Revamping B'ville through county grant program

A soft caramel-colored building houses Keely's Bridal and Formal Wear at 4 W. Genesee St., the corner of the main intersection in downtown Baldwinsville. Large windows bare ovals with the store's name within above block ivory panels with burgundy trim that contrast with a gray sidewalk. Like many of the recently renovated downtown buildings, there is a peak above the doorway with the shop's name scrolled in ivory over a burgundy background.

This ornate architecture is a far cry from the plain brick facade that existed before the building was renovated about four years ago.

"I receive positive feedback all the time," said Dan Coholan, owner of the building. "Keely's, compared to what it was, it's beautiful."

The renovation work was possible because of the Onondaga County Community Development's Commercial Rehab Program. Through this federally funded program, which uses money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, target areas within the county have been able to obtain funds to better their businesses.

Toni Kleist, an architect for the Onondaga County government, believes the program has had a huge impact on the village of Baldwinsville.

"I think it's helped the community get back on its feet," she said. "Overall, it improves the look of the area and businesses, and it has brought more interest to the area."

Coholan agrees it's a great resource for the village.

"I would definitely recommend this grant to other businesses," said Coholan, who used to the grant to improve some of his properties including Keely's Bridal and Formal Wear, Connections Caf (c) and Territory Mortgage.

The program is a matching grant program, for amounts up to $15,000 and the grant is for exterior improvement only, Kleist said. Community businesses also must be in target areas, which are determined from census information and split up by income level. A target area is one with a low-income level. According to Kleist, Onondaga County has eight or nine including Baldwinsville, Camillus, North Syracuse, Liverpool, East Syracuse, Brewerton, Mattydale and Lyncourt.

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