Talking Leaves Books at Elmwood and Bidwell Parkway.

Board of Directors

John Kolaga

Wendy Sanders
Vice President

Betsy Bergen

Richard Ridenour

Ali Eagen
John Gillespie
Daniel Leonard
Francesca Maines
Charlie Ohl
Scot Sandel
Michaela Schmidbauer
Len Sciolino
Gerry Strickland
Andrew Whiteford
Theresa Woehrel

Executive Director
Justin Azzarella

Business Director
Becky Gandour

Assistant Director
Jeffery Amplement

Our Mission

The mission of The Elmwood Village Association is to work with businesses and residents to improve the quality of life for our entire community.

Our Vision

The Elmwood Village Association is a hub for community involvement that enhances the unique urban character of our community.  Our commercial district is economically healthy, vibrant, walkable, clean, safe and sustainable.  Residents, businesses, and visitors experience a welcoming attitude and distinct sense of community.

What is The Elmwood Village Association?

In 1994, The Elmwood Village Association was founded by a partnership of business owners and residents, received it's not-for-profit status, and has been serving citizens of Buffalo for over 15 years. The purpose of The Elmwood Village Association is to preserve and protect the unique and historic nature of Elmwood Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods by increasing civic involvement and encouraging neighborhood commercial revitalization. The long-term goals of the organization are: to strengthen the economic competitiveness of the neighborhood commercial district and to improve the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. The short-term goals are: to identify mechanisms to foster economic growth, to promote stabilization of the neighborhoods, and to work with governmental offices that can have a positive impact on the area.

In September of 2000, The Elmwood Village Association hired its first executive director. The hiring was made possible by a partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the City of Buffalo. The Executive Director of The Elmwood Village Association is charged with ensuring the continued revitalization of the Elmwood Village. This is being done by using a comprehensive approach to revitalization based on the Main Street Initiative model known as the four-point approach. The four-point approach involves setting up committees that look at urban design, promotion and marketing, economic restructuring, and organization.

What is the The Elmwood Village Association Main Street Program?

In January of 2001, The Elmwood Village Association was designated a LISC Neighborhood Main Street Initiative Network Member. The Center for Commercial Revitalization is a program of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) that began a six-site demonstration project in partnership with the National Main Street Center (NMSC) in 1996. The NMSI currently provides assistance to community-based organizations operating a �Main Street� program in 13 LISC cites and over 28 neighborhood business districts.

The Elmwood Village Association�s Main Street program partners with LISC, the City of Buffalo, merchants, and residents to implement its comprehensive, four-point, community driven approach to developing and improving the Elmwood Village�s commercial district. The Elmwood Village Association has been a leader in the continued revitalization of this dynamic commercial district. The focus is on Elmwood Avenue from Forest Avenue to Virginia Street and side streets such as Lexington Avenue and West Utica.

The Elmwood Village Association believes that through a strong commercial district come strong residential neighborhoods. The organization supports programs that strengthen home ownership and rehabilitation of historically significant homes such as the West Side Housing Initiative. Building code compliance, crime, safety, and cleanliness issues are constant concerns that The Elmwood Village Association addresses on a daily basis.

The Neighborhood Main Street Program

The Neighborhood Main Street Program centers on a four-point approach to commercial district revitalization focusing on design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring.

Enhancing the physical appearance of the Elmwood Village commercial district by rehabilitating historic buildings, encouraging supportive new construction, developing design guidelines, improving and greening the streetscape, and long-term planning.

Building consensus and cooperation among the many groups and individuals who have a role in the revitalization process.

Marketing the unique commercial district�s assets to customers, new businesses, local residents and visitors, and creating exciting special events throughout the community that bring families and friends together.

Economic Restructuring
Strengthening the commercial district�s existing businesses while finding ways to expand it to meet the needs of local residents and visitors.

Eight Guiding Principles

Along with the Neighborhood Main Street�s four-point approach, there are eight guiding principles that are necessary to make the program work.

A single project cannot revitalize a neighborhood business district. An ongoing series of initiatives is vital to build community support and create lasting progress.

Small projects make a big difference. They demonstrate that �things are happening� on Main Street and hone the skills and confidence the program will need to tackle problems that are more complex.

Only local leadership can initiate long-term success by fostering and demonstrating community involvement and commitment to the revitalization effort

Public/Private Partnership
Every local Main Street program needs the support of both the public and private sectors. For an effective partnership, each must recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the other.

Identifying and Capitalizing on Existing Assets
Each neighborhood business district has unique, existing assets that provide the solid foundation for a successful Main Street initiative.

From storefront design to promotional campaigns to special events, quality must be the main goal.

Changing community attitudes and habits is essential to bring about a commercial district renaissance. A carefully planned Main Street program will help shift public perceptions and practices to support and sustain the revitalization process.

Frequent, visible changes in the look and activities of the neighborhood business district will reinforce the perception of positive change. Small, but dramatic improvements early in the process will remind the community that the revitalization effort is under way.


Note: Information Provided by LISC Neighborhood Main Street Initiative

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