Thanks to the support of Preservation Buffalo Niagara and an anonymous donor, the African Heritage Food Co-Op has a permanent home and an historic building is saved!
After months of back and forth negotiations, African Heritage Food Co-Op founder and General Manager Alexander Wright and members of his team had their hopes dashed when they were priced out of buying the vacant building at 238 Carlton Street.
But they never lost sight of their goal to own and operate a cooperative grocery store in East Buffalo that would provide fresh, healthy food at reasonable prices to the area’s “food dessert.”
The Co-Op’s motto: “Anything less than ownership is unacceptable.”
In March the Co-op moved into a temporary space in the Niagara Frontier food terminal on Clinton Street near Bailey Avenue. That was right after they opened their first brick and motor location to a receptive and appreciative community on Highland Avenue in Niagara Falls in February.
–238 Carlton appeared to be out of the picture. Until last month-
On Friday, May 24th, the African Heritage Food Co-Op and Preservation Buffalo Niagara announced that they have teamed up to save 238 Carlton Street from an emergency demolition order and to bring it back to life as the permanent home of the African Heritage Food Co-Op.
An anonymous community member had stepped forward, purchased the building and donated it to the Food Co-op.
–It was indeed an exciting day for change-
A gracious Alexander Wright expressed his thanks and appreciation to the unknown donor and Preservation Buffalo Niagara.
“We’re very excited about this opportunity,” he said, adding that the goal is to develop a completely sustainable grocery, stocked with healthy fruits and vegetables and other good food at affordable prices. It will also provide employment to the people who live in the community.
“We want to create enough revenue to not only help sustain the co-op but other businesses along this block,” he said.
He announced that the creation of a Carlton Co-Op Committee is also in the works to involve the community .
“This will be an opportunity for the residents to directly benefit economically from the Fruit Belt resurgence” continued Wright, “We plan to hire residents within walking distance and hopefully partner with surrounding institutions to aid in the healthy eating of their constituents.
“We cannot do this without the help of the community and allies…It’s a village and we need your support,” he continued. A fundraising campaign is currently underway. “We can’t do this without you!”
To support the project and make the Co-Op a reality faster, you can donate through Facebook at AHFCBuffalo, call 716-573-1844, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Preservation Buffalo Niagara commends the African Heritage Food Co-Op for its vision in not only preserving this building, but in preserving the culture and quality of life of the Fruit Belt,” said Jessie Fisher, Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara. “We are so proud to stand with these dedicated community partners and to work alongside them on this project.”
On May 30 the Buffalo Preservation Board approved the stabilization plan, which is the first step in removing the Fire Department’s order of demolition. Work is expected to begin soon.
(See also “Community Watchdog” below
Good News for the Fruit Belt and the African Heritage Co-Op Thanks to Efforts of Preservation Advocates and Anonymous Donor
Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood has been addressed on this communication list before. This neighborhood has been demeaned and decimated for decades with the community constantly fighting to save their homes and maintain the historic character of the area. A circa 1870 two story grocery store was slated for demolition after a fire. Thanks to the Commissioner of Permit and Inspection Services, the community was given time to organize and work with preservation advocates to save the building. An anonymous community member came forward, bought 238 Carlton, and donated the building through a real estate transfer to the African Heritage Food Co-op. On May 30, 2019, the Buffalo Preservation Board approved the stabilization plan, which is the first step in removing the Fire Department’s order of demolition. The structure is surrounded by empty lots on Carlton Street and this action not only provides the opportunity for a fresh food market in a food desert, but it also stems the creation of a larger “urban prairie.”