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State grants totaling $7.65 million target blighted corner of downtown Lyons

The funding was announced Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul as part of more than $112.9 million awarded to 70 projects through the Restore New York Communities Initiative, which supports efforts to remove blight, reinvigorate downtowns and generate economic opportunity in communities statewide. It is administered by Empire State Development.

According to Hochul, the Canal Street project includes demolition, “deconstruction,” reconstruction and rehabilitation of properties totaling 67,124 total square feet, with plans to create 37 residential units that include 25 affordable housing units.

In tandem with that project, the state awarded the Wayne County Land Bank, which is partnering with Lyons on the project, $1 million. That money is earmarked for the acquisition of four dilapidated Canal Street properties and for their demolition, if deemed the best option, Land Bank Director Mark Humbert said.

Brady, who got the call that the town had received the funding Monday morning, said it’s a big win for efforts to revive downtown Lyons.

“It’s a happy day for me,” Brady said. “We worked hard to get the grant.” Humbert agreed. “It’s a huge thing for Lyons and Wayne County,” he said. “It’s significant funding, and it’s going to give us an opportunity to transform that whole neighborhood in Lyons.”

Two of the buildings targeted are at the end of Canal Street where a building collapsed two years ago and ultimately was removed. The two remaining structures aren’t in much better shape, Brady noted. Another building included in the funding is on the other side of Canal Street, behind the former Gulf Station. The last is a former library building on Canal Street next to the Herman Brothers mattress store, he said.

Brady said it’s likely the four buildings will be razed and replaced with multi-story buildings that will have commercial use on first floors and housing on the upper floors. His hope is that the housing will be geared toward seniors, explaining there is not enough such housing in Lyons. His hope is in five years there will be significant revitalization of this corner of Lyons.

“This is a long-range urban renewal process,” he said. Humbert and Brady noted that the town has received a $20,000 grant for a study to determine the best options for the four buildings: demolition or rehabilitation.

Brady credited the work of Humbert, as well as MRB Group, which handled the grant application. Humbert Horn, Geneva’s former city manager, said Lyons is taking the right approach. “Lyons is following a model that’s shown sustained, repeatable success in innovative communities around the country — assess and understand your challenges, create an actionable strategy, and aggressively work the plan,” he said. “The town’s leadership has been committed to strong planning with a relentless focus on implementation. With that approach, this is sure to be just one of many success into the future.”

Humbert thanked Wayne County and state legislators and state economic development officials for their assistance, as well as Hochul. “This is really going to make a difference in Lyons,” he said. “These Restore New York grants will help to reimagine downtowns across our state and transform vacant, blighted and underutilized buildings into vibrant community anchors,” Hochul said in a press release.

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