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BDC signs contract to retain Massena redevelopment consultant

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MASSENA — Economic development officials plan to stick with their architect consultant throughout their efforts to revitalize downtown.

The Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena board voted at its last meeting to sign an approximately $18,000 contract to retain Rick Hauser of In Site: Architecture as the consultant for implementation of a $250,0000 state grant to help improve downtown businesses’ facades.

Board member Larry Ralston could not provide the contract’s length, but said he expects the BDC to retain Mr. Hauser throughout the grant process, which has a deadline of two years.

“Hauser has had experience doing this for businesses in Western New York. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s the man to do it,” Mr. Ralston said. “(And) with him being on for the entire project, we’ll have stability, consistency and we’ll all be on the same wavelength.”

Mr. Hauser will assist the BDC’s effort by processing and reviewing forms that must be completed by business owners interested in using the grant money. The grant stipulates business owners must match whatever grant funding they receive for facade improvements. Former economic developer Jason A. Clark has said downtown Massena could see as much as $2 million in improvements between the grant money and owner contributions.

Thirty-five business owners, occupying 19 downtown buildings, have signed letters of commitment indicating they will participate in the program if Massena receives the money.

Mr. Ralston said Mr. Hauser will have to review hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages of reports on how these business owners plan to use the grant money. The BDC “would be overwhelmed without him,” Mr. Ralston said.

The board also approved a motion to sign an additional contract at its next meeting to hire Mr. Hauser for the next phase in efforts to develop a Main Street LLC, a group of local investors who pool their resources to revitalize downtown buildings.

Bringing a group together minimizes the risk for any investor, Mr. Hauser said. The approximately $31,000 contract would retain Mr. Hauser for another year.

“We haven’t signed it, but we’ve approved it,” Mr. Hauser said.

At a previous meeting, BDC board members discussed two possible locations for the proposed Main Street LLC: the Sunrise Mall at 48-50 Main St. and the Massena School of Business near Main and Andrews streets.

The project’s next phase will involve seeking investors and identifying the pros and cons of potential LLC sites.

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