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## OLEAN Downtown Revitalization Initiative Provides Much-Needed Aid to Business District Properties


In the wake of the global pandemic, the city of Olean has made significant progress in revitalizing its business district. Thanks to the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), nearly two dozen commercial properties in the city received crucial support. Managed by the Olean Business Development Corp (OBDC), the DRI’s façade improvement program provided financial assistance to building owners, resulting in a total reimbursement of $540,000. The program required owners to collectively spend $844,204 on repairs and covered up to 80% of the costs. However, building owners ended up spending approximately $135,000 more than what was initially required.

**Impact of the DRI**

The DRI proved to be a catalyst for the business district’s revitalization efforts. Not only did recipient property owners go above and beyond in their DRI-funded projects, but other building owners took it upon themselves to carry out their own renovations with great success. The aid provided through the DRI helped fund much-needed structural repairs alongside cosmetic improvements. For instance, a property owned by Dennis Wright required repointing work on its brick façade, which extended the lifespan of the structure.

**Extent of the Projects**

The DRI aid was primarily concentrated on certain blocks within the business district. Five projects were completed on the west side of North Union Street’s 100 block. Over half of the buildings along this block received assistance from the DRI, including the First National and former Siegel’s buildings. Furthermore, a total of 11 projects were completed in the first three blocks of North Union Street. Six projects were carried out between the 200 and 500 blocks of West State Street. Additionally, one project each was undertaken on four other streets within the area.

**Snapshot of the Projects**

Several commercial properties and nonprofits benefitted from the DRI aid. The list of projects included various businesses such as Armond’s Fashions, Singer, Christie’s Boutique, Southern Tier Health Care System, and Eade’s Wallpaper. Nonprofits like the Southern Tier Health Care System, Jamestown Community College, OBDC, and the Olean American Legion also utilized the funds for façade improvements. The diversity of projects reflects the DRI’s commitment to revitalizing both the business sector and the community as a whole.

**Positive Feedback from Recipients**

Property owners who received assistance from the DRI expressed their gratitude for the program’s impact. For instance, Adam Jester, owner of a property on N. Union Street, emphasized how the inspections carried out for the project led to additional repairs that greatly benefited the building’s overall condition. By completing all the necessary repairs at once, he highlighted the efficiency and effectiveness of the DRI program, especially in light of the challenges posed by the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and construction industry difficulties.

Jim Finch, owner of Acme Business, lauded the critical role played by the DRI in enabling his business to remain in its West State Street location. While acknowledging the cost-effectiveness of constructing a new building, Finch emphasized the historical significance of the existing structure and how the DRI aid allowed for necessary updates to the building’s façade. The subsequent repair work extended beyond just the front of the building and included the sides as well as a 30-year-old roof. Finch expressed satisfaction with the project’s outcome, which greatly contributed to the overall enhancement of the West State Street Corridor in Downtown Olean.

**Successful Collaboration and Assistance**

Recipients of the DRI aid were full of praise for the assistance provided by various organizations throughout the process. Amy Sherburne of Eade’s Wallpaper specifically commended the comprehensive support offered by the OBDC, from the initial intake process to the reimbursement stage after the completion of the work. The collaboration between the OBDC, the City of Olean, and other partners involved demonstrated their dedication and effectiveness in navigating the challenges posed by the DRI program.


The Downtown Revitalization Initiative in Olean has provided a much-needed boost to the city’s business district. The financial aid offered by the DRI under its façade improvement program has not only supported building owners in carrying out necessary repairs but has also inspired other property owners to invest in their own renovations. The revitalization efforts have encompassed both private businesses and nonprofits, further contributing to the overall improvement of Downtown Olean. The success of the DRI program is a testament to effective collaboration and the willingness to adapt in the face of unforeseen challenges. The AI legalese decoder can assist in simplifying and understanding the technical terms and legal aspects associated with implementing such revitalization initiatives, making it even more accessible to property owners and stakeholders.

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