News Column

Former Roxy's bar in Allentown to become offices and apartments

May 2, 2014

By Jonathan D. Epstein, The Buffalo News, N.Y.



May 02--The downtown building that was formerly home to Roxy's, a well-known gay and lesbian bar, has been acquired by a Lewiston money manager and real estate investor, who wants to shift the property's focus toward the nearby Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Russ Conrad, founder and managing director of Princeton Equity Partners LLP, bought the property at 884 Main St. for $490,000. The seller was an investor group called Bilkim Holdings LLC that included William E. Regan. Conrad, whose minority partner on the project is Ron J. Rubino Jr., acted through Gemini Realty LLC.

Conrad, who has been investing in Lewiston real estate for some time, now plans to convert the three-story building into a mixture of residential and commercial space that would be "geared toward the medical campus in one way, shape or form."

"It's not going to be Roxy's again," he said. "I got stopped by a lot of folks that said, we'd really like to see you open it again."

He is planning loft apartments on the top floor and medical offices on the bottom two floors, noting that the 6,824-square-foot mansion-turned-lounge and nightclub building is directly across Main Street from the campus itself, and just two doors down from the renovated ZeptoMetrix headquarters. It's also down the street from several other renovation and adaptive re-use projects, including First Amherst Development Group'sGranite Works and Jim Swiezy's Bosch Building.

"All the people I know in New York City that are very successful in real estate have done it around jobs and healthcare, and both are in that area," he said. "Both are going to propel the real estate values over the next 10 years."

Conrad said he doesn't know how much he'll invest in the project, but "we're working with architects and builders and stuff right now, to figure out what we have." He plans to market it to a potential tenant base in the area, and will probably "build to suit" to meet a tenant's needs.

Built in 1883, the red-and-white building with a black awning is in the Allentown Historic Preservation District.

Conrad, a 42-year-old West Valley native and Buffalo State College graduate, is a financial advisor whose firm specializes in alternative investments for clients, particularly around real estate. His firm has offices in Texas, California and Florida, and serves high-net worth clients with average wealth of about $20 million.

Besides his professional firm's office at 716 Center St. in Lewiston, Conrad also owns in Lewiston the Village Bake Shop building at 417 Center, an old garage and service station at 800 Center that he plans to convert to a high-end martini bar or other restaurant, and an 1840s-era home at 120 North Seventh St. that he converted to four luxury apartments.

"I'm new to Buffalo as far as real estate. All my projects so far have been in Lewiston, where I live and reside and have my practice," he said. "I thought Buffalo was a great opportunity, especially that block."

email: jepstein@buffnews.com

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(c)2014 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)

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Source: Buffalo News (NY)


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