In October 2014, Empire State Development accepted applications for the “Buffalo Main Streets Initative”, which is funding available through the Buffalo Billion. The Main Streets Initiative is geared towards “the revitalization of mixed-use (commercial, civic & residential) building or neighborhoods”.
The funding is intended for use on some of the following:
-stimulating economic revitalization of mixed-use districts to rehabilitate commercial building stock
-expanding affordable housing in mixed-use districts including accessibility to upper floor units
-preserving significant & historic buildings and attracting investment for adaptive reuse of the buildings for new functions
-addressing accessibility, cost, energy efficiency and health & safety issues to return vacant spaces to active reuse
There are 19 eligible Main Street Corridors in Buffalo that are eligible for grant funding. Kaisertown is included on Clinton Street from Kelburn to Pierce.
Here’s the bad part- we haven’t applied!
Round one funding applications were received in December 2014 and since then THIRTEEN projects that applied for funding under the Main Streets Initiative have received funding.
Among them are the following retail corridors: Broadway-Fillmore, Grant-Ferry, Elmwood Village, Lower Niagara Street, Seneca Street and Lovejoy Street. The average award for the projects listed above is $295,000. The funding must be applied for through a non-profit or business association (in this case I’m guessing the Kasiertown Coalition would be the avenue).
The funding can be used for the following types of projects, among others:
-Streetscape Enhancement: up to $25,000 for planting trees, installing street furniture, trash receptacles and installation of signs. Streetscape grants are ancillary to a renovation or construction grant request (it cannot be applied for alone).
-Target Area Building Renovation: Applicants (private real estate owners) can request between $50k and $500k for matching grants for renovation of mixed-use buildings. Awards can be issued up to $50k per building plus an additional $25k toward each residential unit renovated, not to exceed 75% of the total project cost or $150k per building whichever is less.
The funding can be used for new roofing or roofing repairs, improving exterior building aesthetics (siding, painting, windows, signage, ect), renovating interiors to produce higher quality affordable housing and more.
As I have written previously, rehabilitation and investment in Clinton Street is imperative for the renewal of Kaisertown. This funding is the exact type of program that is intended to spur such a renewal. We are fortunate that there is supposed to be a second round of funding available. It would be a major disservice to our neighborhood not to apply.
What can you do to assist if you don’t own property on Clinton Street but want to see this happen?
I hope that everyone who has spoken about hoping for a better Kaisertown, a more vibrant Clinton Street, a return to an active, safe and friendly neighborhood will speak up about this and share the post. I will attend the next Kaisertown Coalition meeting and bring it up as a point of new business. I invite you to join me at the meeting, to speak up about why this is important, to engage in conversation with businesses on Clinton Street and to tell your neighbors. At the end of the day it is our responsibility as a neighborhood to change the things we don’t like.