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Restoration loans available in Lewiston TRUSTEE TERRY COLLESANO: "We are striving to keep that historic charm"

Restoring a historic property can be expensive, but a village leader has teamed up with a local bank to make the task more affordable.

First Niagara Bank has announced that it will offer qualified owners of historical residential properties special low-interest loans to help improve the already stately look of the village.

About 100 properties, both commercial and residential, are expected to be eligible.

Under the program, qualified owners of residential properties may obtain unsecured loans of up to $25,000 at an annual percentage rate of 7 percent, while commercial properties will be eligible for unsecured loans at the prime rate.

Village Trustee Terry Collesano said he had tried to start a special program for historical preservation eight years ago. It became part of his campaign platform last June.

"We are striving to keep that historic charm," Collesano said. "If you lose one [historic property] here and one there, pretty soon you are no different than any other village."

Collesano owns a barbershop on Center Street, the village's main strip. It features an old-fashioned barber pole. He said that following historic restoration guidelines can be very expensive.

"We need to offer incentives to buy these old homes," he said.

"In creating this program, First Niagara is responding to an ongoing need expressed by village property owners," said Michael Giaquinto, executive vice president of consumer banking for First Niagara Bank.

He said the bank was pleased to help spur additional historic preservation.

"It will continue to make the village a long-term tourist attraction and wonderful place to live," Giaquinto said.

Area contractors also will be available to help property owners make the appropriate preservation work.

"It is truly fitting, given our historic heritage in Lewiston, to have historic preservation encouraged as much as possible for the enjoyment and education of future generations," said Diane Finkbeiner, president of the Historic Association of Lewiston.

"I'm proud to be part of this," Collesano said. "It makes all our hard work worth it, knowing historic home owners are getting a well-deserved break. It's great for Lewiston."

Interested property owners can obtain further information on the program by visiting First Niagara Bank, 500 Center St.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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