Back in 2015, we were desperately posting that 65 Grant Street needed to be saved. The building was literally falling apart, and the future of the structure looked bleak.
Then, out of the blue, Paul Aswad purchased the building, with some help from architect Kathleen Kinan (see here), and today 65 Grant Street is quickly becoming an anchor building on the street.
Adding to the excitement, a number of flags have been installed on the facade of the building, which certainly perks the place up. The flags also go a long way towards showing pride, while signaling to residents that the building is now a viable component of the street, instead of being a hazardous eyesore.
Now Assemblyman Sean Ryan has his offices in the building, which has contributed to a number of neighborhood advancements. Ryan has been keeping his eyes on Grant Street, and is being proactive on a number of fronts. Recently he got the City to issue a violation on Rainbow Clothing (a national chain), which forced their hand to paint their building. And guess what? It got done! Ryan even told Rainbow that they had to clean up the mess that was left after the paint work was completed.
Ryan has also been proactive with street cleanings. In fact, YouthBuild will be conducting another clean up on Friday morning. Ryan says that the City is now scheduling a street cleaner to clean Grant Street every Thursday. Grant Street… clean? For years we’ve been asking for this sort of initiative.
I asked Ryan about his presence on Grant Street, and how it has helped to change local attitudes. “It’s very intentional,” he says. “I’m here, and the business owners are going to hold me accountable. This is a form of economic development. I’m paying attention to this neighborhood, and I’m going to be proactive. You can’t just leave a business (or a street) in disrepair, and still be a good neighbor. We know that Rainbow is an important store for people who live here – a lot of people don’t have cars, so they need to be able to walk to get their clothing. I just want the business owners to know that we’re paying attention.”
Moving forward, Ryan is planning on issuing an infrastructure study for Grant Street. From there he will be seeking funding to fix some of the problems (park benches, trees, code violations, etc.), once a plan is in place. He says that over the years there has been systematic disinvestment in Grant Street. Now is the time to capitalize on the momentum that has been building, whether that’s getting property owners to straighten up their acts, or working with the businesses to shovel the sidewalks in the wintertime.
As for 65 Grant Street, the rest of the building components are coming together quite nicely. Two 1250 sq.’ storefronts are now for rent – they are being built out right now. Plus, the apartment units upstairs are being refurbished ($800 a month). To learn more about the storefronts and the apartment units, you can call 716-283-9333.
Hopefully we will see the corner storefronts snapped up soon, by businesses that will contribute additional energy and resources to the street.
What do you want to see on Grant Street?