Those looking for signs of change on Pine Avenue need to simply take a drive down the busy street.

The Pine Avenue Redevelopment Project has purchased several banner-style signs they have placed on businesses in the process of redevelopment, just to be sure people are aware that good things are happening one of the city's most popular arterials.

"It may not be massive or major but we definitely have some good projects going on on Pine Avenue," said Sylvia Virtuoso, owner of Guido's Upholstering and secretary to the business association.

"The first banner went up at Horizons at 24th and Pine, the old Fichte building, where they’re doing a major expansion," she said. "And then Latina's is going through renovations inside and out."

Courtney Marazzo, a spokesperson at Latina Importing Co. said that the grocery store has been painted on the outside and will soon have new planters and awnings. Inside, new floors have been installed, the butcher cases have been moved into the front of the 65-year-old store, and the interior is being repainted. "It will be the same experience, only updated," she said. 

The idea for the signs, which are actually banners hung on several projects including Latina's, came from Dr. Mark DelMonte, a chiropractor on the street who himself recently added a second lawyers suite to his office building, and who believes there's more going on to improve the street than people might be be aware of. 

"It looks like Pine Avenue is on a decline, but in reality there are a lot of people investing a lot of time and a lot of money in redeveloping," he said. 

Another expansion that has a Pine Avenue Redevelopment sign on it is at 27th Street and Pine Avenue, Virtuoso noted, where the former restaurant called Shorty's is being merged with three other sites to create a large retail space by the owner of Kings and Queens on Pine Avenue.

"That is a major reinvestment, and the whole new front looks beautiful," Virtuoso said.

Another business she said that also recently expanded was Diamond's, a retail store on 22nd Street and Pine Avenue, which added 2,500 square feet of retail space.

In addition, the Pine Avenue Redevelopment Project will be working with Niagara University's South Street Initiative and the Cornell Cooperative Extension to fortify the the City Market, including the farmer's market that takes place there.  "We have some great restaurants in the market and we need to have that more visible," Virtuoso said.

The association is also working with the city's Zoom Team on spring cleanup. The Zoom Team is comprised of representatives from many departments in the city, including public works, zoning and community development, who walk through the neighborhood about once a week and work on solving the problems and issues that contribute to blight, such as trash or zoning and security infractions. 

It's a work in progress, but signs point to good thing happening, especially when people work together.

"It's going to take a community, but we're capable of change," said Latina's Courtney Marazzo of Pine Avenue. "I really do think it can be turned around with enough support."

For more information on the Pine Avenue Redevelopment Project, visit online at PineNF.org.

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