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Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore, City of North Tonawanda named winners in state downtown revitalization program

North Tonawanda mayor Art Pappas speaks Monday, November 29, 2021 in Buffalo
Michael Mroziak
North Tonawanda mayor Art Pappas speaks Monday, November 29, 2021 in Buffalo

Two local communities will receive $10 million for downtown transformation projects through a competitive state program.

Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin personally announced the winners Monday during a visit to Buffalo’s Broadway Market. The city’s Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, where the Market sits, is one of the recipients. The other $10 million awardee is the City of North Tonawanda.

The awards come from the fifth round of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a shining example of what communities can do when they believe in themselves and work together to create a better future not just for us, but for our kids and our grandkids,” Benjamin said. “And as we rebuild from this pandemic, our DRI is going to bring a new sense of hope to communities all across the state.”

While Buffalo city officials didn’t announce any specific plans for the money, the award is expected to help realize streetscape improvements, new greenspace and increased affordable housing opportunities.

Though it’s considered a historic icon and crown jewel in the neighborhood, the Broadway Market has struggled in recent years. The city has invested millions of dollars to fix up the building, and introduce a community kitchen space. Common Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski, who represents Broadway-Fillmore, would like to see some of the state award go toward additional improvements.

“I'd also like to see this money being spent on internal design of new boosts for vendors, because as we want to encourage new businesses to come inside the Broadway market, we have to make it desirable for new businesses,” said Nowakowski. “I really think that that's where we need to begin, you know, with revitalizing the Broadway Market.”

North Tonawanda Mayor Art Pappas expressed surprise and excitement for his city’s successful bid.

“This really refines our vision for downtown and our waterfront. With these funds, we can now leverage in complete unfinished plans and activities for our city,” Pappas said.

In all, the state is awarding shares of $200 million from a program set up to spur economic growth by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods. Half of the money was to be awarded last year, but the program was suspended due to COVID.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.