Tonawanda News — That funding, about $400,000, is credited with updating several facades where Lou’s Diner and Partners in Art are located, but also more involved refurbishments like the Canalside Creamery and Yummy Thai.
“We hope to have the same impact, the same kind of catalyzing both for people and businesses to invest in the area,” Zimmerman said. “Whether it’s the business already there or maybe even a new business”
Mayor Rob Ortt said improving Oliver Street will not be a quick fix, but the funding would serve as a “first step” toward a reversal of what has been a downward economic spiral, with a long-term vision to turn the street into something resembling Buffalo’s Elmwood Village.
“There was a time when Oliver Street was the main business district,” Ortt said. “This is one step, but it’s an important step.”
Second Ward Alderwoman Donna Braun, who began her first term on the common council this year, said she has heard the rumblings of resident who live in her neighborhood for years.
“We’ve all seen it go down,” she said. “Part of my reason for running is trying to get the neighborhood back up to where it can be. Just look at Webster. Even if it’s little by little, it’s exciting to bring Oliver Street back.”
Ortt and Braun said they will begin reaching out to local business along Oliver Street in the coming weeks to gauge interest and share information about possible funding disbursements.
Zimmerman noted that it will be several more months before the grant money comes in to the LCDC, with plans to start work by the end of the summer.
“Downtown and Webster have been the focus for a long time,” he said. “We’ll continue to work there. But we feel there’s been a lot of success down there and its a good time to branch that success off to Oliver Street.”