“The real estate is cheaper in Wayne County, than Monroe County or Onondaga County. It’s a good place to grow your business,” said Olschewske, who also lives in the village.
He bought one of the largest buildings in the center of town for $1 million in 2018. In the years since, Olschewske bought several other buildings and a plot of land.
“If I took that same million dollars and went to either Syracuse or Canandaigua or Rochester and had done the same thing, I would not have got the same bang for my dollar,” Olschewske said.
The buildings house his quickly expanding home improvement business, Marshall Exteriors, which serves the entire Finger Lakes region and much of Western New York, Central New York and the Southern Tier. He said he chose to buy in the village because it’s easy for his employees and contractors to get around the state.
Benjamin described the downtown plan as a “compact, walkable, well defined and concentrated area that the village aims to make the heartbeat of a lively world class village.” He said the plan would fill vacant and underdeveloped properties with mixed-use buildings.
It’s stories like Olschewske’s that village and state leaders are hoping to replicate. Early this month, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin announced that $10 million from New York state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) was awarded to the town.
The plan also includes updating the village’s 70-year-old recreation center, offering easier access to the nearby Erie Canal and creating housing and infrastructure for senior citizens. The document states that they need more options to allow these residents to age in place.
Village Mayor Jonathan Taylor said the plans have been gestating since 2017. Back then, seeking to capitalize on the millions of dollars in development in the area, they took only a few weeks before applying.
“We spent a lot of nights in the office at 11 o’clock or midnight, putting together that application that year and discussing a number of things,” Taylor said. “And quite honestly, in 2017, it was kind of a wish list.” He said while their goals and efforts were sincere, the application “really lacked the substance” necessary to win the DRI funds.
After missing out on the first round, Taylor said the town took a more thoughtful and methodical approach, eventually creating a 60-page document outlining their plans. Taylor said they held focus groups and public meetings, and engaged students about what they’d like to see developed. “What the governor is looking for is to leverage that $10 million into a $40 million or $50 million investment in a community or any of the communities,” said Taylor.
Taylor plans to set up an advisory board to help the town through the process, which he expects to take several years. He said the earliest that projects would begin is in late 2023. New York state Sen. Pam Helming represents the 54th District, which includes Newark. She said these funds make selling the town to potential investors a lot easier.
“It’s important that we recognize, especially in our smaller communities, that when the state puts this level of investment into a community, developers, private investors they stand up, they take notice and they become more confident and committed to investing their private dollars into our downtowns and other parts of our community,” Helming said.