Cool, fall-like temperatures early Monday served as the perfect backdrop for visitors to munch on delicious doughnuts and slurp down hot, robust coffee during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Dunkin’ Donuts business on South Avenue at the corner of Chautauqua Place.
“Hey everybody, welcome to Dunkin’ Donuts,” yelled the Dunkin’ mascot as he ran out the front door of the business moments before the ceremony began.
Bradford Mayor Tom Riel addressed the crowd of city officials, Dunkin’ officials, contractors and the public who stopped by for the opening event.
“If you folks remember, just four years ago this month … there were 11 structures that sat here and over 13 parcels,” Riel said of the history of the property. “One of those structures was in the county repository, one was about to go to the tax claim bureau and probably every one but two or three were blighted in some degree.”
He said that all changed when city officials met with local businessman John Kohler and convinced him to acquire all of the buildings on that block, as he already owned two of the structures. From there, buildings, that included the Terminal building, were razed — all at no cost to the community.
By February of 2017, the city heard a Dunkin’ corporate official was looking around Bradford, prompting Riel to contact the official. The rest is history, as the official liked the looks and location of the South Avenue corner. The Dunkin official decided to look for a developer, who turned out to be the Patel brothers of Bapa Network LLC., who started the process to make the business a reality.
“There were no public funds used in this project at all,” Riel reiterated, noting the development cost just over $4 million to complete. He said the Dunkin’ business, which has hired 30 local employees, will rent out six upscale apartments located on the second floor of the structure.
“We’re told that these apartments are all spoken for, in fact Manish (Patel, CEO of Bapa), just told me he wished he had put a third floor in,” Riel added.
He said the project is important as it has been decades since downtown Bradford has seen new development of this size. The project, its apartments and Phase 2 development of the building’s development which is expected to house a Baskin Robbins business, ties in neatly with the $1.7 million revitalization Streetscape project on Main Street, funded by grants and local and private donations. Riel said another proposed project that is hoped to take place is at nearby downtown property where an ATA bus terminal is expected to be built. Also adding to the downtown landscape is the new Bradford Brew Station in a building which cost $1 million to refurbish and renovate; and the $4 million renovation project of the Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center located in the Marilyn Horne Hall building.
Riel said a number of local people and companies made the Dunkin’ project a reality, including Kessel Construction general contractors, Pure Tech, Shembeda Flooring, J.M. Siffrinn Masonry and Concrete, and C.J. Wallace Engineering.
“We’re excited we got this area cleaned up and we have something that will build our tax base and provide 30 plus jobs,” Riel remarked. “And it improves our image downtown.”
Robbie Patel, speaking on behalf of his brothers, said he was pleased with how quickly the building was constructed.
“As soon as the building was up, construction went very fast,” Patel said.
Teri Cannon, city administrator, said the business will not only help the tax base but is also expected to bring people into the downtown area.
“It’s another place to be downtown that has sandwiches and wraps,” Cannon said, before buying doughnuts to take back to Bradford City Hall.
Shelby Prescott, an employee who was working in the drive-through of the shop, said she was pleased to work for the new business.
“I actually like it … we trained for almost two weeks,” she said during a brief break between cars driving through.
A customer, Gary Stewart, said he lives in the neighborhood and plans to visit the business as much as possible.
“I’m sure I’ll be here quite a bit,” Stewart said with a smile.
Dunkin’ is open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.