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Empire State Development board approves Buffalo's east side commercial district program

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Thu, Sep 19th 2019 02:20 pm

$2 million in funding will revitalize 4 main commercial corridors: MLK Park, Jefferson, Fillmore & Bailey avenues

The Empire State Development board of directors met and authorized ESD to move forward with the east side commercial district program, a new initiative for the City of Buffalo as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s previously announced $50 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund (ESCEDF). The program will provide $2 million in funding to four business districts for building renovations for small businesses in some of the east side’s most vital commercial corridors. Funding will help to revive traditional main streets and commercial corridors through the preservation of historic buildings, funding of capital improvements in neighborhood assets, and expansion of commercial opportunities in these neighborhoods.

ESD Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “With this significant investment in Buffalo’s east side, we are revitalizing businesses in underserved neighborhoods, adding to the city’s overall livability, vitality and character and inviting the east side to join in the economic recovery happening across Western New York.”

"Since the launch of the Buffalo Billion, we have made a commitment to ensure every neighborhood takes part in Buffalo's renaissance," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "This funding will jump-start ‎critical projects across the east side to improve walkability and quality of life. For generations, we saw neglect and disinvestment in areas across the city. Today, we are changing that trajectory and building a brighter future."

The governor’s Buffalo Billion 2 program focuses on ensuring Western New Yorkers have an improved quality of life, and includes programs targeted at revitalization in the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. As part of this strategy, Cuomo invested $60 million in Buffalo’s east side, of which $50 million is targeted toward making transformational capital investments in nine investment areas along four east side commercial corridors – Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore and Bailey avenues.

ESD is establishing this new $2 million commercial districts program to expand neighborhood-serving businesses, including retail, restaurants and other services; and increase mixed-use opportunities along strong commercial districts along Jefferson, Fillmore and Bailey avenues. ESD will partner with nonprofits that have successfully implemented similar programs in the past in each of these corridors to administer the program.

The ESCDP, which will be more responsive to community and business-owner needs than other existing “Main Streets Initiatives” will provide up to $500,000 each in funding for exterior and interior building renovations in the following four neighborhoods:

  • Kensington-Bailey, administered by the University District Community Development Association.
  • Jefferson Avenue, administered by Citizens Alliance Inc. in partnership with the Black Chamber of Commerce.
  • MLK Park District and Broadway-Fillmore District, both administered by Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services, which were selected because they represent traditional mixed-use commercial districts, there is demand from building owners.

The City of Buffalo's east side, which comprises more than 40% of the city's total land area, over 40% of total residents, and about 30% of total jobs and businesses, has not been on par with the rest of the city throughout Buffalo's revitalization. As part of the effort to improve the economic future of the east side, ESD led community outreach meetings on each of the four corridors. The east side commercial district program was developed as a result of the critical information gathered from community engagement.

The East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund booklet is available here.

For more information on Regional Councils and ESD, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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