When I first came to Holley six years ago, she lay dormant with many worn out buildings and abandoned storefronts. As she continued to sleep, many thought Holley’s days were numbered, failing to see the life and untapped potential that still resided within her. Slowly though… as Holley started to awaken it’s been heart-warming and inspiring to see her transformation — a transformation brought about a caring community of people who remembered her former beauty and still saw potential in her.
Her transformation started towards the end of 2010 with a team of Planning Board members and community representatives who worked with consultants in developing a Comprehensive Master Plan that defined a vision of Holley’s future. Soon after Sam’s Diner got a facelift. Then in February 2012, Jerome Pawlak opened a Save-A Lot grocery store after the community was without a grocery store for nearly six years. First Niagara Bank followed soon after investing in the community where they conducted their business. In May 2013, the Landmark Society of Western New York announced the Old Holley High School building made their “Five to Revive” list, saying that the building is an “irreplaceable historic resource.” In being named to the list, the Landmark Society of Western New York is now working collaboratively with owners, municipal officials, and developers to facilitate investment and foster rehabilitation of the site so that the building will once again play an active role in the community.
Holley’s transformation continues thanks to a $250,000 Main Street grant that the Village was awarded from the state back in December 2013, providing matching funds for building projects in the downtown area. As a result of this grant, work is now underway to improve several sites in the Public Square area. For instance… Dan and Monica Seeler are doing extensive work converting the first floor of the former Tagg’s Tavern into a steak and seafood restaurant, called the “Holley Falls Bar & Grill”, which is scheduled to open sometime this fall. Meanwhile the second floor is being converted into high end apartments. Then Jonathan’s Pastry Shop is getting a new façade and Lisa’s Dance Boutique is having the second-floor windows replaced and portions of the roof repointed. Other projects include VP Supply who is working on a vestibule for its Geddes Street building and Nancy Penna who may be renovating apartments on Thomas Street in the near future.
The good news gets even better! The Village was also awarded a $15,000 grant for streetscape improvements. Word has it that Village officials plan to use that money to refurbish the fountain in the center of the Public Square that was built in 1914 as well as add new benches. In addition, they are open to ideas from community residents on how to spend the remaining grant money.
Projects such as these not only go a long way in giving Holley a much-needed facelift, but it also encourages other building and business owners to invest in her too! By the time all of these projects are complete, Holley will be transformed into a beautiful, vibrant community to match the beauty and vibrancy she’s had within her all along. For that… Visions of Holley’s latest luminaire is not one person, but rather the entire community of Holley… without you there wouldn’t be any Visions of Holley!