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$326,196 Grant Awarded to UDCDA Will Enhance Historic Main Street Corridor in University Heights

University District Community Development Association (UDCDA) Executive Director Roseann Scibilia was joined by Senator Tim Kennedy, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, University District Councilman Rasheed Wyatt, and additional community leaders to announce that New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) has awarded the UDCDA $326,196 in New York Main Street grant program funding.

The grant will be used to assist Main Street property owners with the renovation and rehabilitation of storefronts, facades, interior commercial spaces, and residential units along the historic Main Street corridor.

In 2018 the UDCDA was awarded a NY Main Street Technical Assistance grant to develop design guidelines for Main Street.

The grant will focus on a six block area between Englewood Ave and Highgate Ave, the walkable and transit-accessible heart of the University Heights neighborhood. In the coming months, the UDCDA will begin working with local property owners to award matching funds to be used toward revitalizing the stretch of Main Street’s historic building stock. Property owners are eligible for up to $50,000 in assistance on a reimbursement basis and are required to contribute a match of 25% of the total project cost.

The capital grant builds on a New York Main Street Technical Assistance grant awarded to the UDCDA in 2018 that allowed the organization to work with Clinton Brown Company Architecture to develop design guidelines for a 9-block area of Main Street and work directly with property owners to develop rehabilitation concept designs.

Eligible property owners are encouraged to attend an upcoming informational session being held on Tuesday, February 11th at 9AM at the University Heights CoLab (9 W. Northrup Place).

The UDCDA received a $125,000 grant in 2016, which was critical to the restoration of a Main Street landmark, Parkside Candy, including its signature neon sign.

“Through proactive community planning, technical assistance, and targeted investments, the UDCDA has supported projects that have restored historic landmarks, breathed new life into vacant buildings, and engaged community volunteers in district-wide beautification efforts. Public funds, like those available through the New York Main Street program, are a critical tool in unlocking the potential of the Main Street business corridor to not only serve as a vibrant and vital heart of the community for its residents, but also to attract visitors and customers from across the region” said Roseann Scibilia, Executive Director of the UDCDA.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said,“Through the New York Main Street program, HCR helps small businesses and property owners make improvements that beautify downtowns and grow the local economy. This $326,196 award to UDCDA is part of Governor Cuomo’s strategy to build a better Buffalo by investing in mixed-use development along commercial corridors to create active, walkable neighborhoods where New Yorkers want to live and work. The enhancements along this important and historic Main Street in the University District will serve as a catalyst for additional private investment. When Main Street thrives, Buffalo gets stronger.”  

“Buffalo’s historic Main Street corridor is home to a vibrant and close-knit community,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “This grant will improve this neighborhood even more, building on its unique strengths, including its light rail system. I worked hard last year to secure a $100 million commitment for improvements to Metro Rail, and it is heartening to see new investments now come into one of the many communities Metro Rail serves. Congratulations to the UDCDA on this well-deserved grant. I look forward to seeing their successes in the near future.”

“Congratulations to UDCDA on securing a $326,000 Main Street Grant to help residents and property owners create attractive storefronts, facades, and well-maintained commercial properties,“ said Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.  “UDCDA has worked very hard to steadily transform the University Heights’ vibrant Main Street corridor into one of the city’s premier walkable neighborhoods.”

“This grant supports the ongoing revitalization of the Main Street corridor and complements my Administration’s continuing effort to spur improvements in every section of our City,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “Through the Better Buffalo Fund, my Administration has helped fuel successful projects in the University District including Parkside Candy, the University Lofts and aid business owners on Bailey Avenue with building renovations.”

Council Member Wyatt shared “Securing grant funds for Main Street is another huge plus for the University District. It is a tremendous opportunity for the businesses in the University Heights historical corridor as it continues to grow into an exciting destination.”

The University District Community Development has a strong track record of administering state-funded grants. They included $150,000 for the revitalization and reopening of the historic Varsity Theatre on Bailey Avenue, $300,000 in Better Buffalo Funding for commercial storefront improvements on Bailey Avenue, $125,000 for the renovation of Parkside Candy on Main Street, and $20,000 for a Main Street planning grant.

The University District Community Development Association (UDCDA) is a full service agency offering a wide array of youth and senior service programs to residents out of the Gloria J. Parks Community Center located at 3242 Main Street while also spearheading community and housing development projects throughout Buffalo’s Northeast from its offices located at 995 Kensington Avenue. We work with residents, block clubs, community nonprofits, educational institutions, and local government to invest resources in the people and places that matter most to our community.


Lead photo credit: Douglas Levere | University at Buffalo

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Written by Darren Cotton

Darren Cotton

Darren Cotton works as Director of Community Development & Planning at the University District Community Development Association (UDCDA). His work primarily focuses on housing rehabilitation, small business development, and community capacity building in the neighborhood's surrounding the University at Buffalo's South Campus. Prior to this, Darren served as an Associate Planner at the UB Regional Institute working on a regional sustainability initiative, the remediation of industrial brownfields, and an overhaul of Buffalo's zoning code. As a graduate student at UB, Darren founded the University Heights Tool Library in response to his experience renting from an absentee landlord. With a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies and Linguistics and a Master's Degree in Urban Planning all from UB, Darren works to bridge the gap between research, policy, and grassroots activism and is a firm believer that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

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