In the heart of the ever-changing lower West Side sits 429 Rhode Island, a three-story building in the middle of the neighborhood’s Five Points. Currently, the restored building houses a Pilates studio and an art space, and soon it will feature an espresso bar too. The Remedy House is set to open later this summer. Building owner and preservation activist Frits Abell says having a storefront for this building in the epicenter of the neighborhood’s business district was crucial.
“I love this building. I saw a lot of potential with it,” says Abell, a developer who splits his time between Buffalo and New York, says. “I wanted to reactivate the storefront. I thought it was an important part of the neighborhood.”
Built in the 1800’s, Abell says his space at 429 Rhode Island was once home to a mercantile space, a post office and also a residence in its long history. The neighborhood’s latest addition, The Remedy House, started as a pop-up coffee stand. Now, co-owners Andrew Trautman and Justin Smith will have a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in this historic building and evolving neighborhood.
Reactivating storefronts is what has brought new life to this area. Frits credits Urban Roots, a community garden center currently celebrating its ten-year anniversary, as the catalyst for the growth of the Five Points. Press, next door, sells fresh juice drinks and Paradise Wine to the left offers wines from around the world.
In addition to these neighborhood mainstays, Four Corners Bakery, started by Melissa and Kevin Gardner, offers a gourmet toast, whole grain bread, coffee, and pastries. The Gardners moved to their current location across the street from Abells’ building two years ago.
“From the 24-year-old to the 95-year-old, we cross all socio and economic paths,” Kevin says, adding that part of their success is the welcoming character of the neighborhood. ”It’s the comfort level in here. Everyone is welcome."