Salamanca makes bid for HGTV Hometown Makeover Contest

The Seneca Theater in downtown Salamanca, N.Y., is one of the sites city leaders plan to renovate if they are chosen for the HGTV Hometown Makeover Contest.

SALAMANCA, N.Y. — Not too long ago, the Salamanca City was known for its bustling main street, downtown shops, and vibrant community life.

Now with a potential HGTV Hometown Makeover contest, Salamanca is making plans to renovate the historic Main Street complex with the hope that it will anchor it again as the retail center of downtown.

“Among Allegany State Park, Seneca Allegany Casino, and the Holiday Valley Ski Resort, millions of visitors come to experience Salamanca,” said Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce Director John Sheehan. “Each year the city plays host to the Marvin “Joe” Curry Pow Wow, filled with native music, foods, crafts, and outstanding dancing. We have a lot to offer international tourism. We just need that final helpful push to spark to the city’s renewal.”

Salamanca filed to win the contest to renovate historical staples such as the Ray Evans Theater and Queen Anne Towers. Newly launched, the HGTV contest is available to any towns across the nation with a population of less than 40,000 and infrastructure renewal needs. Applicants can request funding for “brick and mortar” renovation projects in a community or a specific aspect of their city’s architecture heirloom.

“Since this program is not state or federal funding, there are not as many strings attached,” said Salamanca City School District’s coordinator, Aaron Straus, who also wrote the application for the successful SEMI program for the district’s new STEAM wing.

A collaborative partnership team of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Salamanca City School District, Chamber of Commerce and city officials crafted the video and submitted the HGTV application.

“It’s nice to finally be able to show the public the beautiful, natural environments that many people overlook, said Maurice John Jr.,Seneca Media and Communications’ senior content producer. “Salamanca, New York has a lot to offer and I hope this video will provide an opportunity to show the rest of the world where we come from.”

“Our Main Street area has had paving and sidewalk upgrades that make it more aesthetically pleasing, walkable, and drivable,” said Sandi Brundage, city grant officer. “The final piece of the puzzle is regaining momentum to bring Salamanca back to its former self, and renew positive energy for commerce in the downtown area.”

A number of recent projects were pitched and vetted by the community, and the application was written around the one already in progress “We have striven to restore pride in our city,” said Salamanca Mayor “Smitty” Michael Smith. “I feel that this project is one of our crowning glories of that promise.”

The project is a comprehensive restoration of the Main Street, which Salamanca may know as the site of historical features like The Dowd house at 44 S. Main St. and The Queen Anne Towers at 50 S. Main St. Community leaders want to revitalize the area for commercial use and turn-top its architectural aspects into cultural hubs.

“The positive response to the video was a clear indicator that the people of Salamanca want and deserve more from their city,” said Patrick Redeye, Seneca Nation media specialist. “Everyone involved helped make this a success, win or lose I hope we can keep the momentum and teamwork towards this common goal moving forward.”

According to a press release from city leaders, many of the buildings are in a state of neglect, and some of the buildings are not up to code. Many of the interiors will need to be refurbished, and the exteriors will be redone.

“Salamanca deserves a new Main Street,” said School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mark Beehler.

The filing period for the contest has ended. Officials expect the award to be announced by late April or early May.