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Peter Hunt unveils plans to renovate, re-envision downtown’s Brisbane Building

In the news

Renovations to the 1895-era building will include an artist’s gallery and studios for the first floor.

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

This article originally appeared in Buffalo Business First. See the original article here.

The pandemic afforded Peter Hunt some time to do something that had been nagging him for a while.

The chairman and CEO of Hunt Real Estate Corp. gave the Brisbane Building a good, hard look and didn’t like what he saw.

The result is the start of a multi-year renovation of the downtown seven-story building at 403 Main St., on the edge of Lafayette Square.

“I have a very sentimental attachment to this building,” Hunt said. “I respect the history of the building, but at the same time, I want to make it feel fresh and vital.”

Hunt’s father, C. Stuart Hunt, bought the building in 1985. When the elder and late Hunt moved, the company’s headquarters into the building following his acquisition, it marked the second time the real estate firm had been based out of the Brisbane Building. Charles Hunt, Peter’s grandfather, moved the firm into the building in the early 1920s – relocating from the Market Arcade complex. Over the years, Hunt Real Estate had downtown offices at 47 W. Huron St. and 237 Main St. before C. Stuart Hunt bought the Brisbane Building.

The exterior of the building, which opened in 1895, will be renovated, including masonry cleaning and terra cotta repairs. Hunt envisions reopening a long-closed entrance off South Division Street that will take people into a revamped lobby paying homage to the building’s past.

A look inside the Brisbane Building lobby.

The Visit Buffalo Niagara Visitors Center will be converted into a gallery featuring local artists who will be given free space on the first floor facing Washington Street. Hunt would like to open a wine bar and café on the first floor.

“A cultural component is a big part of what I want done here. It’s time to create a new kind of hub in downtown,” Hunt said. “I want people to view the Brisbane as an exciting place to be.”

The building’s 172,000 square feet is about 80% leased. Tenants include Hunt Real Estate, Visit Buffalo Niagara, Wilder & Linneball LLP, Burden Hafner & Hansen LLC and Greenman-Pedersen Inc.

Since 1985, Hunt Real Estate has had offices in five different spots within the Brisbane Building before settling on the second floor – an 18,000-square-foot spot recently vacated by Algonquin Studios. That floor now houses Peter Hunt’s office, Hunt Commercial Real Estate, Hunt Property Solutions and Hunt Mortgage Corp. Other Hunt offices are on the fourth and sixth floors.

Peter Hunt’s private office, which looks onto Main Street, is the same one that Buffalo businessman Edward Kleinhans occupied when he ran the Kleinhans Co. clothing store.

“My goal in all this?” Hunt said. “It is time to make a splash with the Brisbane Building.”