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Mixed improvement shown along Main Street block

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Mike Desmond/WBFO

A long-decrepit downtown block is slowly turning around, pushed by political leaders, business pressure and building inspectors.

For many years, the buildings across Main Street from the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Belesario apartments have been best known for falling apart.

For sale signs and closed restaurants sat in plain view of anyone coming out of the Hyatt.

Ellicott District Common Council member Darius Pridgen says there is progress being made, shown by new businesses opening in the 500 Block of Main. 

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Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Ellicott District Common Council member Darius Pridgen appears with Shea's president Anthony Conte outside of Shea's, part of Pridgen's district on Main Street

There are signs of more coming, like a promised French restaurant.

The council member says the process hasn't been simple and hasn't been easy. Pridgen says there is the constant city problem of absentee landlords on the block.
"It has seen better days. What we currently have now is a majority of the land owners, of the building owners being absentee landlords," Pridgen said.

"Many of these folks bought buildings in the 500 block of Main Street when it was being rumored that they were going to rebuild the convention center and the thought was that it might be over in that area."

Pridgen says constant pressure from building inspectors and Housing Court and heavy fines are forcing landlords to get out or repair their buildings.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.