Buffalo’s downtown Main Street is brimming with activity where there was none – Theatre District performance nights; Town Ballroom; live bands on summertime Thursdays at Fountain Plaza for the Queen City Social; and a nice smorgasbord of restaurants and cafes.
But that is only part of the picture and one conspicuously drawn with cars sharing time with light rail. It is an entirely different picture along the portion without Cars Sharing Main Street.
Some businesses along those sections could use a face-lift and to help the process, Buffalo Place is again seeking $500,000 through the state’s New York Main Street grant program for façade renovations and other improvements. It would be a drop in the bucket for the state and money well spent here.
Buffalo Place, the nonprofit business improvement district, wants to use this fund to help businesses along Main Street between Seneca and Goodell streets.
Owners with projects on the back burner could get a boost from the grant secured through Buffalo Place. This is matching money with owners expected to pitch in half the project cost. For example, for building renovations that did not involve an affordable apartment, the maximum grant would be $50,000 and Buffalo Place would ask the owners to have at least a $100,000 project to request the grant.
The owners’ proposed projects range from small to large, but tend to include: preserving structures; meeting code; and turning parts of buildings currently vacant into usable spaces.
When the funds become available, someone who has been sitting on his property gets motivated, as Debra Chernoff, manager of planning for Buffalo Place said, adding they often do projects earlier than expected, retail spaces get filled, business matches get made.
Buffalo Place has received the grant in the past and could use it again to help businesses. The resurgence is still in process and building owners and developers continue to grapple with slow-moving rent rates which do not always pay for the renovations in few enough years to secure commercial financing. It is why the historic tax credit is so important, providing the funding to cover the gap.
The grant can be that critical thread.
Winners will be announced in the fall and a two-year grant awarded in January. Buffalo Place officials expect to start seeking applications from property owners on Main Street as early as March 2019. The nonprofit plans to use an advisory committee of architects, preservationists, environmental experts and real estate professionals to review and rate the applications. Officials will then allocate funds.
If Buffalo Place is lucky and is awarded funds, it will be up to the owners to do their part and pitch projects, taking advantage of an opportunity to improve downtown’s Main Street.