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DeJoy updates Dunkirk DRI projects

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford This former bank, which was most recently a First Niagara branch, may become a mixed-use apartment complex.

A state-funded project to renovate Dunkirk’s former Lake Shore Savings Bank on Central Avenue is coming together quickly. The city’s Common Council could be ready to vote on a sales agreement soon.

That was the most notable item in city Planning and Development Director Vince DeJoy’s recent update on the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

DeJoy told the Common Council’s Economic Development Committee that the bank building’s renovation is “moving probably at the fastest pace” of the Dunkirk DRI projects announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

He said a developer has brought forth a purchase agreement and “it’s in the attorney’s hands.” An environmental site assessment is “being wrapped up” and has found no problems so far, DeJoy added.

The DRI is offering $900,000 for the project, which will renovate the building to house retail space and market-rate apartments.

DeJoy also offered updates on the eight other projects announced by Hochul.

— The Macaroni Company Building at the corner of Lake Shore Drive and Washington Ave. is slated to get medical offices and apartments. “That one is moving forward,” said DeJoy. He said he had just fielded a call about old tanks in the basement, related to an environmental assessment.

— Developers of apartment complexes on East Fourth Street and Washington Avenue are “preparing final application to the state” for tax credits, DeJoy said. It’s “yet to be determined” who will be operating a daycare slated for the East Fourth Street complex.

— The Graf Building on Central Avenue is supposed to be made a Jamestown Community College workforce development center, and DeJoy said he just received an invitation for a meeting between college officials and a developer. Applications for additional grants to cover construction costs and equipment are underway.

— DeJoy only briefly mentioned the project to renovate the former Adams Art Gallery on Central Avenue. He noted the effort has been rebranded “Central Hall.”

The long-running initiative was called “The Adams” but fell apart during the COVID-19 pandemic. A fresh fundraising campaign has begun for the old building, which is in substandard condition and needs a new roof. Planners want to create a space for arts, events and youth programming.

— The Clarion Hotel got $1 million for renovations in the DRI, and DeJoy said that while its owners requested more, “$1 million is still a significant, sizable investment.”

He said the owners will use the money on the rooms, and exterior work including a new facade.

— DeJoy said “we’re kind of starting the process” on two projects to expand docks at Dunkirk’s city marina and the Chadwick Bay Marina just to the west.

— Hochul’s DRI announcement established a Downtown Dunkirk Small Project Fund. “We don’t have all the details on that,” DeJoy said. However, he said such funds are usually “for small business facades, new equipment, and any capital needed for startups.”

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