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State funds being put towards stabilizing older east side buildings through grant program

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WBFO News file photo
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Patching up roofs or fixing water leaks is the design of a $5 million grant through the state’s East Side Avenues project to address structural issues for older commercial use buildings so they can once again be viable commercial asset in the neighborhood.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Jessie Fisher said a history of redlining and disinvestment in the east side has left many buildings on the brink of being demolished. Maintaining these buildings will help to maintain growth and vibrancy along east side commercial corridors.

Jessie Fisher Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Thomas O'Neil-White
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WBFO News
Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Jessie Fisher outside of Golden Cup coffee shop

“Unlike an Elmwood Avenue or Hertel where you have these intact streetscapes,” she said. “You'll come over to Clinton Street or Jefferson and you'll see so many broken teeth in the smile and missing buildings and so we want to make sure that doesn't happen ever again.”

The grant offers up to $150,000 for stabilization purposes which the grantee must match 10% of.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara is partnering with UB’s Regional Institute and Empire State Development on the local level and said the program’s infrastructure is built for success.

“Unlike a lot of grant programs where the goal of the application is to kind of to knock people out, ‘Oh, you didn't do this correctly, you didn't fill in this thing so you aren't going to be considered,’” she said. “We have full time staff person who will call you up and say, ‘Hey, you forgot this piece of paper. Let's make sure we get that and we want to get this money into the community. We want to help people spend it.’”

Fisher said this opportunity opens the door to more grant programs that are available by being on the radar of Empire State Development. The application period end December 3rd.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.