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15 downtown projects to share New York Main Street grant

Fifteen renovation and facade improvement projects along Main and Washington streets in downtown Buffalo will share nearly $450,000 in state grant funds designed to boost activity in one of the city's primary commercial corridors.

Buffalo Place on Wednesday announced the recipients of the fourth round of New York Main Street funds, which the nonprofit business improvement district organization administers.

The funds will help building owners make repairs to outside walls, replace windows, open up closed areas, convert offices to residential space, renovate apartments and upgrade an elevator, said Buffalo Place project manager Angela Keppel. The recipients are expected to invest $2 million on their own.

Unlike previous rounds, the latest competition covered an expanded area from Edward and Goodell streets in the north to Seneca Street in the south, creating more opportunities for a wider pool of applicants. Winners included developers, property owners, theaters and other businesses.

The winning projects include:

  • $20,000 for 710 Main St.: Shea's 710 Theatre will open up its box office area, installing glass to make it more visible while lowering the ticket window for handicapped customers and employees.
  • $20,000 for Alleyway Theatre at 664 Main, to reconfigure the doors along Curtain Up Alley for safety and security.
  • $40,000 for Benchmark Development's AMC Market Arcade 8 and Bijou Grille at 639 Main St., to repair the windows and exterior facade of the restaurant.
  • $40,000 for Legacy Development's Theater Place at 622 Main, to repair the terra cotta facade on both buildings.
  • $20,000 for the Buffalo Urban League to replace windows on the second and third floors of its building at 11 Genesee St. "They're are actual holes in some of their windows," Keppel said.
  • $40,000 for Jesse Zuefle's Angelica Tearoom building at 517 Washington, to remodel the upper third floor unit and install a new roof.
  • $18,000 for Amy Judd to install a ventilation system and hood along the back wall of the retail space at her Alexandre Apartments at 510 Washington, to allow for a restaurant.
  • $14,000 for the Western New York Book Arts Center at 468 Washington to fix a "masonry shift" in the first floor windows so they can be replaced.
  • $13,500 for Carmina Wood Morris PC and eCafe, to upgrade the restaurant space at 487 Main by bringing it up to code and doing some remodeling.
  • $22,000 for Rebecca McCauley to rehab the elevator at the Hudson Building at 483 Main.
  • $40,000 for Ellicott Development to rehab its Mohawk Building at 478 Main, converting the building to mixed-use with apartments on the second floor, after Erie County's HEAP program and other offices moved out. The second floor formerly had the Hens & Kelly marquee on the outside.
  • $40,000 for New Wave Energy to take off the brick and restore the facade of 410 Main, which was originally constructed in 1865.
  • $40,000 for Jerry Nelson to convert the SG Austin Building at 300 Main from office to residential space. The project would include facade repairs, cleanup and replacement of some window columns in the first phase of a larger project.
  • $40,000 for Paul Kolkmeyer's Priam Enterprises to restore the decorative cornice on the top of the Dunn Building at 110 Pearl. "That’ll be really impactful because it’s such an iconic building," Keppel said.
  • $40,000 for Merchants Mutual Insurance Co. to clean up and restore the front facade and its blade sign at 250 Main. The building gets "a lot of wind damage" because of its location across from the wide open One Seneca Tower plaza, so there's "lots of cracked cement and bricks," Keppel said.

Steve Carmina and Ellicott's Carl Paladino are both Buffalo Place directors, but neither was involved in the selection process, officials said.

In all, Buffalo Place awarded $447,500 for individual projects, plus $15,000 for streetscape work, while reserving $37,500 for administration of the grant. The organization originally received 28 applications, seeking $1.7 million, and whittled the options using a seven-member advisory committee of outsiders.

This is the fourth time Buffalo Place has applied for and received the two-year state grant, after previous initiatives in 2006, 2011 and 2015. Since 2009, the program has brought $1 million to Buffalo's Main Street for 23 projects, leveraging $4.5 million in private investment.

All projects must be completed within the two-year timeframe, before Buffalo Place can apply again for another grant.

"We’ve had really good success with the program," Keppel said.

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