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Grant St. benefits from $500,000 gift

Improvements to a resurgent section of Grant Street on the West Side were celebrated Tuesday by community members, city officials and shop owners.

Six businesses and residences along two blocks, between West Delavan and Auburn avenues, and the community's streetscape were beneficiaries of a $500,000 Main Street Grant.

"This was a project that benefited individual business owners, but more than that the community as a whole," said Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, a longtime housing advocate who conceived the grant.

"It's going to strengthen our business district with an investment that will hopefully last a generation," he said.

The competitive grant was made possible through New York State Homes and Community Renewal, with support from Local Initiatives Support Corp.

West Side Bazaar, Sweet_ness 7 Cafe, New to You and Argybargy Printing were among the businesses bolstered with improvements that included new heating, electrical and plumbing systems, and facade upgrades.

As people gathered to view the improvements, workers from Buffalo Geothermal Heating were installing a geothermal system to support a building that will house Kinan Architects on the ground floor and residences upstairs.

A pocket park and rain garden also was built at the corner of Grant and Lafayette Avenue. It will be enhanced with picnic tables and built-in chess boards, with the goal of making the area a place for people to congregate.

People United for Sustainable Housing and its development arm, Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Co., located building owners seeking to improve their buildings, and assisted them with the design and construction phases.

"I think [the grant's] completely made this neighborhood a destination," said Matt Palmieri, local program administrator for Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization, noting the repointing of bricks, improved lighting and better visibility.

Two businesses also will be opening in storefronts owned by Prish Moran, proprietor of Sweetness_7 Cafe, who received a new air conditioning system from the grant.

B. Ferrante's, whose sign on the door advertises "specialty Italian cookies and pastry," is scheduled to open Wednesday. Global Villages is expected to soon follow.

Main Street Grants also have gone to business districts in Elmwood Avenue, the Larkin District and the Village of Hamburg.