Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 4, 2013

HIGGS: Spotlighting January, February -- Robert and Andrea Pascoal and Yvonne's Bakery and Café

Niagara Gazette — I am combining the January and February Spotlight Award presentations this week.

I was thrilled when the Spotlight Award committee selected Robert and Andrea Pascoal for the January presentation as I have known them for quite some time. Residents of San Diego, they decided about 10 years ago to relocate part-time to Niagara Falls where Andrea was born and where her aging parents still lived. That way she could look after them and they could manage future investment property in this area both from here and back in San Diego.

Their first project was The Duke, a nine-unit apartment building located at 410 Cedar Ave. It was formerly a crack house and the building was a disaster. Bath tubs took hours to drain, the roof leaked, furnaces were inside the apartments with exposed ducts, brickwork was dangerously close to falling three stories to the ground and the residents were either on crack or selling it. Somehow Bob and I met for coffee and I took the tour of the building as it was. This wasn’t a fixer-upper and it took years to gut the building, take on a large amount of debt and change the reputation of the neighborhood. It has been 100 percent occupied with a high class of tenant since 2007.

Recently they purchased The Stratford, located on the corner of Walnut Avenue and 7th Street. Bob admits he was reluctant as they had already invested in several smaller rental units throughout the city and he was hesitant to take on another project in “a neighborhood where it is so difficult to find financially capable tenants with middle-class values.” He described these values as paying your rent on time, getting along with your neighbors and not destroying your apartment. He finally acquiesced and now feels the neighborhood is in a state of transition. He credits the demolition of several crack houses and the work of the block clubs to slowly work the magic of positive change. Since I live just blocks away I agree with his comments about the location which is just three blocks from Memorial Medical Center, two blocks form city hall and the casino, a 10 minute walk to the falls and grocery shopping and other amenities. The challenge he said “was the reputation of the neighborhood and stabilization of the building itself.”

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