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An East Side nonprofit community development corporation is seeking to build a fine arts community center and apartment building on Jefferson Avenue and Best Street as part of an effort to revitalize what it calls the Gateway Village.

TOP Companies – whose leaders include a local bishop, a priest and a city court judge – wants to renovate the Lion Brewery building at 1035 Jefferson, build a new four-story arts building next door and rehabilitate the surrounding 3.5-acre site in one project he dubbed TOP Gateway Village.

The multi-phase venture aims to create 83 affordable apartments for seniors and families, as well as spaces for art galleries, banquets, private studios and pop-up vendors, as well as retail spaces .

In total, it will contain more than 119,751 square feet of space on a campus spanning both sides of Jefferson, while reviving a vacant two-story industrial building at a key intersection. The mix of apartments includes seven studios, 67 one-bedroom units and nine two-bedroom units.

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TOP works with New York-based community developer CB Emmanuel Realty. The project includes nine properties at 1003, 1009, 1035 and 1045 Jefferson, 403, 409 and 411 Best and 94 and 120 Earl Place. TOP also buys 409 Best. A later phase will involve another 1.5 acres on Jefferson’s west side, including city-owned lots.

A rendering of the renovated Lion Brewery building and a new arts center, proposed by TOP Enterprises Inc., at 1035 Jefferson Ave.

Buffalo Planning Council

“The goal of this project is to further activate and revitalize Jefferson Avenue both economically and culturally, while reinforcing the identity of the Jefferson and Best intersection as a vital urban node,” wrote the CPL architect Michael Mistriner, formerly Clark Patterson Lee, in a letter to the city’s planning board, which reviewed the project this week.

Affiliated with New Mt. Ararat Temple of Prayer Church, TOP was formed several years ago by a wide range of minority community leaders to focus on building neighborhoods on the East Side. The goal is to create walkable, sustainable neighborhoods while incorporating contributions from diverse segments of the Fruit Belt, Kingsley and Masten Park communities.

The group is governed by a 13-member board, led by President Paula McDonald. Other members include Mount Ararat’s new pastor, Bishop Dwight E. Brown, Reverend James E. Giles of Buffalo Peacemakers, and City Court Judge James A.W. McLeod.

TOP decided to restore and renovate the 36,965 square foot Lion Brewery Building into 24 apartments and 8,791 square feet of retail space, while constructing the new 83,791 square foot Beaux Arts Building. The latter would include 59 additional apartments and 28,144 square feet of space for art galleries, a multi-purpose banquet hall and meeting space, as well as private studios. It would also provide space for a pop-up restaurant with seating.

Jefferson-Lion 1035 Brewery and Arts Center Master Plan

A community master plan for the Lion Brewery renovation and construction of a new arts center and apartments by TOP Enterprises at 1035 Jefferson Ave.

Buffalo Planning Council

The Lion’s Brewery, which dates to 1871, will have commercial space on the ground floor along Jefferson, including a flagship restaurant, cafe, small museum gallery dedicated to the building’s history and other business purposes. The workers will restore the dentil details of the cornices and install glass in the existing loading bays on the ground floor on the west side to open this space to the street and pedestrians.

lion's brewery 1896.jpg

An 1896 advertisement for Lion Brewery.


Illustration of the Brasserie du Lion.

The new building is designed as an “additional neighborhood landmark” and will rise toward the Jefferson intersection but descend on a smaller scale toward Best and Earl Place.

The project includes separate public and residential entrances for the two buildings, and the property would be accessible by car from the entrances on Best and Jefferson. A total of 92 parking spaces would be provided on site, along with dedicated indoor bicycle storage and outdoor bike racks near each entrance, and the property would also include a community garden facing Earl and outdoor recreational space. for tenants, as well as a wellness resource center.

“This project is designed to improve the quality of life, create jobs, generate an economic boost in the area, and introduce programs that spark community involvement for current and future residents,” TOP states on its website. “Buffalo is a city known for its iconic architectural structures. It was also important to consider creating new structures that replicate the style and characteristics of other buildings in the area.”