ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The City of Albany’s economic development organization, Capitalize Albany is launching two grant programs. Their goal is bring new stores and events downtown.

Under one of the new grants, anyone opening a new downtown storefront has the potential to get $30,000 to $100,000 for interiors or exteriors.

One example of available retail space is along Steuben Street off Pearl in the old Jillian’s building where upstairs is under renovation for a new entertainment venue and restaurant.

Sarah Reginelli is president of Capitalize Albany. She says studies show retail is critical for a vibrant city.

“There were no resources to be able to help businesses start up and fit up challenging locations,” said Reginelli.

The grants weren’t around when AMA opened, but this restaurant is an example of what they’re hoping to show can be done downtown.

AMA reconstructed an existing building, and is now hoping to possibly utilize the second part of the grant program, which is up to $5,000 for events to drive buzz and foot traffic. Jessica Evans of AMA Cocina wants to start a small Cinco de Mayo celebration this year.

“But then to continue to grow that and real make it a family friendly kind of outdoors event where people can come and eat and hear live music and bring their kids,”  Evans said.

Then in early summer, she plans a fine dining fundraising event along Sheridan, and getting other area businesses involved.

“People want to be able to walk around and do their shopping get something to eat be entertained and these grants are really helping to drive that,” she continued.

Seth Meltzer of Maddalone and Associates is converting two buildings across from the Times Union Center into apartments which will ready for late summer. The lower floors are available retail space– where prospective business owners could apply for grants to reimburse costs.

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