By Thomas J. Prohaska
News Niagara Reporter
LOCKPORT – The City of Lockport’s development agency passed out $315,500 worth of grants to 20 downtown businesses Thursday.
Most of the grants were for facade and other exterior improvements to buildings, but eight businesses received money for equipment purchases and other operating costs.
Those grants from the Lockport Microenterprise Program were made with federal Community Development Block Grant funds. They were limited to 75 percent of the total cost of a company’s planned purchases, according to Brian M. Smith, city planning and development director.
The board of the Greater Lockport Development Corp. approved grants of $20,000 each to Scripts Cafe on East Avenue and Widewaters on the Canal on Market Street, both restaurants.
The latter plans to reopen in 2016 under new ownership, three years after it closed following damage in a flash flood.
A new graphic design and marketing business on East Avenue, 12 Grain Studio, was granted $18,000. Awards of $16,500 each were made to Calderone Insurance Agency, Main and Transit streets, and The Penalty Box, the newly opened restaurant in Cornerstone Arena.
McCollum Orchards on North Adam Street was granted $11,000 for farm equipment; Relax Spa on Heritage Court received $10,000; and Gonzo’s, a Main Street bar, received $7,500.
The money for facade improvements came from Albany through the New York Main Street program. Smith said the recipients are required to match the grants dollar-for-dollar, and there were nearly 25 applications.
“It’s great there are that many business owners and property owners that are willing to invest,” Smith said.
One of the purposes of the grant was to try to spur the availability of apartments in downtown Lockport, but only one of the grants includes a residential component. The Pine Street building housing Sylvia’s School of Dance received $17,000, $10,000 of which will be used to create an apartment.
The largest grant allowed, $50,000, went to Iskalo Development Corp. of Williamsville, owner of the old post office at 1 East Ave., now a multi-tenant facility.
Old City Hall, 2 Pine St., now home to a winery, received $35,000. A $31,000 grant went to the Bewley Building at Main and Market streets.
A $20,000 award went to the Masonic Temple on Cottage Street. The Lockport Public Library received $10,000.
Other grants included $9,000 to J. Fitzgerald Group, owner of a building on West Main Street; $8,000 to the Historic Palace Theatre; $7,000 to Molinaro’s Ristorante; and $3,000 each to Tom’s Diner, the Shamus Restaurant and Papa Leo’s Pizzeria.
Smith said the city still has $19,000 available for the Main Street facade grants, which he hopes can be leveraged for more apartments, and about $6,000 for microenterprise assistance.