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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 Massena.

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

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

“(Mr.) 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 utilizing the grant money. The grant stipulates business owners must match whatever grant funding they receive for facade improvements to their buildings. 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 different downtown buildings, have signed letters of commitment indicating they will participate in the program if Massena receives the funds.

Mr. Ralston said Mr. Hauser will have to review hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages of reports on how these business owners plan to utilize 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 of 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 one investor, Mr. Hauser said. The approximately $31,000 contract would retain Mr. Hauser for another year on that project.

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

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

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

“Mr. Hauser will be meeting with local business leaders and putting together an actual strategic plan,” board Chairman Daniel S. Pease said. “(This includes) identifying investors, identifying buildings and identifying the rehabilitation needs of the building.”

The next phase of Mr. Hauser’s role in the LLC project will begin once the BDC approves his contract. BDC board members hope Mr. Hauser will be able to find investors for the LLC during that time.

“We’re hoping that through meetings and public education that we get some actual investors for the LLC,” Mr. Pease said. “(We hope) that not only will this LLC form, but that people will join it and invest in it, and choose a building and a business for that building, and renovate that building to get that business open.”

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