This morning I embarked on my second walk about the business improvement district (BID) and tackled Seneca Street (and businesses with clearest visibility from Seneca Street). Seneca Street makes up for approximately 16% of the total BID, and I was quite interested in how the businesses are laid out. Seneca Street seems to be parceled into little clusters of businesses with residential and, unfortunately, empty buildings between the businesses.
At the northern boundary of the BID on Seneca, directly before the bridge leading to North Hornell, I started my walk south towards the city center. On my right, a Hornell staple restaurant the Italian Villa leads the way as the boundary building. On my left, the Park Automotive, Lamac’s Automax, and Fred Roberts Auto Store all lead the way as a boundary building as well.
Heading down the road on my left the Maple City Market plaza is home to Step It Up Fitness for Women, Virdee Medical Group, and is an outpost for Covered Wagon Tours. Across from the plaza on my right is Stewarts Auto. Travelling down the road further, a new addition, First Heritage Bank, is now up and operational on my left. On the right, the Hornell Senior High School.
Directly across from the High School there are a cluster of businesses–Red Apple/Kwik Fill, Oil Express, Logo Print Company, and Yum Froyo. Just up the street, on my righthand side, another frozen dairy retailer, The Scoop, sits on the corner near the school. Across the street is Sal’s Trophies. Rounding out the area near the school is Giovanni’s Pizzeria & Restaurant on my left, and Don Saam’s Insurance just a bit up on my right. Continuing up the road on the same side is the New York State Armory housing the National Guard, and across from that is Planned Parenthood.
Then we get into a bit of residential and empty buildings. But, just up ahead on my left is Brandy’s Cup of Joe (technically on Maple Street, but just as visible from Seneca Street) and across from them is a couple of our fraternal organizations–The American Legion & The Moose Club. Directly across the street with one of the biggest visibilities on the entire road is Steuben Trust Company.
The 7 Eleven, just south of Steuben Trust on the same side, is a sort of a transitional point where the commercial buildings begin to get clustered in a tighter formation (starting to resemble a city downtown). Staying on the left side of the street and continuing to head South towards the city center, Decorator’s Choice leads the way towards Main Street, followed by Garcia’s Barbershop, Hornell Family Dental, Billy Schu’s Food Bar, Shults & Shults, and ending at the City Hall.
On the opposite side of the street from 7 Eleven, The ARC of Steuben leads the way towards Main Street, followed by Stearn’s Poultry, Sandy’s Hair Zoo, Over the Bridge Pet Supplies, Arbor Housing Development, Mengel Metzger Barr & Co LLP, Labella Associates, and the House of Mr. Lou.
On a positive note, where there are businesses on this street, there is much life and traffic. Even at 8am, there was a lot going on. Almost all of the businesses were open, or close to opening, and there is a plethora of different types of services on this street alone. There are four places to get meals (three that offer libations), two places to grab an ice cream cone, a coffee shop, two banks & an insurance company, five places to get you car worked on (or parts for your car–or just a new one), two gas stations, two barbers & a hair salon, a law office, a tax office, a financial planning office, a medical practice & dental practice, a family service organization, two housing organizations, an educational center, a home improvement business, a travel organization, a pet store, and even a trophy place! That’s a lot going on, in my humble opinion, and it seems as though every need is met in some fashion.
On the negative side, there are a lot of vacant buildings on Seneca Street–all are still within the BID and required to pay the commercial levy. Getting ground level, and experiencing the empty buildings up close is disheartening. The potential for these buildings is astounding, and the potential for Hornell to grow is as good as ever. However, the biggest problems we face are the empty storefronts, deteriorating facades, and a resistance to change.
Yesterday when I started my walking tour, my intention was to show you how big the business improvement district is and how diverse the businesses are. Today, my intentions have evolved to showcase the potential for growth within the district itself.
Join me tomorrow as I walk the major plazas in the BID! Each walk has offered me new perspective on the BID, and I’m interested to see how the plazas fit into our walking tour and what knowledge I’ll gain from the walk.