It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about 130 Genesee Street. This is the future location of Keelin Burke’s Realm retail store, which is located directly next to Blue Cave (a new Italian restaurant).
We first discussed Keelin’s pioneering initiative back in May of 2021. Since that time, a lot has happened – some good, some bad.
On the good news front, Keelin set up a temporary shop at 441 Ellicott Street, while the 130 Genesee Street location was being renovated.
On the bad news front, there was a partial collapse of 324 North Oak, which led to a total demolition of the building, unfortunately. Seeing that 324 North Oak bookended 130 Genesee Street, along with the Blue Cave building, the unfortunate set of circumstances caused a significant setback for Realm renovations.
As Keelin attempted to wrap her head around the delays caused by the demolition, and the pandemic (including supply chain problems and slowdowns at City Hall). She calls it the perfect storm. In the end, she figured that it was best to keep her nose to the grindstone. She took a freelance design position at Oxford Pennant, which soon-after led to her being promoted to Brand Marketing Manager.
“Oxford Pennant has been so supportive through all of the ups and downs,” said Keelin. “It’s been so much fun – I will continue to work for them for the foreseeable future, as I move into the Realm building. It’s essentially going to be a new building once all is said and done. It would have been easier and cheaper to knock it down and build a new building, it had fallen into significant disrepair. It required a lot more TLC than I imagined. But due to the historic nature of the district, it was more moral and ethical to rebuild. The building has been completely gutted. Work has been done on the foundation, the facade has been reinforced with steel, there’s a new roof, new floors… it’s basically a new building. It’s been a super long journey – almost two years since I entered into lease negotiations for the space. When it’s finished, it’s going to be another game changer for downtown though, with more events, and different activations. It’s going to look really really awesome, especially at one of the busiest traffic lights in downtown.”
The opening of Realm will go a long way towards creating a more vibrant and walkable neighborhood. A stone’s throw from the retail store are a number of restaurants, including The Salty Chefs, Jacks Corner Café, Fitz Books and Waffles, Eddie Brady’s, Toutant, Marble & Rye… and numerous others within short walking distance.
Starting in early November, Realm will add its own vitality to the neighborhood, which is just in time for the holiday season to commence. That bodes well for anyone looking to do some shopping, eating and drinking in downtown Buffalo. Hopefully Realm will be one of many retail stores to come. If Keelin gets the proper support from the entire community, that would certainly be possible, if not probable.