Dunkirk’s public-private partnership gets $1M state boost

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino The building at 23-25 Lake Shore Drive received $1 million for rehabilitation from the state.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday that Dunkirk will receive $1 million from the Restore New York Communities Initiative. Restore New York supports municipal revitalization efforts by awarding funding for projects that will reinvigorate downtowns and generate new economic opportunity in communities from Western New York to Long Island. Nearly $81 million was awarded to 71 municipalities statewide.

“Downtown communities are vital to keeping our economies thriving and to attracting businesses and families to put down their roots in New York,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The Restore New York Communities Initiative recognizes communities teaming with potential and invests in their transformation and their future, and turns them into neighborhoods New Yorkers are proud to call home.”

Round 5 of the Restore New York Communities Initiative was enacted in the Fiscal Year 2017 State Budget, and Empire State Development was designated to implement the program. Cities, towns and villages were all eligible to apply for support for projects that include demolition, deconstruction, rehabilitation or reconstruction of vacant, abandoned, condemned and surplus properties. Projects located in economically distressed communities were emphasized and encouraged.The Dunkirk project will include the rehabilitation of a vacant four-story building at 23-25 Lake Shore Drive in the city’s downtown harborfront district into a mixed-use facility featuring retail and/or restaurant space and market-rate loft apartments.

Dunkirk Development Director Rebecca Yanus said this announcement was exciting news.

“It’s all about downtown revitalization and working one building, one project at a time to revitalize downtown Dunkirk, so we’re really excited to move in that positive direction. Private investment helps drive downtown economies and we’re excited to be working on this public/private partnership to really restore and bring back a great building in downtown Dunkirk instead of seeing it torn down like many of the buildings we’ve seen in the past. We’re ecstatic to be awarded the funding and we thank the governor, Restore New York and Empire State Development and look forward to working on this project with the new owners of the building,” she said.

The building was recently bought by Dr. Troy Sasse and his wife Jolie Mandell for use in part for their successful primary care and physical therapy office, which they wish to move from Angola closer to their new home in Dunkirk. A variance for parking was recently approved by the zoning board.

Yanus said there is no information yet on a timeline for the building’s rehabilitation. She added the funds will be distributed to the city for use on this specific project in a very similar process to how the Chadwick Bay Lofts building was rehabilitated.

Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas thanked Cuomo, state elected officials and the development department for helping to bring this program in to benefit the city.

“I am grateful to Governor Cuomo and our state elected officials for recognizing that Dunkirk is booming right now and we are revitalizing our waterfront and our downtown district. This is part of that process. We’ll be working with the owners of the building. This announcement is the beginning stages, but again it’s very good for the city of Dunkirk because it will bring new development, again, to our waterfront area,” he said. “I thank our development department under the direction of our Development Director Rebecca Yanus for her hard work, time and effort. We finally see it paying off. Again, I was out in Albany a couple weeks ago and had a chance to speak with the governor and other people. This, again, is the result of being connected. The city of Dunkirk is being paid attention to statewide and we are up and coming. We are definitely on the move in the right direction.”

Also receiving funds in Western New York were the city of Jamestown, which received $1 million for the Jamestown Vikings Lodge at 318 Washington St.; nearly $4 million for two city of Buffalo projects; $2 million for six building demolitions and reconstructions in the city of Niagara Falls; $500,000 for a building rehab in the city of Lockport; $161,000 for a demolition in the city of North Tonawanda; and $100,000 for two building rehabs in the village of Blasdell.

State Senator Catharine Young said, “Behind the aging facades and vacant storefronts of many downtown buildings are architectural and historical gems with the potential to revitalize city neighborhoods and boost further investment and growth. That goal moved forward today with the exciting announcement that $8.8 million in Restore NY funding is on its way to Western New York to support seven projects, including two in my district which I was proud to support. The Vikings Temple Lodge in Jamestown and a Lake Shore Drive property in Dunkirk will each receive $1 million in restoration monies, investments that are poised to complement major redevelopment ongoing in these areas and breathe new life into these valuable properties. I thank Governor Cuomo for his support and look forward to the bright future ahead for these communities.”