“If you aren’t a city where people want to live, you aren’t a city where businesses want to invest.” Mayor Ron Littlefield, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Upper-floor Main Street residential restoration in Little Falls is flourishing. Beautiful historic architecture, center city convenience with easy access to shopping and restaurants, and a good commercial district investment climate are driving forces behind this renaissance. What a difference five years and a new anchor grocery store can make!
Many different investment strategies and business plans are moving forward as both natives and newcomers alike sense opportunity. Historic district tax credits provide additional incentive for newer developers to follow in the wake of longtime Main Street landlords like Bob “Moose” Kurzbach and Larry Peruzzi.
Little Falls native Mike Molinaro purchased his 80 West Main Street building in 2013, and with the help of a commercial-district grant, he has transformed his two-story structure into a first-floor Tang Soo Do of Central New York karate studio and a spacious second floor apartment. Molinaro is motivated both by a desire to expand the teaching influence of his karate master and by a sense of community “giveback.”
In 2012 Little Falls native Richard Ruggiero obtained the long-neglected 542-546 East Main Street building that once housed the venerable Kandyland ice cream parlor. The veteran restaurateur has transformed the ground floor into the Ruggiero Trattoria restaurant. Second-floor apartments are ready for occupancy and work will soon begin on the third floor.
Hudson Valley transplant David Herodes purchased his 576-580 East Main St. four-story building in 2010 and has renovated several upper-floor apartments with the help of a combination grant. He has two solid ground-floor tenants where Carpeneti’s Barber Shop was once located and will continue with additional upper-floor renovations over time.
In 2013 Philadelphia native and Preserve Our Past president David Dardzinski gained ownership of his four-story 582-586 East Main Street building where Goldstein’s Men’s Shop was once located. He lives with his family in a restored second-floor apartment and is hard at work restoring other upper-floor apartments. Ground-floor commercial development is also being planned.
Gavin Maloney was drawn to Little Falls by its physical beauty, historic architecture, and friendliness. Maloney purchased his three-story 600-08 East Main Street building in 2014. He has solid first-floor commercial tenants where Bride’s Cigar Store and poolroom once thrived, and is well along with quality second- and third-floor apartment restorations.
Main Street residential restoration has presented unique challenges to each of these developers: A common concern expressed is the lack of space for year-round tenant parking and most support alternate-side winter parking along Main St.
Main Street residential restoration is part of a broader struggle that Little Falls faces with deteriorated housing stock as we continue to seek a brighter future as a walkable and sustainable community.