Pop-up street projects on Grant Street and a host of studies intended to revitalize the commercial strip are expected over the next 12 months.
The revitalization efforts initiated by Assemblyman Sean Ryan builds on improvements that have seen litter on the business strip diminish, security improve and a half-dozen storefronts in the process of getting new facades. Ryan hopes the next phase will encourage the city to make infrastructural improvements similar to what's now occurring on Niagara Street, and for the state Empire State Development to support storefront enhancements done in other communities.
"We'd like to use all the information and success to do a two-pronged attack: One is a compete infrastructural overhaul, and the other being a big investment into the storefronts all along the strip," Ryan said.
The John R. Oishei Foundation is providing just under $100,000 for the Grant Street Revitalization Project. Niagara Council member David Rivera has given $17,000.
GObike Buffalo will survey Grant Street in areas such as traffic, transportation use, sidewalk and crosswalk conditions, trash cans and lighting.
Community surveys, by Preservation Buffalo Niagara, are intended to find out what types of businesses people in the immediate area want to see. That information could then encourage other businesses to move into vacant storefronts, Ryan said.
Technical assistance will be available for building owners deciding on whether to make additional investments in their property.
"I think there is a growing optimism amongst the shop owners, and then you layer in being selected for the New York State Main Street grant, which also helped raise the energy," said Ryan, whose office is located at 65 Grant St., near West Ferry Street.
"A lot of the shop holders have been here for the good times, the not-so-good times and there is a general feeling that we are entering into a more positive feeling for Grant Street," he said.
Pop-up demonstrations are intended to test possible solutions with temporary treatments. Bump outs at intersections, temporary bike lanes, utilizing parking spaces for social purposes and even a makeshift roundabout could be attempted.
"We can build some of these things, whether they last for a weekend or last for a month, and do the analysis on how it's working before the multi-million investments that take place," said Justin Booth, GOBike's executive director.
G&L Flooring Center, Frontier Liquor & Wine and Lorigos Meating Place each received $50,000 grants for facade improvements. Buffalo Coooperative Federal Credit Union, Freddy J's and the building at 83-89 Grant St. each received over $34,000.