Niagara Gazette — A group of developers investing in the 400 block of Third Street are getting a boost from the city.
NFC Development Corp., the city’s nonprofit lending arm, voted to approve $80,000 as part of four separate grants for projects in the business district.
Seth Piccirillo, the director of the city’s Community Development department, gave a presentation in support of the grants before the vote, saying the grants — which are funded through casino revenues — will leverage a total of $1.7 million in investment with the developers having already spent more than $800,000 to purchase the buildings and plans for more than $900,000 in renovations and improvements.
“When you talk about actually being able to transform an entire city block in one construction season with one series of projects, that’s not an overstatement,” Piccirillo said.
The developers all own property in the city and have experience with renovations, he added.
“Each developer we have in front of you has a proven track record,” Piccirillo said.
The approved funds include;
• A $40,000 grant for the renovation of four apartments at 460 Third St. owned by Craig Avery and John Giusiana through the agency’s Rental Rehab Program. Avery and Giusiana have also applied for funding to repair the outside of the building through a facade program administered by the city’s Community Development department funded by a state grant awarded last year. The total projected cost of the renovations is $125,000
• A $20,000 grant for improvements at a pair of apartments above the former Unc’s bar building located at 228 Ferry Ave. at the corner of Third Street. The rental rehab grant was awarded to building owner Paul Stephen. The total projected cost of renovations is $41,000.
• A $10,000 Micro Enterprise Grant was awarded to building owner Michael Lewis for building renovations and system upgrades at 444 Third St.
• A second $10,000 Micro Enterprise Grant was awarded to Lewis and his business partners Joseph Hotchkiss and Kyle Bajor who plan to open a coffee shop in the building that Lewis is renovating. Lewis, who is also seeking a $100,000 grant from the state’s local economic development arm USA Niagara Development Corp., plans to spend a total of $280,000 on building repairs and start up costs for the coffee shop.