President of First Amherst Development Group since 2005, Ben Obletz joined the family business in 1999 as a 3rd generation owner and developer and is making his mark in the Buffalo commercial real estate development community.
First Amherst Development Group is a commercial and residential development, management, and leasing company, with multiple affiliated entities and ownership companies. Ben has served as lead partner in major development and adaptive re-use projects that are considered pioneer in the rebirth of downtown living in the City of Buffalo.
In 2003 he led the conversion of the former Elk Street food terminal into upscale luxury apartments, now known as The Lofts @ Elk Terminal. Soon after, he led his project team in the development of The Granite Works, a mixed-use development located on the 800-block of Main Street in downtown Buffalo, involving the renovation and re-use of five adjacent historic structures into a combination of residential and commercial/retail properties.
Ben has worked closely with the City of Buffalo, the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) and the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), to bring new life to older buildings in the Queen City. He has become a subject matter expert and industry spokesperson on the topic of adaptive re-use housing, downtown Buffalo housing, and historic preservation.
Ben started his career “in the trenches” of real estate development and management, first as a property manager with a national property management company in 1997. In 1999 he joined First Amherst as a Property Manager, and in 2003 was promoted to Director of Property Management. He became President of First Amherst in 2005.
Ben has considerable experience in all aspects of the company’s property operations in western New York. While providing leadership and direction to an executive management team responsible for leasing, marketing and administration, accounting, finance and development, and property operations, he continues to be involved in the development and management of numerous commercial, retail, industrial, and residential properties.
Awards and Honors
As a result of Ben’s leadership in the development of The Granite Works, his company received the “Buffalo Preservation Award” from the City of Buffalo Preservation Board; the “Pewter Plate Award” from the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier for exemplary preservation leadership; and the Business First “Brick By Brick” award for Best Residential Project.
Ben also accepted a “Zenith Award” from the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, honoring First Amherst Development Group for exhibiting superior dedication to maintaining the highest standard of ethical performance and professional service to its customers.
Personal awards include Buffalo Spree magazine’s “Best Developer of WNY” award, the “Horizons Citizen of the Year Award” from the Boy Scouts of America in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the local community and dedication to serving western New York, and the Working For Downtown (WFD) “Fernbach Award” for his commitment to the aesthetic improvement of downtown Buffalo.
Education / Community Involvement
A native of Buffalo, Ben graduated from The Park School of Buffalo, and majored in Business Management at the University at Buffalo. He is an Executive Board member and Secretary of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and he is Chairman of the Board of 43x79, a forum of business leaders with a common philosophy towards the betterment of western New York. Ben is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, Buffalo Urban Development Corp., and Erie County Medical Center Foundation. Previously, he was Co-Chair of the Buffalo Building Re-use Project led by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Board President of the Buffalo Police Foundation.