Penn Yan storefronts mostly full

John Christensen
Main Street, Penn Yan

The Director of Community Development at the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, Alex Taylor, submitted his report on the downtown district of Penn Yan. In it, he details a remarkable increase in Main Street businesses during the national recession.

• In 2008, of the 50 store fronts on Main Street, 38 were occupied (76 percent).

• In 2013, of the 50 store fronts on Main Street, 48 are now occupied (96 percent); up 20 percent.

• In 2008, 24 downtown stores sold merchandise (33 percent).

• In 2013, that number is 36 (50 percent).

• In 2008, 24 stores and eateries combined had evening and/or weekend hours (33 percent).

• In 2013, there are 38 (53 percent). Retail stores alone have more than doubled from 13 to 28.

Total occupancy of Penn Yan's entire downtown district is now at 90 percent. FLEDC CEO Steve Griffin says, "With 72 store fronts north of the Main Street Bridge alone, Penn Yan has a massive downtown corridor for a village of its size. Our high occupancy percentage is very impressive."

A recent survey of county residents on what they would like to see in downtown Penn Yan generated over 600 responses, and FLEDC has been making use of that information in its work with the businesses there. Taylor observed, "People often said that they do not go downtown to do their shopping because of the restrictive hours and opportunities. That is changing, and changing quite drastically."

Griffin credits a number of factors in the revitalization of downtown Penn Yan, including the village's façade improvement program and now the Water Street redevelopment. "There's a lot to be excited about," says Griffin. "Activity breeds activity. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Getting the right density and diversity and the levels of businesses and residences is bringing a vibrancy to downtown we haven't seen in quite a while." He also credits it becoming a center of activity not just for shopping and living, but also for recreation and the arts with the Arts Center of Yates County relocating to Main Street, and the art and artisan works for sale at Milly's Pantry, Eaton's Jewelers, and Keuka Creations.

The success of Penn Yan and FLEDC's role in that success has led to Griffin being invited to speak on the Birkett's Landing apartment redevelopment project at the Jan. 23 meeting of the New York State Economic Development Councils in Albany.

Other business on the FLEDC board's agenda last week included:

Website: The FLEDC website has been launched at www.fingerlakesedc. com

Leases: Almost 8,500 square feet of the Seneca Building, formerly occupied Badger Electronics, has been leased to Lakeview Organic Grains for seed storage at $4 per foot. This is a one-year lease that fills the building.

Angelo Beverage has leased a small office in the FLEDC headquarters.

Loan: Approved a loan to Sean Dallas, a Penn Yan Central School District teacher, of $12,000 to establish a cross-training gym that will operate evenings and weekends in Penn Yan.