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Long IslandTowns

Patchogue wins state grant for downtown face-lift

Dennis Smith, executive director of Patchogue Business Improvement

Dennis Smith, executive director of Patchogue Business Improvement District, stands by the vacant NAPA Auto Parts building, just one of the targeted four downtown buildings to revamp with grant money received from the Regional Economic Development Council. (Jan. 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

New York State has awarded the Patchogue Business Improvement District a $200,000 matching grant to beautify four downtown businesses.

The grant was part of $59.7 million the state Regional Economic Development Council awarded to businesses, municipalities and nonprofits in Nassau and Suffolk counties. It is the third grant the village has won to revitalize business areas since 2008, totaling nearly $1 million.

"We have a plan and good track record, and that's why we keep getting grants," said Dennis Smith, executive director of the improvement district.

Smith attributes the success rate to the district's strategic targeting of businesses and their owners, inviting them to match monies from the village.

Before the village board of trustees decides to apply for the matching grant, he said the district sometimes encourages business owners to leverage the grant for a small business loan to maximize the beautification.

"It makes such a difference because you're making the money work for you," said Smith, adding the village applies for the grant every two years. "We take our time and do it right. It's a lot of work, but we give it time and attention."

Smith has targeted four downtown buildings to revamp with the latest crop of grant money, including a vacant structure at 10 South Ocean Ave., near the heart of downtown.

Others include the vacant NAPA Auto Parts building, the 60-year-old Burlington Coat Factory building, which has undergone few changes, and the Carvel Ice Cream building.

"Grants such as this have transformed Main Street, revitalizing downtown," said village Mayor Paul Pontieri.

Many of the buildings being improved will have a design similar to TRITEC, a $100 million downtown development that broke ground in June, he added.

The village applied for the grant in July after the board of trustees passed a resolution.

The New York Main Street grant from the state Office of Homes and Community Renewal includes programs geared toward main streets, community and economic development, job creation and downtown revitalization.

In 2008, the business improvement district was granted a $200,000 Main Street grant, leading to seven improvement projects. They included work on South Ocean Avenue, the Four Corners and East Main Street, officials said.

Two years later, the district received a $500,000 grant for improvements to buildings on the west side of South Ocean Avenue, from Church to Main streets, and along the south side of West Main Street to River Avenue, officials said.

Smith said the $500,000 grant wasn't available this year and that the $200,000 grant was awarded Dec. 19.

Smith said many downtown businesses are allowed to apply for beautification and that the list of applications filed will be narrowed down in early April. By summer, the grant funds will be used to start beautifying buildings.

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