The Buffalo News: Blue Cardinal Capital to seek tenants for Main Street buildings in Niagara Falls

Blue Cardinal Capital, the Buffalo development firm that recently bought 38 parcels of real estate on and near Main Street in Niagara Falls, said this week it will soon look for tenants for some of the most intact buildings.

The company also hired another Buffalo firm, Preservation Studios, to assist with plans to apply for historic preservation tax credits that might help finance the renovation of those buildings.

“There’s some of the buildings we’re going to start right away, believing we can fill them with tenants,” said Bob Richardson, managing partner of Blue Cardinal.

He said he’s hoping to find tenants for 10 to 12 buildings soon, without waiting for a ruling on tax credits.

“The Jenss building is a critical one,” Richardson said, referring to the former department store at 1708 Main St. “The one I think is the most ready is 1902 (Main).”

That three-story building, directly across the street from the city police and courts building, was once an auto dealership.

Early redevelopment efforts will also focus on a one-time shoe store at 2002 Main, Richardson said.

His company spent $3.2 million in June to buy 200,000 square feet of buildings and about two acres of vacant lots from Richard Hastings, a Youngstown businessman who tried unsuccessfully to spark a Main Street revival.

The buildings date from the early 20th century, and Preservation Studios said in a news release that it intends to compile applications to place some of them on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as seeking tax credits.

“The Historic Tax Credit is an important economic driver in communities like Niagara Falls,” said Derek King, Preservation Studios’ principal, architectural historian and operations director.

“By being listed on the National Register, these properties will be eligible for 40% in tax credits on any work they do on their buildings,” King said.

The applications for the National Register and the tax credits should be complete by the end of the year, he said.

Richardson explained after a June 19 news conference announcing the purchases that he was enticed by Main Street’s proximity to Canada and the removal – expected to be complete next year – of the Niagara Scenic Parkway separating the city from the Niagara River Gorge.

He also promised occasional public information sessions to update residents on the progress of Blue Cardinal’s work.

The Buffalo company first became involved in Niagara Falls last December, when it agreed to manage the city’s Opportunity Zone Fund, which matches up to $1 million in private investments in economically distressed areas.