facility that could produce revenue for more than eight days out of the year.

A new stadium built in Orchard Park is projected to cost $1.5 billion. This would not be eligible for Brownfield credits or historic register credits but would be able to monetize the accelerated depreciation which could raise about $160 million. If the Pegulas invested $60 million, that would leave a subsidy of about $1.28 billion.

If you look at all the scenarios, the most expensive project is a new Orchard Park stadium. You decide what we should do.

www.change.org/BringTheBillsBackToTheCity 

Rocco Termini is a Buffalo real estate developer.

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CTBK’s Outsourced Solutions Provides Cost Effective Accounting Services for Local Businesses

For some local businesses, getting the accounting support they need in a cost effective manner can be challenging, particularly if they are not in a financial position to hire a full time CFO or accounting staff. Chiampou Travis Besaw & Kershner LLP (CTBK) has a large menu of contract services that can help those businesses achieve stability and growth.

CTBK is a local accounting firm that has been in business for over 27 years, with a reputation for its diverse knowledge and expertise in professional CPA, accounting and consulting services. CTBK prides itself on its “one team approach” in serving its clients, by providing them with a variety of services to meet their needs.

“We have that human connection, we’re very outgoing,” said Kaitlyn Affuso, Marketing Manager. “We try to strive to go past technology and provide innovative solutions and convenience. We want to stay with that small town Buffalo feel in the way we provide a personal service.”

Many local businesses, from start-ups to established organizations, work with CTBK’s Outsourced Solutions team to handle their accounting and finance functions so that the owners focus on the day-to-day operations. CTBK’s team of contractors can provide support on a continuous or as-needed basis to meet a business’ unique needs.

The Outsourced Solutions team can provide services including bookkeeping, general ledger maintenance, monthly account reconciliation, cash flow analysis, financial statements, sales tax processing, audit preparation, and other services. CTBK can also assist with QuickBooks conversion, as well as staff training and support.

Karen Penfold, CPA, Senior Manager of Outsourced Solutions

“We have the expertise and robust resources,” said Karen Penfold, CPA, Senior Manager of Outsourced Solutions. “We’re highly qualified and experienced, versus someone hiring an employee not knowing what they bring to the table. We take the risk out of vacancies. We have continuity because our team is cross trained, so we can always supply someone. All of CTBK is available for referral, so it’s a complete fulfillment of needs.”

The Outsourced Solutions team recently worked with a retail food product supplier that was using archaic accounting software that was no longer being supported, so they helped them migrate to QuickBooks.

“When we went into the office there was paperwork everywhere,” Penfold said. “They didn’t do any kind of scanning so they weren’t using any kind of PDFs. It took a good six to eight months of working with them and getting everything rolled into the QuickBooks software, but now they’re happy, they were successful in training, and we’re thrilled because we can get what we need.”

The Outsourced Solutions team is very hands-on in their approach, and they continue working with their clients on a maintenance or as-needed basis to ensure long term success.

“No one really likes change, and there’s the fear that a new system won’t work the same as what they’ve had,” Penfold continued. “So they were very nervous and it seemed like an insurmountable task to learn the new software. They kept saying, ‘You’re going to be here for us, right?’ And now we’re still working with them on a maintenance basis, so we can answer questions if they need anything and we’re able to solve those problems.”

For some growing businesses, their accounting needs may be extensive enough to warrant hiring a CFO, but their budget can’t accommodate a full-time position. Here, CTBK can offer the services of its affiliate, cfoSOLUTIONSPlus, which maintains a team of professional CFOs who can provide hourly support on a consistent, temporary, or project-based basis. Companies can receive the financial guidance they need, in a cost effective manner.

“cfoSOLUTIONSPlus was organized in 2003 by a couple of highly experienced financial professionals who saw a need in the area for companies that had the financial needs to have a full time CFO, but couldn’t afford one,” said Tom Huebsch, Director of Outsourced Solutions. “cfoSOLUTIONSPlus was started to provide that level of services on an hourly basis. We started out as an office of two CFOs, then grew to seven. In January 2020 we joined CTBK and we now have 10 CFOs.”

Services provided by cfoSOLUTIONSPlus include finance department management and mentoring, preparation of monthly, quarterly or annual reporting, budgeting, cash flow analysis and forecasting, lender and investor relations, ERP selection and implementation, crisis management services, strategic financial planning, internal control and process improvement, and assessment.

If it’s a start-up, they can help with getting an organization set up and understanding how to create budgets. With larger companies, the CFO may be buried in the day-to-day work and need temporary support from cfoSOLUTIONSPlus for a special project.

The cfoSOLUTIONSPlus team can provide services on a fractional or interim basis. In an interim situation, a business may have a CFO who has to be out for a period of time, and the team can come in to fill their shoes temporarily. “We have the experience and the knowledge with computer systems and finance, so we can understand what the company is doing and provide that gap coverage,” Huebsch said.

For organizations that have the need for a higher level of financial guidance, but can’t afford a full-time CFO, the cfoSOLUTIONSPlus team can fulfill the role of the CFO by providing services on a fractional basis.

“We can help companies reduce their risk,” Huebsch said. “If they don’t have good internal controls and only one or two people doing the books, opening checks, etc. we take the risk out of that situation. We’re cost effective, because they don’t have to provide us with pension, health insurance, vacation benefits, and they’re saving on payroll tax liabilities, workers comp, etc. They don’t have to bother with training, they don’t have to worry about HR or equipment.”

For businesses, the advantage of working with cfoSOLUTIONSPlus is that they get access to a team of CFOs with experience ranging from 10 to 40 years in a variety of industries, as well as access to the entire menu of services and staff at CTBK, meaning they get the wraparound support with bookkeeping, tax preparation, consulting and business development.

“In the past we would just go in and provide those CFO level services, but there were times when a client needed additional services that we could provide, but it would be costly,” said Huebsch. “One of the biggest benefits of teaming up with CTBK is that now we can provide it in a more cost effective manner. We’re always looking for ways to make it cost effective for the organization we’re working with.”

cfoSOLUTIONSPlus worked with a privately owned company whose owner was having trouble getting accurate financial reports on a consistent basis, and then their CFO left. CTBK’s team was able to stabilize the situation and provide the company’s leadership with timely, accurate financials, and continues to assist them on a monthly basis.

“Success isn’t necessarily measured in dollars and cents,” Huebsch said. “Sometimes it’s the critical information they’re getting, and the timeliness of that information.”

CTBK’s Outsourced Solutions team works with companies of all sizes in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, construction, not-for-profit, healthcare, retail, real estate, investment partnerships, and start-ups. They are able to work remotely or on-site with clients, providing training and 24/7 access for assistance.

Team Photo, 2019

“It’s all about relationships,” Huebsch said. “We’re there for them and we’re there for their success. We’re very invested in our clients, even though we’re not employees, we become part of that organization and their team.”

Businesses interested in seeking out support from CTBK’s Outsourced Solutions can submit an RFP for services through their website.

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Building Blocks: Northland Beltline

Idea Box

The placemaking initiatives at the Northland Corridor site are starting to pay off. I did a little exploring in that neck of the woods this past Saturday, and was very surprised at what I found. Aside from coming across an Idea Box at the corner of E. Delavan and Manchester Avenue, I also noticed a few interesting public works of art.

One of those works – by Team Razor Wire (TRW)  in 2017 – was painted on a building at the corner of East Delavan and Longview Avenue. I observed the work as I was standing at the Northland site, viewing the Hervé Tullet: Shape and Color Resident Artist Murals. So I wandered around the block and discovered that the colorful paint job was adhered to at least three sides of the building, which made it visible from numerous directions. There was a time (pre pandemic) when TRW was making a significant impact on buildings throughout the city.

Team Razor Wire

Directly next door to the TRW emblazoned building was the Albright-Knox’s Dance Everyday mural, located at 537 East Delavan Avenue.

All of these (little and big) artistic efforts are starting to add up, in a neighborhood that is directly benefiting from the contributions, not to mention the Northland buildings, which are impressive unto themselves.

Earlier in the year I paid a visit to the workforce training center and AK gallery space and was blown away by what I found…

Since that initial visit, I’ve come across plenty of spinoffs in the surrounding neighborhood, from art projects to the establishment of Buffalo Urban Development Corporation’s (BUDC) Beltline Plaza, located at the corner of Northland Avenue and Winchester Avenue. Essentially this entails the construction of a new park setting, with a concentration on stormwater and biodiversity management. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper was a project partner.

Wooden cogs from a Northland warehouse were used to create sculptures made from sand molds created by the cog patterns.  

Not only does it provide a peaceful park for people to enjoy, it’s also demonstrates how we can create park settings that are inclusive of nature. Not fake nature, but real nature.

There’s waymarking, a beautiful rain garden (with native plants for pollinators), trashcans, bike racks, bollards, lighting, stormwater planters and a bioswale, places to sit, tree plantings, and public art (sculptures made from sand molds created by the cog patterns). I would love to see more of these types of micropark settings in other areas along the East Side. This particular park helps to create a sense of place, with its educational, transformative, and peaceful surroundings.

What makes all of these projects so impactful is that they are concentrated along the Northland Corridor, and are all within walking distance. There is a new sense of pride in this neighborhood, which is rippling outwards into the residential neighborhoods. Like Larkinville and Chandlerville, the Northland Corridor – aka Northland Beltline – is a destination-in-the-making that is now considered a “must visit” for anyone who is excited about the reawakening of Buffalo.

When you visit, be sure to grab some food at Manna, inside the Northland Center.

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Hervé Tullet: Shape and Color Resident Artist Murals

Resident artist muralists Fotini Galanes, Julia Bottoms, Rachel Shelton, Tricia Butski, Max Collins, and Phyllis Thompson have contributed towards a public work of art at 714 Northland Avenue. The collective piece was created as part of the Albright-Knox’s Hervé Tullet: Shape and Color exhibition, via an artist residency program. The work was created at, and is featured across the street from, the Albright-Knox Northland site (the exhibition ran June 26–September 12, 2021). The mural is currently on display.

^ Fotini Galanes’s An End A Beginning, Julia Bottoms’s Heirloom, Rachel Shelton’s Adaptive Cycle, Tricia Butski’s Equally Distant, Max Collins’s Humboldt Parkway: Now & Then, and Phyllis Thompson’s Nurturer

 

Along with generating exposure for the artists, the initiative was also a way to introduce the canvas of Polytab to a broad regional audience, according the Albright-Knox. Polytab is “a nonwoven material that is easily transported and can be worked on in small pieces,” thus allowing public works of art to be painted off site, and then easily moved to more permanent locations. The material opens the doors to a lot more artists, who are able to work on the pieces at their respective studios. In this case, the artists were on full display at the AK Northland site, which allowed spectators to view the works in progress. The Polytab system is also great for the winter season, where artists can work inside, as they await warmer weather to install the completed murals. 

Hervé Tullet: Shape and Color was made possible through the generosity of Wegmans, Helen and Andy Cappuccino, and Mrs. Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.

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Big Deal: Jemal Buys Simon Properties

Douglas Jemal has closed on the purchase of the Simon Electric properties concentrated along Ellicott Street.  Jemal paid $5 million for the properties under the Jemals Simon LLC.  Plans call for a three-phase redevelopment effort that includes up to 600 apartments if his proposal for the City’s Mohawk Ramp is selected over two others.Simon Electric’s properties were first put up for sale in 2019. Despite strong interest, Simon never found the right deal. The holdings include seven buildings with 80,500 sq.ft. of space and a total 1.78 acres of property.

Plans call for 400 residential units and commercial space on the Simon sites and 200 units on the Mohawk Ramp site.  Ten percent of the units would be affordable. Development would occur in three phases over three years beginning with a two-level addition to the parking ramp and reuse of the Burns Building at 25 E. Huron Street with a new structure on the parking lot next to it along Ellicott Street.  Phase two includes 250 units along the east side of Ellicott Street north of E. Huron Street while preserving existing historic structures.

Jemal says he will move forward with his plans even if his proposal for the Mohawk Ramp site is rejected in favor of one of the two remaining competing plans.

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On the Market: Cornerstone Lofts

Cornerstone Lofts’ condominiums are now for sale with prices starting in the low $200,000’s.  Located at 340 Bird Avenue, the adaptive reuse created twelve residences in the former  Bethlehem Presbyterian Church. Built in 1909, Bethlehem Church was the cornerstone of its community. Over a century later, the legacy of this landmark has been restored and brought to new life as Cornerstone Lofts.

The project offers a variety of spacious, open floor plans beaming with natural light and featuring original exposed brick, custom designed cabinetry, luxurious finishes, full appliance packages, and private parking.

“Neighboring Buffalo State, and just steps from the art galleries, restaurants, and shopping of the Elmwood Village, Cornerstone Lofts offers more than just a home,” said Robert Blake, Exclusive Agent for the project. “It offers atmosphere, culture, and community.”

“I believe my great-grandfather would have been amazed at how his architectural design has remained intact and has been adapted to be part of Buffalo 112 years after he designed the original structure” said Lucy Miller Haskins, great-granddaughter of Bethlehem Church architect Martin Miller. “He’d be proud that his design has stood the test of time and has been transformed with new life.”

The development preserves the history of the building and its surroundings. “To us, it was important to maintain the look and the feel while modernizing the building to meet today’s design standards, taste, and needs of the community” said Peter Hunt, Partner in Cornerstone Lofts. “Bringing something new to the ever-evolving Buffalo community, this project was designed and built with passion and with spirit for the next generation of Buffalonians.”

Cornerstone Lofts are walking distance to Elmwood Avenue, Delaware Park, The Albright Knox Museum, and Burchfield Penney Art Center, and are minutes from downtown. Floor plans range from one to three bedrooms and are priced from $219,900 to $425,000.  Residences feature:

Private street-level entrances for each unit
Open-concept floor plans
Soaring ceilings: 18-feet in mezzanine units; 10-feet in garden-level units
Expansive windows bathing each unit with natural light
European-style custom cabinetry
Full stainless-steel appliance packages
Countertop-depth refrigerators
In-unit washer and dryer
Gas stoves
Original exposed brick
Luxurious bathroom and kitchen finishes
Private, fenced parking included with each unit

Get Connected: Robert Blake or Deacon Tasker, 716.321.HOME

 

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Five Cent Cine: Acasă, My Home

This lush, riveting, award-winning film pits a family living off the grid against agents for social and environmental change, with consequences that threaten to tear the family apart. The setting is an urban wilderness on the edge of Bucharest, Romania, that evolved from a planned, Communist-era dam and failed real estate projects into Europe’s largest urban nature park.

Parents Gică and Nicolina, in back, with 7 of their 9 children. Later, an angry Gică asserts his authority: “I’m their father; I can kill them.”​

As the film opens with a group of young boys wending their way through tall weeds and paddling on a pond, it’s hard to believe what we’re seeing isn’t fiction.  These are some of the 9 children of Gică Enache and his wife, Niculina Nedelcu, who have made these abandoned 500 acres their home for 18 years. And it’s the unlikely journey of this Roma family—not Văcărești Nature Park, fascinating tale tho’ it is—that’s the subject of director and co-writer Radu Ciorniciuc’s provocative documentary.

 

Gică is the high-school-educated patriarch who once had an ordinary job (chemistry lab assistant) and then decided to live apart from “wicked civilization.” He and his wife fiercely protect their brood. “Hide the children,” they yell, when social workers approach their hut in the woods, threatening to take the children to orphanages or foster homes. Through Ciorniciuc’s lens, the lives of the siblings seem idyllic: grabbing swans with bare hands, swimming in the reservoir, catching fish at night, rolling around with each other at play, sleeping in the same bed. They’ve learned the life skills to survive in these fields, pools, and woods that nature has bequeathed them from abandoned industrial projects.

When the powers that be decide the land should be a nature park—and that the living situation of the children is “dangerous”—the battle lines are drawn between the Enaches and the government. Except the Enaches are not idealistic, ecologically sensitive Thoreaus. Perhaps sensing the fragility of his hold on the family, Gică seems to want to keep the children illiterate—into the stove goes a children’s book they’ve been given; they live in, and burn, garbage. And the government representatives are not all evil. Social agencies try to provide housing and education for the family after they’ve been forcefully re-settled in the city and a bulldozer arrives to remove the remains of their hut.

This “clash of civilizations” results in a sacrifice of this family’s way of life for what some will understand as a greater good: the nature park. The Enaches see themselves as stewards of the property. They’ve identified species living there that others have not. They know the land and would be able to communicate its secrets to tourists and visitors, and it’s clear that in a weak (and pathetic) moment, Gică imagines himself becoming a Park Ranger. But this is not enough to allow the Enaches to continue to live in a domain they’ve occupied for almost two decades. Even Britain’s Prince Charles, known for his support of environmental causes, gets in on the action, planting a tree so spindly that it stands in comic contrast to the willows Gică has planted, an offense to the way the Enaches have engaged and understood the terrain. In a poignant moment, Gică asks the Park Ranger if he can plant more willows. “The botanists will decide,” is the response. 

There are clashes within the family as well, as the Enaches try to adapt to the urban center that is just a multi-lane highway and concrete levee away from their old homestead. Oldest son Vali, who has kept the family fed with his night fishing (and by selling some of his catch), defies his father with his desire to be in, and of, the city. The next oldest teen, Rică, struggles in school with his letters and with phonics; humiliated and resentful, he wants to return to the wilderness life. An angry Gică asserts his authority: “I’m their father; I can kill them.”

There are no easy answers here, just profound questions. To whom does the land belong? Are those who have been “stewards” of the land entitled to live on it?  What does it mean to head a family? Is illiteracy a trade-off for living off the land? Is it worth sacrificing a family’s way of life for the “greater good” of a nature park that will serve thousands? Is a bike path for the middle class more important than one, very large, poor, working-class family?

“Acasă, My Home” is beautifully crafted. The people speak for themselves: no voice-overs, no talking heads, no explanatory captions, no details during the credits of what happened “after” the film. It’s gorgeous, emotionally charged, and challenging.

Date: 2020

Acasă, My Home (“Acasă”) – Stars: 3.5 (out of 4)

Director: Radu Ciorniciuc

Starring: As themselves: the Enache family (father, Gică; mother, Niculina Nedelcu; older two sons, Vali and Rică, and 7 other children), Britain’s Prince Charles

Countries: Romania, Germany

Language: Romanian, subtitled in English

Other Awards: 23 wins, including best World Cinema Documentary Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival, and 16 other nominations

Runtime: 86 minutes

Availability: For rent, streaming or purchase on multiple sites, including AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play and others; see JustWatch here.

Lead image: Four of the Enache boys on their idyllic (probably polluted) pond.

See all Five Cent Cine reviews by 2 Film Critics

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Mystic of the Midway Virtual Book Launch & Discussion

This past March, I wrote about Canadian author A.A. Blair’s efforts to publish a book about Crystal Beach amusement park (1890-1989), titled Mystic of the Midway. At the time, the book was available on a preorder basis.

As a child of the 80’s, Blair’s connection with the Park allowed him to craft a spellbinding tale that will appeal to mid-grade readers (ages 7-11).

Now, Blair is in the process of promoting a virtual book launch that will take place on Sunday, October 17, from 2-3pm. The book launch will include a conversation with Blair and some of his friends, who were all fans of the iconic regionally-situated amusement park. 

“We’ll have Histria Books (the publisher) there to talk about their Histria Kids imprint, what they are looking for from authors, and what about Mystic of the Midway influenced their decision to publish the (fictional) story, explained Blair. We’ll also have a Crystal Beach historian, who will talk a little about the park’s history, what it meant to the community and some of the lore surrounding the park, and its ghosts. I’ll talk a little about the inspiration for the book and the publication journey, community support, etc. I’ll also do a reading. So I’m hoping there’s a little something for everyone. People who want to hear more about the story, people interested in the history of the park and folks interested in the publication process.”

histriabooks.com | info@mysticofthemidway.com

Plot:

After a horrible accident, Effie and her family speed away to their summer cottage to escape the tests and doctors’ appointments. The promise of a relaxing family getaway is short lived when Effie stumbles across a mystery that threatens to destroy her family.

Effie enlists the aide of her detective brother, Jimmy, along with her long time Crystal Beach friends Lydia and her mischievous little brother Sniff. As their investigation deepens Effie begins see and hear things that couldn’t be real.

Effie struggles to overcome self-doubt and the realization that her idyllic vacation spot isn’t what it seems to be. Trying not to lose faith, Effie embraces her new abilities hoping the whispers and signs will lead her and her friends to the answers they need to save her family.

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Buffalo Treats That Take Pumpkin Spice to a New Level

We know you know about pumpkin spice lattes (“PSLs”), apple cider slushies, and apple cider donuts. While delicious, if you’re looking to breakaway from the basic autumnal treats, there are some places around Buffalo doing some incredibly fun, creative and downright unusual things with pumpkin spice and fall flavors. Here are the new fall menu items you can’t miss this season!

Pumpkin & Cream Brioche Bomb | Butter Block

The goods: Butter Block’s light and fluffy brioche dough is filled with the right mixture of pumpkin, warm spices and topped with brown-butter streusel.

Where: Butter Block, 426 Rhode Island St, Buffalo / butterblockshop.com

Pumpkin Spice Sweet Potato Fries | Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs

The goods: Hand cut sweet potato fries tossed in a warm five-spice blend and served with a side of sweet, creamy pumpkin butter.

Where: Frank Gourmet Hots Dogs, 707 Kenmore Ave, Kenmore / findfranknow.com

Pumpkin Spice Burger | Big Ditch Brewing

The goods: Pumpkin spice seasoned burger with arugula, gingered honey aioli, sliced tomato, served with hand cut fries.

Where: Big Ditch, 55 E. Huron St, Buffalo / bigditchbrewing.com

Apple Crisp Pizza | Jay’s Artisan Pizza

The goods: A Detroit-style square pie with a blend of cheeses, apples, strudel crunch, housemade caramel and whipped cream.

Where: Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria, 2872 Delaware Ave, Kenmore / jaysartisan.com

Apple Crisp Waffle | Wonder Coffeehouse

The goods: Honeycrisp apple slices, caramel, granola and cinnamon on Wonder’s house-made, from-scratch Liege waffles.

Where: 323 Ganson St, Buffalo / wondercoffeehouse.com

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Milkshake | Hertel Avenue Poutine & Cream

The goods: This pumpkin spice cheesecake milkshake from Hertel Avenue Poutine & Cream is served in a huge mason jar and even includes a pumpkin to take home!

Where: 1488 Hertel Ave, Buffalo / eatpoutine.com

Harvest Pie | Foibles Coffee & Pie

The goods: Filled with summer squash, rutabaga, potatoes, fresh garlic and caramelized onion. Comes with or without smoked gouda.

Where: 172 Rhode Island St, Buffalo / foiblescafe.com

Pumpkin Seed Brunch Tartine | Britesmith Brewing

The goods: Toasted sourdough, whipped ricotta, sliced prosciutto, thyme infused blood oranges, toasted pumpkin seeds, Castlevetrano extra virgin olive oil, basil, served with a side salad.

Where: Britesmith Brewing, 5611 Main St, Williamsville / britesmithbrewing.com

Pumpkin Everything | Blue Eyed Baker

The goods: Pumpkin spice cakelettes, pumpkin brioche rolls, pumpkin spice donuts, pumpkin croissants, and a fall themed 6-inch cake.

Where: Blue Eyed Baker, 33 Elm St, East Aurora / blueyedbaker.net

Oktoberfest Specials | Hofbrauhaus Buffalo

The goods: Throughout Oktoberfest, enjoy Hofbrauhaus Buffalo’s traditional German meals including Knuspriger Schweinebauch (crispy pork belly served with our Dunkel beer gravy, creamy stewed bacon onion Napa cabbage and potato dumpling), Knusprige Schweinshax’n (crispy pork shank served with potato dumpling, green cabbage bacon salad, and dark beer gravy), and Germknödel mit Vanillesosse (steamed yeast dumpling filled with plum jam, served with vanilla sauce and poppyseed).

Where: Hofbrauhaus Buffalo, 190 Scott St, Buffalo / hofbrauhausbuffalo.com

BONUS | Pumpkin Spice Wings

The goods: Yup, Frank’s is getting a little basic this football season with crispy baked wings coated in Frank’s RedHot original seasoning and pumpkin pie spice. Finish ‘em off with a maple syrup glaze for the ultimate in sweet-hot deliciousness.

Where: Your house! Recipe here: franksredhot.com

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