Almost $700,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to make empty buildings useful in Lewis County

May 20—LOWVILLE — A total of about $691,000 in grants has been awarded to nine property owners to make improvements in old buildings around Lewis County.

The majority of the recipients of Lewis County Development Corporation's Vacant Property Revitalization grants will use the funds to transform the upper floors or sections of their buildings into short- or long-term rental apartments. — 5421 Shady Ave — $71,730

Owners: Meleshchuk Properties/crumbs! Bake Shop — 7619-23 N. State Street — $100,000

Owner: Brooke Fullmer (Dollar General) — 5406-5424 Shady Ave. — $100,000

Owners: Rhonda A. and Chase J. Vanucchi, Kellogg Block Building — 3336 Lincoln Street, Port Leyden (former Port Leyden school) — $100,000

Owner: Mark and Kimberly Lemieux, Port Leyden Portal; renovate section of second floor into short- and long-term rental apartments. — 4173 West Road, Turin — $20,000

Owner: Nick Mir/ Eastern Resort Management LLC, Snow Ridge Ski Resort, — 1147 State Route 26, West Leyden — $50,000

Owners: Charles M., Irene R., Dean, Guy C. Case; second floor into apartments and new commercial space on the first floor.

Grants were also given to some companies working to start or expand their businesses. — 6912 Bardo Road, town of Lowville (former restaurant) — $100,000

Owner: Daniel Myers, Double Play Community Center; transition the space into a fitness center, class studios and community group spaces. — 3823 Marmon Road, town of Lyonsdale (former ReEnergy site) — $100,000

Owner: Rezc Abdelrahmen, McRez Packing International LLC; to turn a former storage building into a job-creating USDA-certified meat processing facility. — 9801 Bridge St., Croghan — $49,235

Owner: Bob Lyndaker, Mickey Lehman, Dave Moore, Bob Chamberlain, Grand Slam Safety LLC; turn a former bus garage into more manufacturing space, creating more jobs.

At a bare minimum, projects had to make use of currently vacant buildings or floors in buildings. Those involving tearing down an existing structure were not eligible.

Beyond that, Lewis County Development Corporation board scored each proposal on a number of criteria to determine which of the 13 applicants would be funded.

Criteria included financial feasibility; reducing blight in downtown areas; project resulting in new business space or places to live; and level of benefit to the community, for example, increasing the tax base through improved property value, creating jobs or developing a new business.

The grants could only cover up to 50% of the total project cost and will either be reimbursed when all work on the project is complete or in part when certain benchmarks — completed lead and asbestos assessments or the completed mitigation or removal of lead and asbestos, for example — have been met in order to "keep the funds flowing" for the property owners according to Naturally Lewis Finance Director Cheyenne Steria.

The grant program is funded through $1 million of the American Rescue Plan money set aside by the county. Mrs. Steria said there will be a second round of the program and $50,000 was set aside for the program's administration and implementation.

Although the county Development Corporation would like to see the projects completed within a year, Mrs. Steria said, "there isn't a hard timeframe... some of the larger projects like the Kellogg Building and the Dollar General building, will take longer."