WATERLOO — It’s been a long time since there’s been a hotel downtown.
Long-time residents may remember the Brunswick Hotel at the corner of Virginia and East William Streets. Or even the Franklin Hotel a few blocks south of downtown on Washington Street. The Brunswick burned down in the 1950s. The Franklin burned down in the 1980s.
Now a downtown waterfront economic market study will identify opportunities for revitalizing a downtown that has declining retail, deteriorating storefronts and numerous vacancies. That study will include whether it would be feasible to try to lure a small hotel downtown, with the new del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre bringing more visitors to the area.
The Village Board conducted a public hearing and received an update on the market study and other grant programs Monday night.
A first draft of the study has been completed, paid for by a $50,000 Small Cities Community Development Block Grant obtained in 2016. The study documents existing economic conditions, researches demographic and economic trends, identifies target markets and project trends, details customer profiles and preferences, estimates market supply and market demand and determines downtown’s share of the demand.
It will be discussed with possible development partners Thursday. A site for the hotel mentioned Monday was the former Moore’s Furniture Store building on Washington Street.
Mayor Ted Young also said the former bowling alley, later a bar called The Fountain Club, on Virginia Street downtown will be torn down in July.
“We looked into saving the brick facade in front, but it was not feasible and too costly after serious review,’’ Young said.
He said some of the bricks will be saved so they could be used to match a similar facade for a future development on that site. The property is owned by the Land Bank of the Finger Lakes, sponsored by Seneca County. It has been vacant for years and used for storage.
In other downtown news before the board:
GRANTS AWARDED: The village was awarded $200,000 in CDBG funds in 2016 to establish a pool of funds for microenterprise businesses that will employ five or fewer people, have low- to moderate-income owners and a majority of the jobs created would go to low- to moderate-income people.
The board conducted a public hearing Monday on a proposal to award MAP grants to six businesses. They are Shear Bliss Salon on Virginia Street, $20,000; Miss V’s Bar & Restaurant on East Main Street, $35,000; Natural Solutions Acupuncture, East Main Street, $20,000; Corner Deli & Bakery, corner of East Main and Virginia, $35,000, Coach’s Diner, West Main Street, $35,000 and Uproar Gaming on West Main Street, the former Tally-Ho Clothing Store, $20,000.
The grants will be disbursed by December. The business owners will put in $18,470 of their money toward the improvements.
RENOVATIONS BEGUN: The village has received a six-month extension to use a CDBG grant to Lee Bieber, owner of 3 & 5 W. Main St., to do extensive street-level and upper-floor renovations for commercial space and residential units.
APPRECIATION: Young said the board will express its appreciation to the owners of Calabrese Cleaners on Virginia Street. The downtown business has operated as a dry cleaning business for some 90 years and the owners have announced they are retiring and the business will close June 29 and be for sale.
In other action, the board received no comments at a public hearing on using $640,000 in CDBG funds to help update and expand the former Summit Milk Products operations at 61 Swift St. The new owner, Deep Dairy Products LLC, is using the money to upgrade its dairy processing line, build coolers and incubators, store ingredients, purchase packaging equipment and purchase storage freezers for its specialty milk products, geared to the Indian and Pakistani ethnic market on the East Coast.
There were also no comments on the village’s plan to use $$500,000 in 2016 CDBG funds to help low- to moderate-income homeowners rehabilitate their owner-occupied homes. The maximum rehabilitation grant is $30,000 and the deferred payment loan will not have to be repaid if the owner resides in the home for five years after its rehabilitation.
Village officials hope to rehabilitate up to 15 homes through the program.