By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Mostafa Tanbakuchi, who recently expanded his furniture business in North Tonawanda, began his career as a mechanical engineer working for two prominent companies beginning in the 1970s before launching his own computer business.
But his attention quickly turned to real estate opportunities in Western New York and what he saw as the untapped treasures that existed in the region.
”As my business expanded I started to purchase my own real estate and began falling in love with the architecture in the Buffalo area,” he said. “And I sort of liked the idea of buying stuff that nobody wanted. This is a beautiful place and lot of people just don’t give it enough credit.”
Tanbakuchi began his real estate aspirations with his first major purchase on Sheridan Drive in Amherst, where medical offices were beginning to flourish.
He followed up by buying another building next door, where he began the Ridge Home Furnishings company, before turning his sights to the Twin Cities.
After it sat vacant for nearly a decade, Tanbakuchi purchased the Tonawanda Castle in 2003, transforming the former armory into a beacon for special events and other gatherings. Then it was on to North Tonawanda, where his wife, a physician, grew up. In the Lumber City, both saw opportunities in real estate.
He purchased a former car dealership at 27 Main Street, brought it back to life and began his second Ridge Home Furnishings location. But as development projects continued to spring up in North Tonawanda’s downtown corridor, he closed the furniture company’s Amherst location in September and moved all his wares to Niagara County, expanding the floor space by roughly 5,000 square feet.
”It made sense,” Tanbakuchi said. “We are seeing more action in North Tonawanda, people are more interested in the area and Main Street feels like there’s more traffic. And people in Niagara County and the Tonawandas are more loyal customers.”
Tanbakuchi began the furniture store with a loan from the Lumber City Development Corporation, which has stood as a leading impetus for much of the growth in the city’s business sector in recent years. It has brought in millions in grants through North Tonawanda Community Development and given out significant amounts in the form of low interest loans to more than two dozen businesses.
”That’s exactly what we hoped would have happened,” said Michael Zimmerman, planning and development coordinator for the LCDC. “We gave him a good loan to get his business up and running and fix that building up. Now he’s been successful and advanced another step. He’s an entrepreneur and was able to spin that into the next project. That’s the kind of success story we’d like to have and the type of investor we’d like to have more of.”
Meanwhile, with half of his 25,000 square-foot building made up of warehouse space, Tanbakuchi said he may consider one day converting it to fit in with the boutique shops and urban-style businesses slowly taking root downtown. He’s also adding European-style furniture that may better fall in line with the condo culture that is springing up in the nearby Remington Lofts.
”We are committed to this area,” he said. “And we want to be around to help influence it change.”Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.